How Demand Side Platforms (DSP) Are Changing Recruitment

How Demand Side Platforms (DSP) Are Changing Recruitment

Advertising has evolved over time to make the interaction between advertisers and publishers more efficient. This evolution usually goes from simple manual integrations to sophisticated automated technologies like a DSP.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic” – Arthur C. Clarke

Recruitment advertising is currently going through the same steps.

Summary: Evolution of AdTech [own figure]
Summary: Evolution of AdTech [own figure]
A particular tool stands out to assist performance-oriented recruitment marketers: the Demand Side Platform or DSP, which we will explore in this new post along with:

  • How to solve the recruitment marketer’s problem of hiring for an extensive workforce
  • How marketing technology has evolved throughout the years and how recruitment marketing will benefit from adtech advances
  • What Demand Side Platforms are and how they work
  • The difference between DSPs and the traditional recruitment stack
  • How to integrate DSPs into existing recruitment workflows


Manual Work: A Recruitment Marketer’s Challenge

Modern companies are often faced with talent acquisition challenges derived from the need to recruit large workforces. These challenges create complex recruitment processes.

For example, hiring C-level executive positions is a very different task than hiring for hourly, on-demand jobs. Whereas the efforts to recruit executives can usually be led by headhunters, workforce hiring, where many different positions need to be filled at once, is a task best suited for recruiters.

Recruitment Marketer's Challenge [own figure]
Recruitment Marketer’s Challenge [own figure]
Workforce recruiters face these challenges:

  • Time Investment: Job seekers are sourced through many different channels and need simultaneous management and monitoring.
  • Manual Setup: Job boards and recruitment systems have to be configured manually
  • Application Volumes: Hourly jobs demand high applicant volumes. Thus, any workforce recruitment solution in place has to be able to scale to accommodate these needs.
  • Applicant Quality: Recruiters need to pay attention when handling high applicant volumes. They should look to maximize applicant-to-hire ratio.
  • Data Analysis: Recruitment campaigns generate lots of data. Information such as cost attribution can be difficult to evaluate without programmatic tools.

Faced with similar challenges, other marketing verticals have already solved these problems in the past. Travel marketing is such an example as it went through the following key stages:

  • Supply creation: Means of transportation evolved, and especially with the advent of commercial aviation, the industry created whole new services for travelers
  • Supply management: Explosive growth of air travel led airlines to automate their bookings to better manage huge numbers of passengers and eventually created their own computerized reservation platforms
  • Sales and distribution: To facilitate access to airline schedules and fares, travel agencies became sales and booking channels for the airlines, later expanding into online territory when the internet put millions of passengers just a click away from traveling
  • Advanced discovery: Advanced metasearch, review sites, and alternative air travel marketplaces are all customer-centric tools that optimize the travel experience by harnessing abundance of choice and eliminating complexity so that travelers focus on getting the best possible deals

Recruitment Marketing is trending in a similar direction.

Evolution of Marketing Technology: From Affiliate to Recruitment

The adtech industry had similar challenges: as advertisement supply was created, it then had to be properly managed to achieve the best results; then its sales and distribution platforms had to evolve and, similarly—once marketing efforts moved online—new, advanced ways of discovery were made available to both advertisers and consumers.

In broad terms, marketing technology evolved, going from manual implementations of online ads to whole automated platforms, moving through the following milestones:

Evolution of Marketing Technology [own figure]
Evolution of Marketing Technology [own figure]
Recruitment marketing echoes the technological evolution of the overall advertising/marketing industry. It moved from traditional affiliate marketing practices to state-of-the-art advertising technology, or adtech, solutions such as:

  • Pre-20th Century: Scattered supply – offline (‘Help Wanted’ Signs)
  • 20th Century: Bundled supply – offline (Newspaper Classifieds)
  • Mid-90s: Bundled supply – online (Online Job Boards)
  • Early 2000s: Advanced discovery – online (Job Ad Aggregators)
  • 2015 – Present: Automated distribution and discover – online (Programmatic Recruitment)

Automation is the next logical step in marketing for all verticals, thanks to the advances of adtech. To that extent the OpenRTB project was created to drive the growth of RTB advertising and provide industry standards for communication between ad buyers and sellers in the marketplace.

Performance-conscious recruitment marketers can leverage adtech advancements by incorporating RTB capabilities into their toolset to reach job seekers where they are. One way of doing that is via DSPs.

Demand Side Platform Explained: How a DSP Works

Before discussing applications of recruitment-specific DSPs it helps to understand its working in general adtech terms.

A Demand-Side Platform (DSP) is a tool designed to help advertisers connect with several different ad exchanges at once, using a single user interface.

Up until the advent of DSPs, advertisers would normally manage different ad exchange accounts through multiple interfaces—an inefficient, error prone process that left much to slower human interaction.

