How programmatic job adverts can attract quality candidates

LAURA CHAMBERS • 07 Nov 2022

Appcast’s Vice President of Sales, Robin Stander, joined Giles Heckstall-Smith to discuss programmatic job adverts and how they can help in the current talent market. Appcast give their customers further reach for their job adverts, meaning they can reach quality candidates where they are, rather than hoping they come to you!

On average, organisations tend to spend 10x more on advertising
than their applicant tracking system. That’s a really big investment! Traditionally we see companies using duration-based job adverts. This is where a job ad sits on a job board for 28-30 days, and it’s more akin to a “post and pray,” methodology. You post the ad and hope that the candidates you want will see it. But this is very different from the sort of digital marketing we expect today.

This is where programmatic job adverts come in.

What is the difference between duration-based advertising and performance-based advertising?

In the recruitment space, duration-based advertising involves you reaching out to an account manager at a job board, telling them what jobs you’re looking to hire, and signing up on a 6-12 month contract. What you get for this is that a job ad would sit for 28-30 days, and you would hope that the right candidates would find you. As time goes on, your job ad would move down the ranks, so it would be more difficult to see, replaced with newer and fresher job postings.


Programmatic – or performance-based advertising – is slowly replacing duration-based advertising. 35% of US firms over 1000 employees are currently using it for their hiring. LinkedIn are implementing it. It removes the need for discussions and contracts with account managers, and you don’t need to put all of your eggs in one or two job board baskets. You split your spend across job boards that are performing well, so you’re extending your reach and not wasting your money.

How does programmatic advertising work?

There are 60% more vacancies in the economy than there were pre-pandemic, due to the melting pot of Brexit and COVID. That means limiting yourself to the same job boards as always won’t fill your vacancies like they once did.

Programmatic advertising works best for high-volume hiring companies: 30+ vacancies a month. After a conversation with our clients and agreeing the budget, we pull an XML feed of jobs from Jobtrain – or your applicant tracking system – so all of your jobs are in our system. Every time you add a job, change a job, it’s automatically updated on our end, so it removes that manual labour from our clients day-to-day.

Appcast Pic

Then we send that job to market. It will go to every aggregator, every job board, that’s relevant to the type of role you’re advertising for, which means you’re simply expanding your reach and success-rate! Bid-rates might change from job-to-job. For example, a software engineer might cost £20 to get seen, but a bartender will just cost £11.

We also track the performance of that job advert on an ongoing basis.  Some job boards don’t have the relevant audience for a job to work, so we make sure your ad is only going where it’s best-suited.

Once a candidate clicks on your advert and start applying, they’re immediately taken to your careers site, like usual. Our clients are only invoiced once an application is completed. You’re only paying for the applications you receive, and it’s worth mentioning that nobody else is doing that!

What success have you seen with programmatic advertising?

Here’s some statistics:

  • On a global scale, 33% of enterprise organisations are using programmatic job advertising.
  • Out of those companies, 90% have continued or increased their investment in programmatic job advertising year-on-year.
  • Companies using programmatic advertising are twice as likely to reduce time-to-hire.
  • Companies using programmatic advertising are three times more likely to see an increase in quality hire.

Job adverts are still important

We are always undertaking research to learn what makes the best job adverts, and provide content to our clients to help them make the most of their advertising. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

Reducing time to apply from 15 minutes to 5 minutes will see a jump of over 345% more applications. Keeping below 25 questions can result in 87% more applications. That means programmatic advertising is only half the battle. Creating stand-out adverts with easy-to-use applications is still key!

the-jopwell-collection-4WTb4tR45JQ-unsplash (1)There are lots of nuances to consider. Verification e-mails can be a barrier if you ask a candidate to register. From a Jobtrain perspective, we don’t send verification e-mails to candidates, and we do not have a requirement for candidates to register prior to submitting an application.

Make your job titles shorter. Shortening from 7 words to 3, yields 48% more candidates. Think like a job seeker and use titles people actually search for, and avoid symbols and special characters.

As for job descriptions – between 300 and 800 words is the sweet spot. If your job advert is less than 100 words, it looks like you don’t care. If it’s over 1000 words, your apply rate will be cut in half!

Candidates are more likely to apply for jobs Monday to Thursday, unless it’s a blue collar role. Those candidates will typically apply on a Saturday! Try to fish when no one else is fishing. Focusing your job advertising efforts on the back end of the month can yield 2x throughput.

And finally - adding two benefits to the job advert can increase applications by 55%!

What would you say to someone who’s uncertain about programmatic advertising?

It’s about dipping your toe in the water.

People have been doing the traditional forms of advertising for 20 years, since job boards kicked off, so changing the methodology is scary, but programmatic is the solution to that. Our clients don’t look back.

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