SEEK, the third-largest online job advertising firm in the world and Australia’s dominant job posting platform has recently announced a major price increase to the market.
Many recruitment agencies were in shock and awe when SEEK announced this price increase. Especially given their close relationship with the platform. Yet, with Indeed entering the market as a genuine competitor and Google For Jobs potentially around the corner, SEEK is in a race against time to cash in on its market monopoly. Whilst painful for recruiters, this battle between SEEK and it’s serious challengers presents a catalyst for marketing professionals to diversify their sourcing strategy.
Some might feel that the success of SEEK comes largely on the back of high-value yearly contracts and support from recruitment agencies in Australia. This doesn’t capture the whole picture.
For many years, recruitment companies have freely given SEEK their valuable content (jobs) and on top of that, paid the job board to rank number one on Google as their jobs are displayed within the SEEK brand. All in all, allowing SEEK to become the destination for job seekers and build its monopoly. This has resulted in recruiters being almost totally reliant on this job board to source candidates. Not a sustainable strategy.
From SEEK’s perspective, it sounds like a textbook strategy that companies like Indeed, Booking.com, and Google have applied right from the start. Build your consumer base on a great experience that feels like a one-stop-shop and with that becoming the go-to destination. As these companies monopolise the market, the only competition is left to those with very deep pockets.
With SEEK’s dynamic pricing model pushing through a big price increase this year, recruitment agencies have had a rude awakening to the fact that the machine, which they fed, has now come back to bite them.
At the end of the day, the question has never been to SEEK or not to SEEK. It has always been about getting the fastest, quality candidate at the lowest CPA (cost per acquisition) to acquisition value. Which, in a market with multiple players makes a clear case for a diversified recruitment marketing strategy. Recruitment industries in markets like the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Germany operate in a more diversified job board market which demands diversified strategies. In those markets, job boards have largely shifted to Pay Per Click (PPC) like models, partially due to the new dominance of Indeed.
In Australia, with the monopoly of SEEK, the approach to sourcing has been dictated by the dominance of the platform. Some job boards have gained minimal market share in niches but none have been able to break the monopoly.
But things are changing fast. Indeed, spotting that Australia is a global top 10 recruitment market, entered to get their piece of the pie. Since their launch, we have seen Indeed invest, grab market share, and lure SEEK into launching countermeasures such as Jora. At the same time, we have seen LinkedIn play a strong role in the hard-to-fill roles, headhunting, passive candidate space, also aggregating jobs, and offering job slots. We have also seen Google For Jobs enter multiple Asian markets, but for now, has not entered into Australia. I believe that we can expect further disruption to SEEK’s hold on the market when Google For Jobs launches here.
Now that SEEK has become more expensive, they have leveled the playing field for alternative channels like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Google to be leveraged by digital marketers at relatively cheaper rates and similar outcomes. For many, SEEK is no longer the fastest, cheapest way to source candidates.
With other sourcing options available the need to diversify has become more clear. We must bring our recruitment marketing efforts back to “what is the fastest way to get a quality candidate at the lowest CPA to acquisition value?”
In e-commerce, managing spend over multiple sources based on CPA has been a must-have skill for digital marketers for many years. If not already present, this skill needs to be quickly brought into Australia’s recruitment companies too including programmatic job posting engines.
In a strange sort of way, marketers at recruitment agencies might almost be thankful to SEEK. It has caused recruitment companies to rethink their performance marketing strategy and the risky dependency on SEEK. They also realise that marketing has moved from a consultant activity to a highly skilled function, key to the success of their businesses.
My hope is that while SEEK drives up prices to maintain its monopoly, recruitment agencies will be agile and diversify their recruitment marketing strategy. A monopoly is hardly ever beneficial to the market. I’m quite sure SEEK has thought this through from A to Z, but have all those in recruitment done the same?