Newspaper, Online Job-Board Ad Sales Dry Up As More Employers Turn To Search


imageNon-stop layoffs made job search the fastest-growing online category last year — with traffic to sites like, and *Yahoo* HotJobs up by 51 percent in December, per comScore. But that influx of traffic didn’t translate into increased revenues for the big players in recruitment-ad sales. Digital media consultancy Advanced Interactive Media Group found that online recruitment-ad sales fell by five percent last year. Newspapers fared even worse, with recruitment ad sales down by 34 percent in 2008. And the pain may continue for both on- and offline recruitment services, according to the WSJ, as employers are increasingly using search ads as a cheaper, faster way to reach a growing pool of hungry job-seekers.

Some of the limitations, after the jump.

Search costs less, outperforms job boards and print: Employers can set up pay-per-click campaigns quickly; they can geo-target by ZIP code or city and they only pay if a user actually clicks on the ad. Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System ran paid search ads on *Google*, *Yahoo* and employment search engines and last March, as well as on job boards, and in print. The search ads delivered 5,250 applicants, with an average cost per applicant of about $4. In contrast, both job boards and print ads delivered far fewer leads at a much higher cost: the job board listings netted 3,125 applicants at a cost of $30 each, and print ads delivered 215 applicants at a cost of $750 each; Baylor has reduced spending on both channels as a result.

But there are some limitations: Sales recruitment firm Bessire & Associates found paid search ads to be far less effective; the firm devoted about 30 percent of its promotional budget for a recruitment event to paid search, but found that less than 2 percent of the attendees said they’d come as a result of a search ad. Jason Bessire, the company’s president, told the Journal it was “an utter waste of time.” The company targeted broad terms like “sales” and “commissions,” which tend to be more expensive than longer-tail queries like “sales professional event” or “job fair for experienced sales reps” — and the combination of higher-priced keywords with low response led to a poor ROI. Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling told the Journal that keyword prices could go up across the board as more employers start bidding on the same terms, and the competition could diminish search’s cost-effectiveness in the long run.

Photo Credit: karl151k



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One big limitation with search engines (both general and jobs-specific) is that the advertiser is only reaching active candidates. The highest quality passive candidates are online, but they are found on affinity sites around the Internet and are unlikely to use Google or other search engines to find jobs. To reach the most desirable candidates you have to post jobs where they'll see them online — go to the audience, don't wait for them to come to you.

The overall trend toward pay for performance for online recruitment is inevitable and is starting to take shape at the new breed of companies in the industry. As an ad network for jobs, we see this on a daily basis. The convergence of the market's demand for better solutions and better ROI with the increasing sophistication of targeting technology and the continual rise in Internet usage adds up to less and less need for central destination sites like big job boards and search engines.



Bear in mind that search engines for jobs – like – have pay-per-click advertising products other than keyword advertising. Job advertisers may sponsor their jobs on Indeed and pay when job seekers click on those ads – it's easier than keyword advertising as there's no need to pick keywords or write ad copy.


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