I’ve taken some notice lately of the current trends in the job board marketplace lately. It seems that many of the boards are looking to transition from the old model of “post & pray” to more of an Ad Network-centric approach.
Update & Disclaimer: I’m not an Ad Network or job board employee, so I won’t try to define the industry, but I realized I neglected to define an Ad Network. So, here it is as Wikipedia defines it. Mea Culpa, I digress, and we move on.
What we’re seeing in the marketplace is a dramatic shift from what the bread an butter of the job board business model has been since the mid-90’s. It started with the ability to post your open positions, and have people fax a resume in (because, really who was using e-mail in a widespread format in 1995?), then progressed to overwhelmed in-boxes (which is/was/will be every recruiters nightmare), and then finally to the redirection to the career site. All of this still amounts to a theory of putting it out there and seeing what happens.
We then experienced the Sourcing Revolution, where it became commonplace for (good) recruiters to actively source candidates. we saw user groups, technical forums, LinkedIn and professional sites become the chum tank for the sharks. If you were out there, you could be found. This too, still applies today, but has gotten vastly more mature in the approach and technical style, thanks to blogs, and training seminars, like AIRS, using available techniques like Boolean searching.
Now, with the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, we’re starting to see more of the job boards move toward sponsored ads, and impressions that (allegedly) drive traffic back to your site, and ultimately drive people to your postings, assuming it will lead to more candidate flow for you. Having done an impression campaign in the past, I’m not yet convinced it will work the way it is intended. I mean, I see tons of trailers online and on TV for movies – I’m AWARE of them, but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to see it more. The hope here for job boards (we think) is that they will be able to capitalze on the market of people who are actively using the social media sites, and other popular avenues, and can cash in based on the recrutiing departments metrics tally that they are getting traffic from Ad Network related content. But isn’t that really the same as ye ol’ “post & pray”? Perhaps the only difference is that someone on the job board side is posting it, and you as the recruiter, are not.
But the folks who dream up the next big thing at the job board headquarters know what they are doing. They see that so many of these corporate and TPR clients are cutting, slashing and burning external costs at an alarming rate – both because of the economy, but because of better trained recruiters. That means less money year on year, in total contract value (CV). If the CV decreases, so does the revenue and ultimately the stock prices. NOT GOOD, if you are waiting on that bonus. Now, they can provide a “value-add” (and I challenge anyone to tell me that the job board sales rep did NOT use that term when they tried to see this to you – it’s their go-to hot button) service with the Ad Network. A colleague of mine was able to just cut 5k off of his most recent contract with one of the larger job boards. He declined the Ad Network package, and impressions, because his company has a strong social media presence, and strong brand. Had he taken it, he’d be paying 3-5k more than his old contract. So the brass at the job boards has struck some more gold to keep revenue at least where it is at, if not higher.
My question is will they stick with this, can they sell it widely, and will they be able to truly prove the worth of this, or will the Ad Network model go the way of the dodo bird and “post & pray”?
What are you seeing?