Scared of Programmatic Advertising? Let’s Face Those Fears! (Part 1)

Your eyes glaze over. Your head starts spinning. Your brain hurts.

Are you stuck in a nightmare 400-level college class?

Nope, it’s worse:

You’ve just read the first few sentences of a blog post about using programmatic job advertising software to manage recruitment spend.

It’s fine; I’m used to it!

As soon as the word “programmatic” comes out of my mouth, people instantly recoil. Why?

Because the topic is unfamiliar. Seemingly complex. And even a little scary: “What do you mean, an algorithm is going to decide where my staffing firm’s recruitment budget is spent?!”.

When people are scared (especially in business), what do they do? They freeze. They turn off. They don’t want to try something new.

Even if it’s going to help their business. Even if it’s going to find more candidates in the most challenging recruitment climate in decades. Even if it’s a recruitment tactic that isn’t going away and would put their staffing agency a leg up on the competition.

So yes, when candidate recruitment is as challenging as it’s ever been, staffing agencies and recruiters feel more comfortable doing what they’ve always done because it’s comfortable.

And I get it; change is hard with anything. Not just in business but in all aspects of life. It’s human nature to gravitate to where we are comfortable.

It’s time to face your fears – and get comfortable with programmatic advertising.

Let’s jump in.

 Fear Number 1: “My Applications Are Going to Go Away.”

There are several options to design a campaign when starting programmatic job advertising. All of them revolve around your comfort level by jumping into this new tactic.

Comfort Level: Dipping Your Toe In
Let’s start with someone who doesn’t want to change any of their spending. You’re working with the two biggest job boards in the country – Indeed and ZipRecruiter. The first month of the campaign is going to keep your monthly spend the same (or very close to the same).

Why? Because you need benchmarks. You need to gather data. You need to learn what the cost per application is on Indeed and ZipRecruiter. You need to know the conversion rate for each job publisher.

If you’re spending $2,500 right now on the job boards, then keep the ad spend at $2,500 for your first month and learn what the data says. Based on that data, if one publisher is outperforming the other one, shift the money to the publisher that’s performing better.

Comfort Level: Wading at Waist Level
OK, let’s go to the next comfort level – trying a new job board source. Maybe it’s the Appcast Exchange. Maybe it’s JobAdX. Maybe it’s Talroo, Adzuna, Neuvoo or another job publisher you want to try.

Don’t want to jump all the way in? Take a portion of your $2,500 monthly budget and shift 20 percent to the new source while keeping the other 80 percent on job publishers you’re comfortable with (you can still use programmatic with all 100 percent!)

Then, see what the data says. Are your current job publishers performing the best? Is the new source outperforming old sources? Make adjustments because of that data. If the new source works better, shift more money over (maybe up to 40, 50, 60 percent). If the current sources work better, then shift back but continue to use the programmatic software to help you make better decisions.

Whichever strategy you choose, your applications won’t go away!

 “Fear Number 2. “Programmatic Is Too Complicated.”

This is a valid concern for a couple of reasons:

  • The software is intimidating. If you don’t have a background in managing online advertising campaigns, it’s difficult to know even where to start after logging into the software. That’s where the team at your agency of record (a company that manages job board spend) can navigate the software for you.
  • You may not know how to measure success. Again, a valid concern, but your agency of record is ready to help you determine what that success could be. Is it meeting a cost per application goal? Is it collecting a certain number of applications for each job? Is it to prevent a runaway job from spending a disproportionate part of your budget?


Developing a relationship with your agency of record can really help overcome the fear that programmatic software is too complicated. Not only will they handle the technical setup, but they will also manage and optimize your programmatic campaigns to drive the best results.

Moving forward, a committed agency of record continues to learn about your staffing agency and keep campaigns agile to meet your changing needs. Have a big job order come in? They’ll shift spend to that order. Market rates increase? They’ll up your CPA to stay competitive.

An agency of record you trust will greatly simplify implementation for you while helping you learn along the way. Together, you will analyze the data that shows how your goals are being met and make adjustments to improve.

Still afraid of programmatic advertising?

In an upcoming post, I’ll address two more reasons staffing and recruiting professionals shy away from programmatic.