To address this issue, DSPs assist advertisers in the creation and management of multiple, self-optimizing campaigns, leveraging third-party data (through integration with Data Management Platforms or DMPs). This capabilities improve consumer targeting and provide advanced analytics capabilities. As a result, DSPs increase ROI for advertisers thanks to their automated, streamlined approach.

What Are the Main Benefits of DSPs?

The key benefits of Demand-Side Platforms for advertisers include:

  • Expanded Audience Reach: By using advanced targeting methods, DSPs allow reaching consumers using very specific details such as location, behavior, interests, and more, regardless of the channel being used
  • Access to a Wider Ad Inventory: By working together with publishers, DSPs can access more ad inventory across many different in real time
  • Increased campaign efficiency: The advanced level of control offered by DSPs allow advertisers to manage and optimize their campaigns with granular detail. Advanced features include:
    • Frequency capping: to avoid overexposure to ads by controlling the frequency with which these are displayed to users
    • Dayparting: to select specific time frames during the day to display the ads for maximum efficiency
    • Behavioral targeting: to tailor ads to be more relevant and targeted to users
  • Real-time Optimization: advertisers can serve the most relevant ads by reacting in real time to all sorts of external conditions, such as sport events, political news, trending topics on social media, weather, financial markets, and more
  • Integration With Third-party Data Tools: Data coming from different sources, such as external data providers and/or DMPs, can be seamlessly integrated into the DSP for added flexibility and optimized targeting
  • Capital Efficiency and Increased ROI: DSPs usually offer flat rates as opposed to the variable pricing structures of other platforms, giving advertisers fixed costs that are easier to budget. Additionally, the improved targeting capabilities of DSPs increase conversion rates because ads are displayed to the most relevant audiences all the time.
Demand-Side-Platform (DSP) as Part of the Ad Stack [source:]
Demand-Side-Platform (DSP) as Part of the Ad Stack [source:]

DSPs and Recruitment Marketing

Within the recruitment marketing space, DSPs work in a similar fashion as described above, but with a focus on the following features and its associated benefits:

  • Job-Specific Reach: Recruitment DSPs are integrated with job specific publishers, such as job boards, highly-targeted display ads, mailing lists, SMS ads, messaging apps, and search ads. All these different channels provide multiple touchpoints to reach job seekers, with DSPs offering a single interface to manage the several ad exchanges involved.
  • Job-Specific Data: DSPs provide an integrated tracking infrastructure to analyze data along the recruitment funnel. The different key metrics extracted from the funnel, such as volumes of applicants and hires, CPA, CPH, and LTV, among others, feed relevant data into optimization algorithms that drive ad-buying decisions and are aligned with the recruiter’s goals.
  • Job-Specific Optimization: Recruitment goals are very specific—the aim is in getting the best possible quality of hire, as well as the highest recruitment marketing ROI. The automation capabilities provided by DSPs allow recruiters to optimize their funnels for these goals by reaching relevant job seekers and lowering their recruitment costs

DSPs Compared to the Common Recruitment Stack: What Is Different?

Demand-Side Platforms offer several key advantages when compared to the traditional “recruitment stack” of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), job boards and aggregators, and recruitment agencies.

What are these differences and what advantages can DSPs offer over the common recruitment stack?


ATS and DSPs serve different needs: whereas recruiters use ATS to filter and review job applications, DSPs are primarily intended to buy job ads inventory and increase the number of relevant applications:


  • Big improvement over keeping paper records and applying manual processes
  • Visual representation of application flow where multiple employees (recruiters; hiring managers; etc.) can collaborate and collectively evaluate a single job candidate. This is very important for highly-specialized positions where culture fit and human review is more important than automation and speed
  • Serves as simplified applicant database


  • At the top-of-funnel level, DSPs source the right amount of high quality candidates by targeting both active and passive job seekers and turning them into applicants
  • In the mid-of-funnel stage, DSPs help recruiters deploy remarketing and retargeting strategies to pull applicants back into the funnel and resume their applications if, for some reason, they dropped them off
  • Finally, in the bottom-of-funnel, DSPs manage to keep new and existing hires engaged through remarketing campaigns to get them take on new projects, join referral campaigns, and implement other strategies to keep application flows running
  • In addition, DSPs are able to track all data through every stage of the recruitment funnel for further analysis

A major disadvantage of ATS is their lack of easy-to-use application flows, an issue that effectively keeps job seekers away from the funnel. These difficulties arise from problems such as long application times, lack of response from employers, unreliable software, and redundant information requests. These disadvantages are particularly off-putting in the case of hourly jobs.

Job Boards/Aggregators vs. DSP

Posting ads manually on a job board is a time consuming and cumbersome task—it is error-prone and wastes valuable employee hours that could be used for more productive tasks.

