Among the hottest Web sites of the past few years were job-search sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com. Helped by lavish advertising, they became household names. Newspapers, eager to tap the fast-growing online-ad market, teamed up with them.
Now, the hottest names in online recruitment are increasingly specialized job sites. That poses a threat to the growth prospects of the broad-based online job boards and their newspaper partners, analysts said.
In August, the number of unique visitors to CareerBuilder — which is jointly owned by Gannett, Tribune, McClatchy and Microsoft — dropped 2% to 20.2 million, while Monster.com’s traffic rose 4% to 16.3 million visitors.
By contrast, technology-focused Dice.com saw its traffic jump 34% to 998,000. At Healthcaresource.com, which posts health-care jobs, traffic rose 36%.
Of the broad-based sites, Yahoo‘s HotJobs posted strong growth, with traffic rising 53% to 11.7 million visitors, boosted by recent partnership deals with more than 350 newspapers.
“Advertisers are increasingly looking for more-targeted audiences and better-reach sites where they can find candidates that are more qualified,” said Eric Yoon, chief executive of JobThread, which sells recruitment ads on dozens of targeted Web sites. In some of these cases, the cost of placing an ad is a fraction of a post on the big job boards.
Unless the newspaper industry and the big job sites figure out how to fill this burgeoning demand, they could lose market share, said Gordon Borrell, Chief Executive of Williamsburg, Va., research firm Borrell Associates. The market is valued at $5.9 billion but is projected to increase 25% to $9.7 billion by 2011, Borrell estimates. That growth is expected to come both from big companies already advertising online as well as small and medium-size local businesses that mostly don’t use the Web.
The big jobs sites are growing at a steady clip and they say they are making efforts to expand into both international and more-targeted markets. They have allied with newspapers as a way of gaining a local sales presence and a stronger brand name. The New York Times has been a partner of Monster.com, a unit of Monster Worldwide.
“Those have been successful partnerships for newspapers by giving them access to both a national audience as well as leveraging their own local sales and local audience,” said Randy Bennett, vice president of audience and new-business development for the National Newspaper Association.
Some employers complain advertising on broad-based sites generates too many unqualified applications, analysts said. New York online marketing firm 360i, for instance, said it has posted jobs listings on CareerBuilder and HotJobs with little results. “When we are looking for somebody to put a post up there…you get a fair amount of response, but not the quality,” said 360i Chief Executive Bryan Weiner. The firm hasn’t succeeded in hiring any senior-level staff from the broad-based sites.
“Obviously when you are going to a site that has a much larger user base you can get more applicants. You have more to choose from.” said a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder. CareerBuilder and Monster both note that employers can set multiple filters to weed out unqualified candidates.
“To ensure we always have the best talent in every region, across the county, Monster has relationships with several niche sites that target specific demographics. We also have added visibility in the regions touched by the local media outlets we have forged relationships with,” a Monster spokesman said.
Some Web concerns are taking steps to be more targeted in their approach. HotJobs has built an application on social networking site Facebook and is including tools on the site that enable people to email or instant-message a posting.
Yahoo is creating systems so recruitment ads on HotJobs could appear on other Web sites, using techniques that target the ad according to a person’s interests. For instance, if a person registers on an online profile as a nurse in the Southeast, that person could see ads related to the nursing profession. “This is enabling advertisers to go more into the niches…these people are out there on the Web in all sorts of places,” said Kevin Krim, vice president of product at Yahoo HotJobs. “We can reach out to them there with display advertising.”
Newspaper companies are starting to make other investments, too. The New York Times has invested in Indeed.com, a site that lets visitors search for jobs on all the sites that appear on the Web.
One possibility for broad-based sites is to partner with their niche rivals. The difficulty, analysts said, is such an arrangement would hurt the broad-based sites’ revenue because niche sites can’t charge as much for ads. “The larger boards need to be careful because to some extent they could cannibalize themselves [by investing in or working with the emerging sites],” said John Janedis, a publishing and advertising agencies analyst at Wachovia Securities. “Everything is on the table now. We’ll see how it plays out.”