Part 3:

Recruitment Advertising Source Evaluation

Testing and Optimization

When it comes to recruitment advertising, the more you test, the more you know. When thinking about recruitment advertising as a part of the bigger picture of your recruitment funnel, making small changes can deliver exponential ROI from your budget. The more traffic (or interest) that you can drive at the top of your recruiting funnel, while focusing on conversion rates, the greater success you will have toward building pipeline for the bottom of your recruiting funnel. Impressions, clicks, and applies on your open positions are tied to your bottom line: getting the right people hired for your organization, at the right cost.

Test your programs to understand what is or isn’t working. Areas for testing and optimization can include:

Recruitment Messaging
  • A/B test job titles
  • Job descriptions
  • Landing page content
  • Calls-to-action
  • Employer branding messages
  • Social media images
  • Display ads
  • Print material
  • Corporate career site
Candidate Communication
  • Lead nurturing via email
  • Email correspondence
  • Phone screening techniques
  • Chat bots
  • Texting tools
Recruitment Advertising
  • Job ad bidding tests
  • Slot optimization tests
  • Geographic expansion
  • Title expansion

The Measurement Mindset

Defining measurement at your organization

What a quality candidate source looks like at your organization will depend on how each source delivers for your needs. While how you identify and measure quality is discernible, how you measure the performance of your recruitment advertising sources should be analyzed and evaluated across an even playing field.

When you start to run multiple recruitment advertising campaigns across different sources, the data you receive back from your job sites may appear slanted; metrics such as cost-per-applicant, apply time, cost-per-click, and more. Knowing this, it becomes particularly challenging to run comparison reports across all your sources with the increasing number of types of performance models available to recruiters. Thus, it’s imperative to understand how you can compare your sources apples to apples, against your own performance metrics.

Focusing on metrics that matter and marrying analytics to media

When it comes to metrics, track KPIs not only to measure recruitment advertising ROI, but with the purpose of improving ROI. What you measure should improve your overall business results, and when implemented properly, analytics provide the necessary information to track and optimize for future improvement.

3-Step Easy Analytics

Decide on a measurement framework
Define a commonality & communicate the necessary metrics you need to track to your sources
Align your analytics with the delivery model

With an even playing field, you can start to implement changes to your recruitment advertising strategy that will impact your overall performance across all your sources.

Start by separating out your free sources from your paid sources. Free is free. It’s important to not let free traffic confuse the success metrics from the real budget you are pouring into the market to generate candidates for your jobs.

Then, from your paid performance media sources, regardless of if you are buying per post, per click, apply click, or applicant, you should choose a common metric and run the math so that you’re measuring all your sources on the same performance metric. Ideally, you will want to measure performance as close to a hire as possible. Cost-per-applicant or cost-per-qualityapplicant are two consistent metrics to strive toward and utilize when measuring performance across all your sources.

What does a candidate look like for your organization?

  • Is it capturing a job seeker’s email?
  • Is it a job seeker who starts to fill out an application?
  • Is it a job seeker who completes a full application?

What does a quality candidate look like for your organization?

  • Is it a job seeker who completes a full job application?
  • Is it a candidate who passes a phone screen?
  • Is it a candidate who makes it to the interviewing slate?

What is a quality recruitment advertising source/publisher at your organization?

  • Is it a source that delivers candidates that meet your volume benchmark?
  • Is it a source that delivers candidates that meet your cost benchmark?
Setting Recruitment Benchmarks

Metrics to Track

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

CPC is the amount paid out when a job seeker clicks on an advertisement to view it from the job listings page. This is similar to a lot of other advertising offerings in the consumer space, such as Google’s Doubleclick platform.

Many recruitment media publishers make use of cost-per-click models. The reasoning behind this option is that interest in the ad is what drives the value of each one. Keeping track of this metric is essential to navigating the majority of job sites, as most offer a CPC consumption model.

Cost-Per-Applicant (CPA)

Cost-per-applicant is how much it costs to get a candidate through your online apply process. Only completed applications are considered against the cost of advertising spend.

Cost-Per-Hire (CPH)

Some studies have shown that cost-per-hire is a falsified, inaccurate metric. It fails to capture all the factors of a position long unfilled. In reality, it’s only part of the overall cost of having an open position.

Cost-per-hire forgets the various levers available to recruiters – the days of posting an ad in the newspaper are long gone, and now recruitment is a far more interactive process. Instead, consider the impact on your overall spend. How much money have you spent on your openings?

CPH allows you to measure job openings by their direct impact on the organization, rather than simply the hiring plan. A lot of factors may contribute to cost-per-hire, such as the cost of recruitment media and the cost of covering the opening until it’s filled, thus providing a more accurate benchmark.


Like time-to-fill, time-to-interview is the total number of days an open job is available and unfilled before interviews commence.

The longer time-to-interview, the greater cost associated with advertising and promoting the open job.


Time-to-fill is calculated by adding up the total number of days the open job is available and unfilled. Time-to-fill is a metric that not only speaks to the quality of the applicants you are receiving and screening, but also the cost associated with obtaining that talent. Longer time-to-fill may result in a more expensive cost-per-hire as the time and effort associated with filling the role extends.