Due to its lack of programmatic features, manual job ad posting misses a lot of the key analytics data that can help recruitment marketers track conversions, resulting on missed campaign optimization opportunities.

Conversely, DSPs offer advanced features that improve job board ad buying in a way that boards and aggregators, by design, cannot provide:

  • Simple Job Ad Deployment: Creation of job ad campaigns happens in one single interface and gets multiplied across many sourcing channels (job boards; display ads; etc.)
  • Automated Campaign Management: Job ad campaigns are automatically managed (turned on/off; paused; resumed; CPC bid increase/decrease; etc.) based on available budgets and goal achievement
  • Easy A/B Testing of Content: Job ad content (job title; job description; search keywords; etc.) is constantly being adjusted to find the sweet spot for the relevant job seeker audiences
  • Unified Cost Monitoring: Job ad campaign investments can be monitored for all sourcing channels, this helps with comparability and campaign evaluation

Recruitment Agencies vs. DSP

Traditionally, recruitment agencies are service-focused businesses. Employers pay agencies for their knowledge and best-practice expertise. With the emergence of recruitment software tools, most recruitment agencies started using technology to provide benefits to their clients. In the past, such software tools were difficult to use (little/no automation), hard to get (custom-built software), and pricy to operate (specialized talent required).

Recruitment-centric DSPs have emerged over the past years and have become accessible, easy to use, and affordable. Now, employers have the opportunity of building the strategically-important expertise in-house with the help of such recruitment platforms.

Automation: A Recruitment Marketer’s Delight

A key advantage of DSPs is their ability to be seamlessly integrated inside existing recruiters’ setups, with minimum disruption to their workflows. Once a DSP has been quickly deployed it can start integrating with job boards and other sources to gain access to job seeker audiences and reach both active and passive job seekers where they are. This is a time-saving benefit that further improves recruitment marketing ROI.

By correctly setting up job ad campaigns in their DSPs, acquisition marketers can quickly start sourcing applicants into their recruitment funnels. These might include ATS solutions and/or applicants databases. However, the sourcing itself is done programmatically, saving lots of time and effort when compared to other traditional methods as described above.

A DSP setup checklist should, as a minimum, include the following items:

Recruitment Workflows: Standard vs. DSP [own figure]
Recruitment Workflows: Standard vs. DSP [own figure]

Minimally Invasive, Maximally Favorable: DSPs in the Recruitment Workflow

To summarize these benefits, DSPs offer recruiters and workforce growth teams:

Larger Scale

  • Multi-Channel Integrations: Access to all job ad inventory on the web
  • Custom Integrations: Continue using existing channels that have already proven to perform for the recruiter and ability to tap into new channels

Time Saving

  • Campaign Automation: Automated campaign management (turn on/off; boost/pause; etc.) based on campaign goals
  • ML-assisted Campaign Optimization: Continuous improvement of job ad campaigns based on campaign objective settings (target CPA vs. # of conversions)
  • Programmatic Distribution: Fully-automated/tailored deployment of job ads across all selected sourcing channels

Budget Optimization

  • Advanced Cost-Calculation: Calculation and comparison of recruitment efforts based on effective Cost-per-Hire (eCPH)
  • Budget Optimization: Budget allocation to channels depending on the average Quality-of-Hire (QoH) from their traffic
  • Smart Bidding: Constant cost-per-click (CPC) bid adjustment to effectively boost or throttle performance on a per-channel basis
  • Transparent Pricing: Platform usage with transparent pricing model (technology fee as % on top of media spend)

Improved Quality

  • Tracking Framework: End-to-end tracking solution across the application funnel
  • Data Analytics: Reporting dashboard for unified campaign overview
  • Traffic Transparency: Understanding where applicants are coming from and how well they are performing
  • Data Import/Export: Ability to use collected data from the application funnel and 3rd party vendor data to improve targeting and bidding of the job ad campaigns
  • Audience Modeling: Creation of look-alike audiences to target job seekers, which share traits/aspects of high-performing hires

Bottomline: Demand Side Platforms Are the Future of Recruitment Marketing

Performance-conscious recruitment marketers and recruiters themselves have a powerful tool at their disposal in the form of Demand Side Platforms.

DSPs offer key advantages within the programmatic recruitment space to help recruiters reach volume and scale in their workforce hiring efforts, while saving time and money, thanks to its extensive automation and optimization capabilities.

Recruitment Marketer's Delight [own figure]
Recruitment Marketer’s Delight [own figure]

If you have insights and opinions on this topic please share your thoughts.

Thanks, Team Perengo

Contact Sales Request Demo Email Course

Perengo is a programmatic recruitment platform.

High-growth businesses and Fortune 500 companies use Perengo to solve their recruitment challenges at scale. The platform provides tools for operational recruitment automation and strategic business intelligence.