As the online recruitment competition heats up, it’s time the industry got to grips with intent targeting

Between A Level results day and graduation season, the recruitment sector has been in overdrive in recent weeks, as recruiters compete to snap up the best and brightest candidates for their clients. And as school and university leavers turn to the job-seeking tool they know best – the internet – the shift toward digitally-powered recruitment has never felt more acute.

Couple this with the news that the youngest generation already in work – millennials – are the most likely demographic to ‘’job-hop’’, with many trying multiple jobs before settling on a career, and it’s clearly never been more beneficial for recruiters to ensure they’re being seen by the right candidates at the right time online.

But in such a convoluted digital landscape, and with the likes of Google’s new job tool to contend with, recruiters are finding it increasingly difficult to hit the mark with today’s job seekers.

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Enter programmatic. Recruiters are always being told to think more like marketers, and for almost the last decade, programmatic advertising has made waves across the advertising space. This has already been reflected in the job advertising market, with global programmatic ad spend having increased three-fold since 2013.

But so far recruiters have been reluctant to embrace this useful tool – thanks, in part, to a lack of knowledge around what programmatic is, does, and costs. So what is programmatic, and more importantly, how can it revolutionise the way recruiters connect with job seekers?

In short, programmatic is an automated version of traditional advertising, where a machine buys online advertising according to a set of criteria, defined by the marketer (or in this case, the recruiter) themselves. By automating the process, recruiters have more time to focus on what really matters – making personal connections with job-seekers – so it’s easy to see why this technology should be central to any recruiter’s toolbox.

It’s also true, however, that many systems currently in play give advertisers very little control, and rely on historical cookie data – which is of little use to recruiters, as clearly the job seeker may have already found their new position by the time the recruiter gets in contact.

But if the GDPR taught advertisers anything, it’s that consumers only want to engage with content that is contextually relevant to them – and as a result, we’re seeing some big changes across the programmatic space, that will work in the recruitment sector’s favour. The advent of cookie-less technologies, for example, has opened the door to intent targeting, which is where we target people based on intent, rather than just their age, gender or location. This means we might serve an ad about Nike trainers to someone browsing for premium quality sports shoes, for example, rather than simply aiming for a demographic that we think this product might appeal to.

Search, as a long-time identifier of user intent, is at the forefront of this change. Recruiters already rely heavily on search to get results – but thanks to this shift toward intent targeting, we can now use it to identify, and approach willing job candidates in real time, rather than 30 days later, as is the case with cookie-based approaches.

And why stop there?

Programmatic need not be relied on solely to attract candidates actively looking for employment. It can also help identify with those who may be interested in a role further down the line.

For example, if you’re looking to hire a developer, why not engage with people searching for courses in software? And what about people searching for properties, or looking for rented accommodation in a new area? There’s now a whole host of ways that programmatic can drive engagement, and by working with the right partners, recruiters will be in a position to better identify relevant associated triggers and unlock this technology’s full potential.

This also extends to ensuring advertising appears only on brand safe websites that offer relevant contextual environments for user engagement. This way, recruiters will not only be able to find the best candidates, but they’ll also position themselves as trusted and reliable sources, which will ultimately help drive applications.

Between finding the right candidates, and managing client relationships, recruitment is no walk in the park. But with programmatic on side, recruiters can act instantaneously, with precision, in a cost-effective way, leaving them to invest more time in building relationships with candidates and future employers. As such, its high-time the recruitment sector took a lead out of the advertising handbook, and learnt how to reap the rewards of this technology – before they get left behind.

Carl White, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Nano Interactive

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