In a recent episode of Talent Talks, Michael O’Dell (President,, Jenn Terry (VP of Strategic Initiatives, Joveo), and Dan Sapir (VP, Business Development, Joveo) discussed how recruitment marketing is finally catching up with consumer marketing – with the adoption and growth of programmatic recruitment advertising. 

They spoke about how pay-for-performance and programmatic job advertising approaches addressed several issues with “post and pray” models, by delivering more relevant applicants, higher predictability, and more flexibility.   

Watch the video or check out some of the highlights in the transcript below!

From Sunday Classifieds to Pay-for-Performance

Jenn: I met my friend, Michael O’ Dell on our publisher advisory board. Michael, you want to tell the listeners a little about yourself and

Michael: Sure. I have been in the job space now for about 16 and a half years. I spent my first 14 years at CareerBuilder. In April 2018, I came over to, at that point known as I lead our US efforts – the US is one of the 79 countries in which we are a “publisher,” as Jenn said, and the US is the biggest market in our portfolio of countries.

Jenn: In today’s conversation, I really want to dig into some of the things that I’ve learned being on the side of TA professionals.

There’s been a lot of pain in the recruitment advertising industry over the last few years. You’re starting to see duration-based posts wane a little bit, other things get a little bigger… I’m interested in your perspective on what’s changed for job sites and aggregators. 

Michael: When I started in this space, we were doing evangelical sales to get people to move from the Sunday classifieds to online, and even that went from using penny upgrades in 2000–2001 to buying big contracts with job boards.

Today, it’s moved even more. The TA technology space sits two or three years behind the consumer space. So in my job, I look at what the consumer space is doing now, and get ready for it because it’s going to be here in two or three years.

And that big trend right now is pay for performance – cost per click / programmatic advertising – where we’re letting data make the decisions. There’s automation on where jobs are posted, how long they’re posted for, and how much you want to pay for it. 

Just the idea of getting what you pay for is great, compared to the old post-and-pray – like we used to call it – where you put up the job and hope something happens. There’s now a lot of technology, and a lot of big data and automation in that. We can now say, “Here’s the job, where should it go, and how much should I expect to get out of it?” So it’s progressed quite a bit in the past two or three years . . .

But what’s wrong with duration-based postings, pay per post, and PPC? Nothing – as long as all results are measured and improved.

Jenn: So Dan, as we have listeners here that probably are in different stages of that continuum, with some probably still buying really big post-and-pray contracts, what insight do you have on why programmatic? Why not the duration-based or commodity-style job boards?

Dan: I remember when I first got into this space, I started in sales, and the recruiter at the first company I was at, calls me up and says, “Well, everyone else does pay per post, and we’re doing pay for performance.” And it was a time when that was widely adopted in consumer AdTech. So I thought it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world!

And I started trying to sell to TA professionals and found a very different story. A lot of the people we were talking to were not quite ready for that move at that time. So when we think about where everything is today, in the US, you see a lot of people using pay for performance. But they’re not really digging super deep into the results and how different job types and job groups are seeing different results.

And then with certain European countries and other parts of the world, you still see markets where 70% – 90% of the spend is with pay-per-post. Certain pay-per-post sites work amazingly well. So it’s not necessary that it has to be pay-for-performance. And what’s great about programmatic is it level-sets that – and makes sure we’re measuring everything.

In the US, where everyone has the benchmarks and they know what their cost per application is, and sometimes they’re even tracking the hire all the way downstream, programmatic can come in and say, “We’re plugging into hundreds to thousands of different sources, and on this site, you might find that job seeker for 50 bucks per apply, but I can find that same job seeker over here in a much more cost-effective manner.” So all of a sudden, you’re able to do more with the spend that you have. You can get to a place where you’re bringing more applicants in the funnel quicker, and seeing hires quicker.

Tracking candidates end-to-end across the recruitment marketing funnel

Jenn: As an employer, when I made this transition, I had one goal in mind – to reduce costs. We were in a place where there weren’t enough applicants for all the jobs, the competition to get eyes of those applicants was high, and by diversifying and potentially talking to hundreds of outlets, I could get more eyes on that prize.

So Michael, besides the broad distribution and reduced cost, what other benefits would you highlight to the general TA leader on programmatic?

Michael: What we’ve seen from a change in the PPC space was – it started with, “Can you give us clicks, even get clicks in the door?” And then that went to, “Can you get us clicks at a decent price?,” and then it was, “Can the clicks that you get for us turn into decent applications at a decent price?” And now it’s further down-funnel – “Can you actually deliver hires to me, and at how much and what quality?”

