Recruitment Advertising Agencies – Finding a New Role

In my last few posts I have mused about the more outrageous recruitment related predictions.

A particularly fashionable one was, “recruitment advertising agencies have been cut out of the process”.

When Barkers went into administration in 2009, this statement seemed even more credible.

Recruitment advertising agencies (RAD agencies) had traditionally added value via channel planning, copy, creative and placement. These skills were essential to run a successful print campaign, but with the advent of the job board, recruitment advertising costs plummeted. Employers and agencies took control of the posting process, creativity was limited and ROI measured precisely.

In this environment it became harder to justify the costs of using an advertising agency to do the same things that most companies were doing for themselves.

Things have changed. Just as my last article dealt with how the job board is evolving into a far more sophisticated tool; recruitment advertising agencies have adapted and are turning the new environment to their advantage.

The most successful campaign on the Wiley Job Network in the last 12 months was run by a London based RAD agency on behalf of a major petro-chemical company. The role advertised would typically attract between 1 -10 applicants but, by the time our agency had worked their magic, the advert had attracted over a hundred.

On this basis, Recruitment Advertising Agencies are still more than capable of adding significant value to their client’s campaigns.

So what’s changed to create an environment where the agency can once again thrive?

I shall come back to a running theme in my blogs. At a basic level nothing has really changed since things have migrated online. Yes, the media is different, the ROI is more measurable and advertising is more sophisticated but, employers still want the best talent and they know that the search for this talent is going to involve targeting relevant communities and content in the most effective way possible.

The biggest issue agencies have had to overcome has been the transition period between print and online. To illustrate the difficulties with this transition, let’s turn the clock back 10 years and look at the issues facing recruitment advertising agencies.

• The online options were limited to a few generalist job board brands, and the rates offered were considerably more cost effective than their print counterparts.

• To employers, job boards offered huge cost savings and highly measurable results but, the scope for any form of creativity was limited; advertising was quickly becoming ess of an art form and more of a science.

• Banners/ restrictive job templates were the only options available online and the ability to add value to this process was limited.

• Volume was the primary measures of success for a recruitment agency or employer at the time and an advert could be purchased online for a tenth of the price of one in print.

Gone were the days when you had to wait a month for a print deadline, pay thousands of pounds for advertising space and pray for a good result. In the old days, it made sense to make sure a good advertising agency worked on your recruitment advert; it was just too much of a financial risk to mess it up!

In this environment it’s easy to see why agencies were suffering.

Something had to give and unfortunately there were a few casualties; Barkers being the highest profile.

That transitional period is now over and nearly all content is now available online. What’s more, as content providers traditional revenue streams have declined, more and more innovative advertising and targeting technologies have been developed in the competition for budget.

The sheer amount of media online is now huge and the range of targeting methods available is myriad.

Simply choosing the right media has become a discipline worthy of a PhD qualification. In the UK sprang into existence in 2000 as a method for RAD agencies to find and assess different forms of recruitment media. Over the years’s database has grown, and now contains 4000 different platforms, each one structured differently, with its own targeting methods and rate structures.

In addition to this, rich media, data collection and enhanced analytical capabilities, have meant that running the most effective recruitment campaigns, in terms of cost and results, can be incredibly complex.

Let’s take the example of a Pharmaceutical company looking for a Medical Advisor, with specific experience in oncology…..

In the early 1990’s it was a matter of identifying the most relevant oncology journals with the best circulations, in the right locations and creating some copy for an advertising campaign. This generally would have been in the form of a print advert, designed to different page specifications.

In the early 2000’s you may have opted for a combination of print and online, with the choice of only 1 or 2 niche job boards and a very basic static (possibly animated) banner campaign online. Job boards at the time only offered the most basic templates, restricting the creative process. There were options to upload PDF adverts but, these were prohibitively expensive by comparison and didn’t massively increase the ROI that employers received.

Today, available online media (in the UK alone) would include at least 12 relevant niche job boards, hundreds of online journals (we publish 77 in this field at Wiley alone) and countless social media communities.
The most effective campaign would involve an HTML e-mail campaign; geo-targeted, frequency capped, content linked, banners (in a range of possible formats too numerous to list); a video advert, a careers webinar (involving speakers topics and online presentations); HTML branded, sponsored, SEO optimized, online advertising campaigns; a campaign specific SEO optimized, Adword supported mini-site; Facebook pages; linkedIn groups and twitter accounts.

Oh… and because Doctors can be old fashioned in their reading habits, possibly a print campaign to boot….

A good RAD agency now relies on such skills as channel planning, creative talent, media buying, web development, SEO, Ad operations, social media expertise and video production.

It’s been a difficult transition period, and there have been casualties along the way (RIP Barkers) but, in today’s competition for talent, working with a good RAD agency adds more value.

An example of a print advert only a good RAD agency could have come up with:

A few more solid reasons to use a RAD:

A good example of making video advertising work in recruitment:

Winners of the 2013 RAD awards:

One thought on “Recruitment Advertising Agencies – Finding a New Role

  1. Pingback: Publishers and Recruitment – The Comeback! | Allister's Digital Recruitment Blog

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