(Photo: McNamara Alumni Center)

Welcome to conference season! As spring rolls into summer, more conferences and events are being held within the industry. Our performance marketing team recently attended the TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying held in Minneapolis. For those not familiar with TAtech, they are a “trade organization for the worldwide community of organizations that provide technology-based tools for recruiting.” Over the course of a year, TAtech hosts a handful of conferences that cover topics including recruitment advertising, emerging technologies in talent acquisition, and programmatic ad buying. This year’s programmatic conference was an action-packed day full of seminars and keynotes, held in the beautiful McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The hot topics for 2017 included Google for Jobsartificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and how publishers and buyers expect to interact with both trending topics in the future. To put it simply, it’s the conference to attend for programmatic ad buying in recruitment.

The State of #Programmatic #Advertising: Takeaways from #TAtechSummit Click To Tweet

As a team who positions ourselves to be thought leaders in the recruitment programmatic ad buying space, we decided to sponsor the Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying and invest our team’s time in collaborating with other leaders in the industry to understand best practices and the challenges this developing technology faces in 2017. With employers, agencies, and publishers getting together to share insights, there were plenty of takeaways from the conference that would fill many blog posts. However, I want to highlight Microsoft’s programmatic adoption, how Microsoft’s programmatic pilot relates to recruitment, and the state of programmatic in recruitment as discussed at the conference.

To kick off the conference, Director of Global Partnerships for Microsoft Kelly Davidson, delivered a keynote that touched on Microsoft’s venture into the programmatic space and the key challenges and successes that came with it. Historically, Microsoft’s ad sales team did a bulk of their ad sales as “reserved sales” across their online properties. This meant that they had a 1,000+ person sales team that brokered reserved buys for either a full day ad slot takeover or a custom ad slot buy. This ad sales model was quickly becoming unprofitable and had declining year-over-year revenue. In November 2015, Microsoft partnered with AppNexus to shift to a programmatic sales model in the Nordic countries as a test market. After conducting this six-month pilot, Microsoft saw programmatic revenue increase from approx. 17% of revenue share to 55%, which even exceeded their own expectations. They also learned that programmatic could offset declines in reserved sales ad buying and was more operationally effective, leading to a massive savings in people resources. When applied on a global scale, Microsoft’s ad sales team became profitable and saw a 26% increase in year-over-year programmatic revenue growth on just a 4% increase in volume.

Microsoft’s own findings are not unlike the same results we’ve seen in the recruitment space. When shifting to a programmatic model versus a traditional recruitment advertising model, we’re able to apply custom rules and bidding to hit better performance metrics than ever before. We can publish our client’s jobs across a wide network of sites and automatically adjust rules to hit our campaign objectives in a way that traditional advertising hasn’t be able to deliver. Just like with Microsoft, KRT recognizes the value in programmatic ad buying and how we’re able to leverage this technology to deliver a greater ROI for our clients compared to traditional advertising.

#Programmatic = greater ROI. Check out Microsoft's results. Click To Tweet

Despite the advancements in smarter ad buying, programmatic in the recruitment space still faces challenges. Both buyers and sellers must work together to embrace this new technology and process, and shifting to this model has presented difficulties for both parties. Here were a few common problems buyers and sellers face as solicited in a pre-conference questionnaire:

Buyers (Employers & Agencies)

  • Not enough publishers fully embrace programmatic.
  • There have been reporting challenges with determining “true” performance metrics.
  • Buyers want greater insight into what networks the publishers post our jobs on, especially if we go direct since this can cause of bidding against our own jobs.
  • Targeting and bidding advancements need to be built out.

Sellers (Job Boards & Aggregators)

  • Sellers want to know performance benchmarks and conversion metrics. These benchmarks help them optimize campaigns.
  • They face difficulty combining traditional and programmatic products. They have other products besides programmatic that can deliver results when combined in a product offering.
  • Buyers need to make data-driven decisions, rather than going with the traditional advertising status quo, and deciding with emotional bias toward certain publishers and pricing.

These are just a few of the challenges we’ll be working on together over the next year. With 46% of sellers expecting more than 50% growth in programmatic products and 20% of buyers reporting it will be their biggest corporate investment in 2017, the foundation to build upon these initial programmatic stages in recruitment has been laid. The overall theme of the conference was trust and transparency between the buyers and sellers, and sharing our data to get the best performance for our clients. With access to better data and the introduction of AI and machine learning in recruitment, we’ll be the engine to drive programmatic ad buying adoption and growth within the industry.

Would you like to learn more about TAtech and the state of programmatic advertising for recruitment in 2017? If yes, feel free to reach out to KRT or say hello to me on LinkedIn!