What is Programmatic Media? Why Does it Matter to You? (Part 2)

John Farelli
April 17 ․ 7 min read

In Part One of this discussion, we looked into the basic definition and characteristics of programmatic media. It’s important to remember that “programmatic media” is an umbrella term that covers a lot of different technologies that range in complexity and cost.

media advertising

That being said, there are essentially three major channels or components used in programmatic recruitment advertising:

  • Pay for Performance job advertising (Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Appcast)
  • Search Engine Marketing (Google AdWords)
  • Programmatic Digital Brand Ads (banner ads, etc.

In all three channels, every click or impression is dealt with as an individual media buy. Each channel works on an auction system that determines which ads are most relevant to the user and then allows an advertiser to place a bid to serve them a job advertisement. Once the winner of the auction is decided, that job advertisement is then served to the user in real time as the page loads.

Now, let’s delve into the different nuances of each channel.

Pay for Performance

In Pay for Performance job advertising, ads are selected based on the user’s search terms, ensuring that only the most relevant ads are shown to the user when they perform a search. This works in the publisher’s best interest, since the advertiser only pays the site when someone actually clicks on their ad. This way, the sites with the best search experience for their potential candidates perform the best.

In addition to seeing if the type of job is relevant, publishers also use location data from the job and from the candidate to determine a good fit, which is much more efficient than the traditional job board contract model. In the past, companies would pay large sums of money to just ensure that their job advertisements were posted on the Internet. With the advent of aggregators that pull in jobs from all different companies on the web for free, employers can now drive candidates to click on the jobs that are most relevant to them.

Since all of this is based on an auction system, it costs more to buy a click for jobs which reflect the biggest needs in a local area. For example, if there a lot of companies bidding on people searching for Nursing jobs, the clicks are going to be very expensive, especially if the number of searches is low.

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) works in a similar way. However, instead of determining whether a job advertisement is relevant to the candidate's search, we can target certain searches and serve a job ad shown prominently on a user’s results page, along with copy designed to drive them to the Careers Website. We can also choose the geos or markets in which to target individual users.

The prominent placement of an employer's brand in search ensures that it is kept top-of-mind and typically acts as a top-of-the-funnel influencer. There are also tools provided by Google AdWords (by far the channel’s leader in search advertising) which create automatic job ads based on a feed of jobs data, allowing employers to bid on searches that are much more specific and, therefore, less expensive. As in pay for performance job advertising, the same supply and demand forces are at work in the SEM space. Searches that are in high demand by advertisers will naturally cost more.

Programmatic Digital Brand Advertising

The last and broadest of these three channels is Programmatic Digital Brand Advertising. This umbrella covers the majority of digital advertising on the web and is primarily executed via a technology platform called a Demand Side Platform (DSP). Most DSPs allow recruitment advertisers to easily implement a large variety of digital strategies, including video, audio, and even Digital Billboards. Without getting too into the weeds, the focus of this type of programmatic job advertising is on getting your employer message and employer brand out to the right candidate and worrying less about where those job advertisements are being sold.

There are large data sets that exist that can help target individuals based on their interests or profession, and companies can also remarket to candidates who have already visited their career site. Using this data, we can monitor the web for these users and then serve job advertisements to them in hundreds of ways across thousands of sites.

We’re Here to Help!

The digital landscape is certainly complicated, with a multitude of different platforms channels and ways to reach your prospective candidates. That’s why at Symphony Talent, we’ve developed a programmatic technology platform tailored to the recruitment industry that allows you to flexibly and easily manage campaigns across all three channels.


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