While it’s a harder metric to track, and will vary across different job types, it’s helpful in quantifying the greater impact of having unfilled positions at your organization. Talent acquisition teams that track and analyze their time-to-fill (alongside other recruiting metrics) can help to improve and eliminate any strains that may be present in the organization due to an unfilled position.

Applicant Volume by Hires

Applicant volume by hires describes the number of applicants, per each open requisition, that’s needed to make a hire. This is calculated by tracking, how many applications are needed to make one hire, across each job or job group.

Tracking and understanding this metric is impactful because it can be used as a benchmark to properly advertise your open jobs and drive the appropriate number of applicants to screen. With some backwards math, knowing how many applicants you need to make one hire will help make your recruitment advertising spend across all your candidate sources more effective.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Various changes that have occurred in the industry over the last decade are upending how companies think about optimizing their recruitment spend and talent acquisition processes. Specifically, in terms of strategy and data, having a holistic view of what the candidate journey looks like is more important than ever before to drive the biggest impact.

Let’s take a step back… how have people thought about the candidate journey historically? Before the breakout of the internet, recruiting and talent acquisition thought of the process as very linear. People became aware of a company from a single outletThey applied to the position via that same outletAttribution of initial interest in that job was singular.

In today’s digital talent acquisition environment, the paths to conversion along the candidate journey are unrestricted, less confined. Multi-touch attribution needs to be considered as a part of the process.

Today, the real candidate journey truly is a jumble. Social networks, job sites, consumer sites, and many other outlets, cause the candidate journey now involves various different touch points.

What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

In the mar-tech world, multi-touch attribution is a more advanced way to associate internet activity. It's a method used to prove the value of a B2B marketing strategy in the form of down-funnel metrics that matter to the business -- opportunities and revenue. In online recruiting and talent acquisition, the approach is the same.

Candidate Journey

If the last point that they touch is the source of hire, organizations will only get a small glimpse into the question: “how did that person actually end up at my job and apply?” It’s time for companies to take a step back and look at the greater touch points throughout the candidate journey. Each touch point is an opportunity for employers; they’re points in time that influence a candidate’s decision to apply… and there’s always room for improvement.

The bottom line: the way that hiring companies think about their recruitment processes should evolve to match the current digital and transparent landscape. Having access to multi-touch attribution data will help hiring organizations raise the bar on their talent acquisition performance. Understanding what various touch points are creating an impact along your candidate journey will help you allocate more budget towards those specific high-performing areas.

Talent Acquisition Spotlight – Media Review

Employer – Sodexo


Sodexo used quality applicants as their benchmark when measuring the quality of their recruitment advertising sources. Sodexo used the workflow status within their iCIMS ATS to help notate their 'qualified' candidates.

Step 1

Sodexo established a baseline percentage of qualified candidates they were receiving from all sources, by industry.

Sodexo Recruitment Media Review
Step 2

They took their recruitment advertising media review a step further to look at the breakdown of each source across all of their campaigns on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Step 3

They used this framework to run the same Monthly & Quarterly source evaluation for all of their sources. They could use this data to winnow down their sources and put budget only toward the high-performers.

Appcast's pay-per-applicant model fits in perfectly with the data-driven approach to recruitment we have sought to develop, while enabling us to optimize our job ad spend. It enables us to connect with top talent more efficiently and cost effectively.

Selecting Recruitment Advertising Technology

Programmatic Recruitment Technology

The modern age of recruiting is being shaped by programmatic technology — harnessing the power of data and software to radically change how jobs are advertised online. The growth of competition in the jobs market has fueled the adoption of programmatic recruitment advertising, and will continue to do so, as more employers expect real-time transparency and performance from their online advertising budgets.

On its own, programmatic simply means “following a plan, policy, or program.” In the world of advertising, it involves the buying and selling of advertising space in real time. With programmatic technology, sophisticated algorithms find your target audience and ensure that your ads get in front of them in the most efficient way possible. These same processes allow for in-flight adjustments to optimize ad performance. The same holds true in recruitment.

When choosing a programmatic recruitment advertising platform, it’s essential to choose one that will work for your business’s needs. The right programmatic technology will save you money, help you do more with less, and ultimately allow you to grow your recruitment advertising programs better and faster.

Programmatic Recruitment Advertising Platform

Programmatic Projections

Programmatic Ad Buying Projections

In 2017, Appcast & KRT Marketing projected what the growth of programmatic would look like – in the consumer space, and in the recruitment space. In both industries, the growth of this technology has been exponential as it’s proved to deliver better ROI for advertisers alike. In 2019 alone, eMarketer predicts that $57 billion will go to programmatic advertising in the US.

The Future of Recruitment


Parting Thoughts on Recruitment Advertising

Talent acquisition is a difficult task. And recruitment advertising - just one piece of the puzzle - is a crucial piece. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ methodology that can be implemented for every organization, but our guide provides the framework for a starting point. With planning, solid execution, and an accurate source evaluation methodology, you’ll be bringing candidates into your organization in no time.

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