Programmatic Advertising Revolution by Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst

Bridging the Gap Between Enterprise and SME Talent Acquisition Practices in Europe

Over the last few years, programmatic advertising has become part of the Talent Acquisition ecosystem of European headquartered companies. Programmatic advertising involves using automated systems to buy and place job ads across various online platforms such as social media sites, job boards or search engines. 

As with many other technologies, programmatic advertising was adopted earlier by larger international organisations in Europe, before it made its way into mid-size or small organisations, where adoption is still significantly lower.

In this blog post, we will delve into the differences of approach, the adoption across Europe, and the role of programmatic advertising in improving candidate quality and cost-effectiveness.

The Rise of Programmatic Advertising – How does it work?

One of the main reasons for programmatic advertising growing in popularity lies in its ability to streamline the sourcing process and to reduce the administrative burden for talent acquisition professionals. How does it work? In simple terms, think of it as a three-step process.

  • Define your Advertising Strategy: Your advertising strategy defines the goals and patterns your ads are going to follow. More sophisticated solutions provide an abstracted layer where you define high-level goals, others allow you to define very granular business rules. Such strategies rules are usually centred around how fast you need to fill the job, the budget you have to spend and / or the timeframe in which you are looking to receive the applicants.
  • Layout Creation and Optimisation: The layout of the job ads is automatically created based on a templated approach. A feed from your recruiting solution is used to determine which ad imagery to use for which role. Sophisticated solutions will create multiple ad layouts for A/B testing purposes and use machine learning to improve the results for future ads.

Execution: This is where you can lay back as a recruiter and let the machines do the heavy lifting for you. The programmatic advertising engine should prioritise free channels first, and play out the ads to follow your advertising strategy in the ‘best’ possible way, according to your strategy.

Challenges Faced by Enterprises and SMEs

Large corporations and SMEs each face their unique set of challenges when it comes to talent acquisition, and programmatic advertising solutions need to acknowledge that with dedicated functionality. For a large enterprise with a well-known brand, the task involves handling a massive volume of applicants, often requiring intricate processes to manage the selection. 

In contrast, SMEs struggle with less brand recognition, lower volumes and limited resources. Creating job advertisements can be a significant hurdle for them. Additionally, their reduced brand visibility makes it more challenging to effectively reach and engage potential candidates. Consequently, SMEs often turn to external agencies for support in this area, which incurs a slight premium for the additional services. Since their advertising volumes are not substantial, SMEs are more inclined towards a “burst-like” strategy rather than an “all-in” model, makng decisions on an as-needed basis. However, adopting a templated programmatic approach can greatly enhance their efficiency in this regard.

Levelling the Playing Field

One of the most striking advantages of programmatic advertising is its ability to level the playing field between enterprises and SMEs. By utilising data analytics and targeted advertising, businesses of all sizes can reach the right candidates and the right amount of candidates effectively. Unlike traditional methods that might favour larger corporations with larger budgets, programmatic advertising allows SMEs to compete on a relatively equal footing. For large enterprises however, programmatic advertising helps to reduce workload on recruiters, as a job ad will automatically be taken offline when a minimum threshold of applicants is reached – especially for lower-skilled, higher volume roles.

Data Analytics and Targeting

To work properly, programmatic advertising relies heavily on data analytics to identify the most relevant platforms and audiences for job ads. This precision in targeting ensures that job ads reach the right candidates. By dipping into paid and unpaid channels, social networks and other communities, programmatic advertising allows organisations to connect with the right people. 

Distributing the ads to the right people in the right communities is a key part of the intelligence layer of a programmatic advertising engine. The vendor promise here is that organisations will receive better-quality candidates than the usual watering-can campaigns.

Cost-Efficiency and Scalability

In addition to its targeting capabilities, programmatic advertising offers better cost-efficiency and scalability. SMEs often operate with tighter budgets, and programmatic advertising allows them to make the most of their resources. Enterprises can also benefit by optimising their budgets and reducing wasted spend, and can massively benefit from the increased automation.

The Future of Talent Acquisition

The adoption of programmatic advertising in Europe’s evolving talent acquisition landscape is on the rise. The UK is leading the way, but the larger European countries like France and Germany are now following, with the rest of Europe slightly lagging behind. As technology continues to advance, we can expect programmatic advertising to play an even more significant role in the future of talent acquisition across the continent.

In conclusion, programmatic advertising is bridging the gap between enterprise and SME talent acquisition practices in Europe. Its ability to connect businesses with the right candidates efficiently and cost-effectively has revolutionised the way organisations approach recruitment. As we move forward, the growth and innovation in programmatic advertising show no signs of slowing down, making it a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes in their pursuit of top talent.

About Fosway

Fosway Group is Europe’s #1 HR Industry Analyst focused on Next Gen HR, Talent and Learning. Founded in 1996, we are known for our unique European research, our independence, and our integrity. And just like the Roman road we draw our name from, you’ll find that we’re unusually direct. We don’t have a vested interest in your supplier or consulting choices. So, whether you’re looking for independent research, specific advice, or a critical friend to cut through the market hype, we can tell you what you need to know to succeed.

Talk to Fosway today at +44 (0) 207 917 1870, or via, or visit

Want to hear more about Programmatic Advertising can help you?

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Our team of experts has helped thousands of happy customers to get the most out of their recruitment advertising.

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