Online or Print? The Recruitment Advertising Dilemma

The emergence of “online only” advertising over the past 20 years is a point of keen interest for us agencies. Many businesses are routinely making this the focus for new campaigns, which is understandable as no company wants to be left behind in this technological age. But is neglecting the old in favour of embracing the new always a wise move? Should sampling new media advertising take precedent over the tried and tested? What are the secrets of balancing multiple mediums and achieving success when you need to reach the best candidate?

Online advertising can be incredibly beneficial. It is cost effective, instantaneous and represents great value when it works. However, there are a number of underlying factors that need to be measured. To sit on top of the online pile can become expensive if you are advertising something common. If you take a cheap option, then it’s important to remember it is cheap for everyone else, which means diving into a sea of competition leaving you trying to stand out against a wave of similarity. Bluntly, your role becomes a needle in a haystack.

Woman using a mouse with a laptop on a glass table.

A print advert is less likely to get lost in the shuffle compared to a poorly executed online campaign. It is advisable to investigate forecasts for online before choosing to neglect print in its place. It may turn out that readership figures are better than online click rates in your location. Furthermore, not all companies are seeking volume. If you are advertising a popular job, you risk receiving an influx of candidates who apply to multiple vacancies simply because text matches a keyword.

Online banners targeted by user behaviours are increasingly common. These are some of the most powerful and complex methods in modern advertising, but are also exceptionally easy to access for advertisers of any size. When posted in the right place (via intelligent algorithms) these adverts generally reach a relevant audience and are successful in driving traffic. Tactics have gone further than selecting a popular website and buying impressions in the hope they will be seen by the right people. Now you can be sure of it.

So if online targeting has become so refined, what is left for the traditional options? Press revenues may be in decline, but this means the once fiercely contested market is now easily dominated, and therein lays opportunities to make huge impressions. It is important to remember the differences within target audiences too. Not every market exists purely online; entire industries, geographic areas and skilled groups of workers still have a commercially valuable relationship with the press which is unlikely to disappear.

In accordance, one has to consider the credibility of Print Advertising. Physically picking up and touching something provides a different engagement effect to seeing something visually. Print has survived previous prophets of doom too, such as radio and television. You only have to watch a 1980’s movie to see the consensus that flying cars would exist by now; this might still happen but it hasn’t happened yet and the predicted demise of print is similarly premature.

Employment opportunities header in a magazine.

 So we know that the web offers value and flexibility and we know that print is a route to elusive passive markets. What we have not yet discussed is the issue of quality. Print adverts are creatively unrestricted, there is no set template to adhere to and when produced through an agency, you are in control and can create original, specialised visuals that conformative web listings cannot replicate. It is possible to create engaging online takeover pages etc. but breaking away from the norm is when online can get expensive.

So what is the answer? A logical approach is to analyse response figures and compare your audiences’ acceptance to online strategies and print readership statistics. Utilize the benefits of online, but take care not to implement this at the expense of print without reason to do so. In many cases, a combination of both is the best approach.

Many companies are finding success in a cost effective print advert that directs readers to enhanced postings online. If both mediums are beneficial, why choose one or the other? Distribute your budget carefully and there is no reason you can’t reap the benefits of both.