Programmatic Job Ads Strategy and Optimizing for Recruitment Goals

Justin GabrielBy Justin Gabriel
March 1st, 2022 • 4 Minutes

Many recruitment marketers have jumped on board a programmatic program. It’s clear that programmatic job advertising is more efficient and effective than the old fashioned posting method.

But how can you take your programmatic job ads strategy to the next level?

Let’s look at how you can enhance your programmatic job ads strategy

by walking you through the evolution of a company called ACME’s strategy. Sure, it’s a fictional company, but this story will illustrate how you can fully integrate programmatic job ads into your recruitment marketing strategy.


ACME is new to programmatic job advertising and wants to work with a vendor to add it to their strategy. They’ll look for a vendor who understands why they want to engage in programmatic advertising and how it will help their pain points. The vendor then starts to collect data and analyze what ACME is already doing right vs. where to improve. In this stage, they need to share their goals and ideal outcomes.

It’s crucial for companies exploring a programmatic job ads strategy for the first time to be clear with their hiring goals. Outline what worked in the past and which jobs are most difficult to fill, so the vendor you select can accurately assess how you may benefit from programmatic media.


The vendor sets up all the integration paths and initial programmatic strategy with ACME. They place a tracking pixel, ensure the tracking works properly, and set up campaigns to correspond with outlined goals and strategy. The vendor will use their internal data to help guide expectations and understand market conditions.

During this time, you and the vendor should establish expectations for working together. Ensure you know how frequently to expect reporting, what format it will take, and what they need from you to optimize your strategy throughout the process. For programmatic media to a successful recruitment advertising program, you need a strong relationship between the two teams.

Level 1: Launch

Campaigns launch and the programmatic vendor starts to collect data on advertising metrics. Their goal here is to set the campaigns on a course for performance improvement compared to pre-programmatic involvement.

After the first two weeks, ACME meets 85% of their application goals, and cost per application is down 25% compared to pre-launch benchmarks. This is possible by setting up general rule-based buying to better align with ACME’s needs and mitigate pain points uncovered in pre-onboarding.

ACME is pleased and continues with the same strategy for one to two more months.

While more and more companies are starting to adopt a programmatic approach to recruitment marketing, many get stuck in this first level. This means they’ve begun “doing programmatic” and have set up a few rules based media buying strategies. Overall, their cost per application has gone down, and they’ve seen pretty good results so far. But how do they take it to the next level, and how do they know if it’s really working?

Level 2: Optimize & Iterate

From two weeks out, ACME’s campaign starts to develop trends and patterns at the micro-level. They can take immediate action on underperforming jobs or start tailoring a long-term strategy to improve. 

ACME is pleased but still struggles in their job category hiring. They want to know what more they do to alleviate some of these pain points. 

After identifying and creating a strategy for underperformance, the vendor either implements changes in the campaign settings or alters the rules-based bidding decisions.

To improve these underperforming areas, ACME’s new campaign strategy starts to take off, and they see improvements over the next month. ACME is happy now that their overall jobs portfolio performs well and their pain points lessen due to improved micro-strategies.

Sometimes companies get to the first level and quit progressing in understanding programmatic capabilities. They don’t grasp how they can still improve at the micro-level, even if overall numbers look good. Programmatic aims to bring efficiencies and meet goals both at the macro and micro level.

Sometimes, even though a company is performing well at a high level, they are underperforming in specific job categories or have hard-to-fill markets that they haven’t quite figured out. 

The second level means examining performance at a micro-level. It allows companies to take the next step and understand specific programmatic strategies for boosting IT roles or hiring in challenging markets. 

This could mean bidding higher on specific jobs, using more vendors or distribution channels, or using job expansions in challenging markets. At this level, companies will know what’s underperforming in their jobs portfolio and focus on strategies to help resolve.

Level 3: Integrate & Long-Term Partnership

After six to nine months, ACME wants to develop a way to send their vendor quality and hire data more fluidly, rather than static updates with lag time. Their tech teams work together to create an attribution file that tracks candidates who have reached quality status and ultimately get hired. 

At this point, the vendor can implement this into a real-time top of funnel strategy and better hone in on quality traffic from the job boards. Through this, they’re able to cut time-to-fill by 20% and cost per hire by 25%.

ACME establishes a true partnership with their vendor. They can now start to project future goals and market impacts based on this continuous data feedback loop. They’ve created a fully automated programmatic strategy.

Level 3 is something very few companies currently achieve. These companies will see the same results as Level 2, plus integrate down funnel data back to the programmatic platform in as real-time as possible. 

This could mean sending quality signals, hiring data (with minimal lag time), and other down-funnel cost metrics to complement the programmatic strategy. This data feedback loop allows the programmatic platform to see what objectives the strategy is achieving and make pivots at the top funnel to drive more efficiency. 

By relaying quality and hiring data promptly, the programmatic platform can make more automated decisions at a job level regarding whether the job needs more candidate traffic, more cost efficiencies, or meets its goals.

Recommended Reading:

What level is your company’s programmatic job ads strategy? How do you plan to continue to optimize? Let us know!

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