Programmatic advertising: what’s in it for recruiters?


19 Jul 2017

Programmatic, Digital, Advertising, Data & Insight

Programmatic advertising: what’s in it for recruiters?

Programmatic advertising automatically places advertisements in electronic media based on data collected about the audience to achieve optimal results. Campaigns using it are replacing human-based methods with automated buying, placing and optimisation of media inventory.  

Programmatic advertising is transforming recruitment marketing by effectively targeting audiences across numerous networks both contextually and behaviourally, focussing on the ‘who’ as opposed to the ‘what’.  

One example might be if you were recruiting for social care professionals you would not look to target specific media publishers but target the audience based on what they were reading, or their previous browsing history, regardless of the publisher. Effectively what programmatic advertising does which was not possible to do before is place advertising in the right place, at the right time and for a much more cost-effective price.

It was 22 years ago when the first banner ad appeared on, the previous URL of This effectively marked the new beginning for not just advertising but also for all marketing. Let’s be honest though, the banner ad was not a million miles from our traditional practices in print at the time, but what has changed is the technology.

The speed of advancement in technology of how adverts are shown to online users in recent years has been meteoric and is still going strong. Whereas previously you would go to a website and everyone would see the same adverts, recent advancements mean software can personalise advertising based on data collected about you. This provides a much more relevant experience and increases the chances of success.

Soon it is believed that every display unit will be an advertising opportunity, so not just your mobile, tablet or PC but your oven timer at home or your car dashboard.  These interactive displays will be able to track consumer response too. Imagine the power of that in recruitment!

There has been an obvious massive increase in the number of online media publishers, and with it the number of display advertising opportunities, which are now in the millions. From a media planner’s point of view, they would traditionally be liaising with 15 -30 media publishers and analysing 20 – 30 ad buys a week. Automated buyers of online advertising analyse millions in a second.

For consumer marketing, embracing programmatic is essential, and by the end of 2016 70% of all online consumer advertising will be purchased programmatically. And it won’t stop there, with radio, out of home and TV following suit. Analysts believe that programmatic advertising will soon be part of our everyday lives, whether it’s for selling cars or buying a pair of shoes.

So what does this mean for recruitment? The real power of programmatic advertising for recruiters is understanding the power of the first party data  - their own data about the audience - they already have.  Using data gained from candidates they have already recruited will enable them to overlay this information in targeting similar candidates programmatically, or what Facebook calls ‘Lookalike’ audiences. However the biggest challenge for recruiters will be to understand what data to capture and how to use it. In order to overcome this challenge, recruiters need to understand and track their candidates’ journey to apply and hire. Once this is captured it can be replicated in future advertising activity.

In the last four months Penna has launched its own programmatic trading desk, Penna Programmatic. We found that many of our competitors used the same suppliers for programmatic advertising, but they lacked quality, provided no real point of difference and were not built for purpose. We decided to invest time and resources into making our own solution with recruitment specifically in mind. Comparing our performance to a regular programmatic supplier, the results have been compelling:    

Penna Programmatic is entirely transparent and brand safety is paramount. Reporting on spend, viewability, fraud and, crucially, the types of sites your adverts appear on, is included in the planning, implementation and reporting of campaigns. Our display offering allows for the testing and optimisation of different content which can be delivered dynamically to different audience types at different stages of the user journey.

Jim Bloor
Head of Digital Strategy and Data