Former Dapper CEO Beriker Turning Jobs Into Ads At Simply Hired

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james-berikerSimply Hired is, simply put, a search engine for jobs.

But with new president and CEO James Beriker aboard, after his chief executive experience at Efficient Frontier and Dapper (acquired by Yahoo in 2010), the job search business may receive a media makeover.

Upon the early 2012 completion of the company's restructuring, Beriker was hired by the Sunnyvale, California-based Simply Hired’s board last November to take the company to its next stage (which insiders may hope is similar to Dapper’s final act – acquisition). Considering the location in Yahoo’s hometown, Yahoo’s divestiture of HotJobs back in 2010, and Yahoo’s new strategic initiatives such as Tumblr, job seeker “uniques” could be attractive.

Beriker explains that to create today’s index of 13 million jobs, Simply Hired scours the web as well as takes in feeds from job boards. In turn, the jobs data is fed into the Simply Hired search engine, which includes pay-per-click job ads that ride along with the search result pages – a key part of the revenue equation going forward.  Also, recruiters can post jobs with Simply Hired’s network of partner sites such as Mashable, providing a revenue share between Simply Hired and its network.

On his company’s SEM (search engine marketing) approach, Beriker sees room to run: “It feels a lot like the early days of SEM, where we’re educating employers on what SEM in recruitment is, what it means to bid for position, how we determine ranking and why that model is effective in terms of sourcing candidates.”

With the online recruiting market anticipated to grow to over $6 billion by 2015 according to IDC, Simply Hired, just like any marketer, looks to take advantage by surfacing “the right jobs to the right job seekers at the right time,” says Beriker.

AdExchanger spoke to Beriker recently.  He is also on the board of ad tech companies isocket and Eyeview.

AdExchanger: Some might perceive online recruiting as a bit of a commoditized industry. Given your experience at Efficient Frontier, where SEM platforms may have appeared similar to one another, what are the keys to differentiating?

JAMES BERIKER: I didn’t view what we were doing at Efficient Frontier as being commoditized. I viewed it as being highly specialized. The Efficient Frontier team was ahead of the market in terms of having the right technology solution in place and taking it to market, to the right segment of advertisers at the right point in time. We did that in the US around 2003. We did that in the UK and Germany in the 2006-2007 timeframe.

Some of it is luck, but you also position yourself to be lucky, and the reason that Efficient Frontier was successful is that our solution made a significant impact on the performance of our client campaigns.

Shifting back to Simply Hired, we have a technology solution that is unique. There are a handful of other people who offer pay-for-performance or pay-per-click advertising in recruitment, and if you look at 2012 performance-based advertising, recruitment was 5% or less [of spend]. Over time, recruitment ad dollars are going to get smarter, just like they did in general advertising.

We’re well-positioned in recruitment advertising. Dapper was the same. In display advertising circa 2010, Dapper was among the first to bring the kind of efficiency to display advertising that advertisers were seeing in search by leveraging data and dynamic display. It feels like the same type of opportunity with Simply Hired.

Just like any publisher, is there an SEO strategy that‘s an important part to Simply Hired’s success?

Sure. We’re acknowledged as having the right content for job seekers, so we do get indexed very well on Google and other search engines, but it’s a far, far smaller portion of our overall traffic than you might imagine. We don’t share those numbers, but it’s not the lion’s share of our traffic.

To give you a sense of how diverse our user mix is, we get traffic from SEO and a small amount of traffic through SEM. We also have a large network of partners that syndicate our job results, such as Mashable and CNN Money among others – that is a very large portion of our traffic and in terms of a unique footprint.

We also do about five million email alerts a day. So if you come to us looking for a job, we will send you an email alert every day with new jobs for your query. In fact, as we learn more about the kinds of jobs that you search for and click on, we’ll tailor the email so that you are receiving the most relevant jobs on a daily basis.

Email is big for us and speaks to one of the key differences between core search and vertical search, and that is the act of looking for a job. This isn’t [for] people looking for information. This is [for] people who are looking, specifically, for work.  In many ways, it’s very different than what Google does and what other organic engines do.

Looking ahead, what would you like to accomplish at Simply Hired in the next 12 months? Any milestones you can share?

Part of my goal in the next 12 months is to bring some of the best practices that we’ve seen in ad tech into recruitment advertising, and start differentiating us by driving efficiencies on both the job seeker’s side and the employer’s side.

My understanding and background in paid search advertising plays well into that, or at least gives me the appropriate context.

In terms of the kinds of innovations that we can bring to the recruitment market into the next 12 months, mobile is an interesting one, and I’ll make a prediction…But first, some context: 35% of all of our users come to us through either a smartphone or a tablet. That breaks out [to] about 60% smartphone, 40% tablet. On the smartphone side, it’s about 50/50 Android versus iOS, but the big number is 35% of job seekers are looking for jobs on a mobile device, and yet only 10% of employers have mobile-enabled websites and 3% of employers have native applications. There’s a real gap between the way in which job seekers are searching for jobs and the way in which employers are sourcing job seekers. That gap has to close.

The prediction I’d like to make is that by 2015, 50% of all job searches will come from a mobile device – either a smartphone or a tablet. A big area of focus for us is enabling job seekers to more effectively search for and apply for jobs using mobile phones and tablets, and enabling employers to more effectively capture the interests of job seekers who are using mobile phones and tablets. In the next 12 months, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of mobile technologies on the employer’s side and continued growth in the use of mobile devices by job seekers.

There is also a real opportunity for us to leverage our data and do a better job at driving relevancy for our job seekers.  Also, how do we help job seekers in their journey by providing them with data and insights that help them? We’ve got a tremendous amount of data around the supply and demand – or the marketplace for jobs.

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