Now that we’re here, you can track it from end to end, very much like consumer marketing. You have to work with your ATS and your TA stack partners to do it, but we can tell you exactly where those jobs came into the process. How many of those job seekers fell off in your application process? How quickly did your recruiters get to them and engage that job seeker? How long did it take, how much did it cost, and where did that job seeker come from? So there’s a lot of tracking and a lot of data that will really help people make decisions.

And there’s a lot of options. One of the things that we, here at, love is the fact that we have partners like Joveo. Having a middleware partner that helps us take this big chunk of jobs and bring it into a smaller chunk of jobs to say, “We want to advertise these jobs, to these people, at this price.” It’s very helpful. And the tools like what Joveo offers helps us really knock down that friction between us (and other job boards too) and our customers.

Jenn: Yeah, I completely agree. When I was sitting in that employer chair, all those contracts that I had negotiated with the post-and-pray players – I had way too many jobs in my inventory! I was locked into a price. I needed to be able to predict things better. Predictability was a huge deal.

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Programmatic can also help limit your applications when necessary

Jenn: So I mentioned I was going to throw a weird curveball at you. We now have several employers out there that have had to cut their TA staff. They don’t have as many jobs open, but there are more job seekers. So I look at programmatic as a way to actually stop candidates from pooling in your ATS. It gets the right candidates for the right price, and then stops if you have enough. Do you see that as a good use of programmatic?

Michael: I personally do. I remember there was an example when I first learned about programmatic that somebody told me. If you’re buying a 30-day job posting, that’s like going into a Hilton hotel and saying, “Hey, I need to spend three nights here,” and the hotel saying, “That’s cool. It’ll be $5,000 for 30 nights.” But you only need to stay at the Hilton for three nights. So why are you paying for a whole month? That’s exactly what programmatic is about. You get your jobs in there, you get what you need, and then you pull it down so you’re not hamstrung with that inventory number.

We’re now getting into the fourth quarter, the time of the year when retail, logistics, warehouse, and stuff like that is going to get really big for the holiday season. The great thing about programmatic is you can spend all your money in and into Q3 and Q4 to get folks there for the holiday season, but never spend a dime in January, February, March, if you don’t meet people. It gives you the flexibility you need to make changes if something weird happens, like COVID!

Now more than ever, TA is all about doing more with less

Jenn: For a lot of our listeners, they’ve done exactly what you just said, Michael. COVID hit, requisitions got pulled back, staff got cut. And now all of a sudden, it’s holiday season, and things are starting to tick back up. They don’t have the same amount of people and their budgets may have been cut. What would you say to TA leaders if you were to give them just an elevator pitch on how programmatic can help them do more with less? Dan, I’ll start with you.

Dan: I think the crux of it is, it helps you reach the right candidates, wherever they might be. The problem when you’re using a single pay-for-performance site, or two or three, is that you have a few agreements in place, and if you really wanted to find every place and you wanted to cut agreements with everyone, all of a sudden, you’re dealing with a thousand different agreements, a thousand different IOs, a thousand different things you’re trying to optimize to.

And no one has time for that, especially when they’re short-staffed and they’re trying to hire more people. So programmatic even helps with the top of the funnel. And then once in the door, we can help decide where those jobs should go based on the ton of data coming into our system on site behavior and results. We have that data that says. “Let me shift as much budget that way as possible,” because they’re making really good matches. The data, like the click to apply rates, gives us a good leading indicator that is surfacing the right jobs to the right job seekers. They’re converting at a better rate than others. So it saves a lot of people a ton of time throughout the ecosystem.

Jenn: And that’s why something like Joveo, which learns as it goes and helps you determine the efficacy of individual sources, makes that even cleaner. So Michael, what would you say if you had some advice for TA leaders on doing more with less, or making it through this last part of the year?

Michael: I come from a world where it was very much a zero sum game. You had these two or three huge boards. And site A wants to kill site B. And the old 30-day post-and-pray world operated out of this sense of scarcity.

Today, the difference is, you have this whole other programmatic world, where we have a sense of abundance. We all understand that there’s this huge market for everyone, so we go out there and work on bettering customer experience. In the old days, you had to make one buying decision a year. Today with programmatic, the buyers have the opportunity to make 365 purchase decisions a day – and you don’t make it, you let your technology make it, which makes it even easier.

Do I do business with today? Yeah, they did great yesterday. I might have a bad day and you may say “I’m going to take two or three days off,” and that’s fine – the onus is on us to make sure that we’re delivering. So it’s a much better situation for the buyer. You guys have the upper hand in the industry, so we work harder to deliver for you.