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Programmatic Advertising in HR

Are you still posting job ads the regular way? Reviewing the list of job boards you use once a year? Contemplating about which ones you want to keep, maybe even test an unconventional looking newbie? Say no more. There is this thing called programmatic advertising – very popular in the online marketing world already – that is now making its entrance into the HR space. Being pointed out as one of the HR-tech trends for 2016, it’s about time we had a look at the interesting phenomenon that is programmatic advertising.

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Once Upon a Time

For years, posting job ads via a wide variety of channels was the norm; once the ads were placed, you just had to wait for the responses to come in and pay the job board host for every click the ads received. The main issue here was that these ads generated lots of clicks from people who aren’t necessarily the target audience recruiters aim for. This, and the fact that a big part of the process was in the hands of human beings, made the ‘old way’ of doing things relatively time consuming and very expensive.

That all changed in 2009 with the arrival of programmatic advertising in marketing. This new way of targeting an audience changed the digital marketing landscape. Nowadays, instead of ‘spraying and praying’, many a digital marketing strategy is based on targeting individuals that fit a certain profile. The consequences of this advertising technology are easy to spot. Who hasn’t been surfing the internet, looking for that next tropical holiday destination, only to find exotic vacation ads pop up on every single website you go to afterwards? The same thing goes for job opportunities, if you type something along the lines of ‘HR-tech jobs in London’ in a search engine, you’re bound to see all sorts of banners related to that particular search flicker on the edges of your screen.


So what exactly is programmatic advertising? In short It’s the automated placement of ads, with the help of Artificial Intelligence, with content that is based on information about the target group. You could say it is personalised and customised advertising: the right message, at the right moment, to the right person.

Every time someone connects to the internet, whether via a desktop or smartphone, they leave data behind. Remember the message that by now is standard for every website, mentioning accepting cookies in order ‘to improve the user experience’? The main reason is that cookies provide information about online behaviour. It’s with this data that smart software is able to send us targeted advertising.


Let’s think about this for a second. What does the programmatic advertising boom mean for the recruitment industry? What are the main advantages of using this technology?

For starters, it means you’ll be able to define exactly what candidate profile you’re looking for. Better yet, you’ll be able to aim your job ads directly at the people corresponding your description, saving both them and yourself a lot of time. No more researching what website is the best to post a particular role on, or inquiring for quotes from different job boards to find out which one has the best pricing. As you know time is money, so by saving yourself – and the company – time, you’re saving money. First advantage sorted.

In the manual era – you know, that period in which HR practitioners found themselves uploading countless job ads to various job boards – the strategy was simple: throw enough mud at the wall and some of it will stick. Meaning, with little to no visibility on the number of qualified candidates that would actually see the ad, you just had to hope that something, or someone in this case, would come out of it eventually. With programmatic advertising the recruiters are in control over the ad; they can set the target audience for the job advertisement for instance.

Besides being a time & money saver, there’s one last thing that’s worth mentioning about programmatic advertising in HR. It can also be a useful tool in engaging with relevant audiences. The whole ‘right time, right place, right message’ thing means it can deliver you precisely that; making your organisation perhaps the first company people think of when deciding they want a new professional challenge.

Although programmatic advertising in HR is still a relatively new concept, there seems to be a lot going on around this topic. We can see why: It makes the search for new talent cost-effective, easy, and less time-consuming. Win-win-win!

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