2006: The Year Online Surpassed Print for Recruitment Advertising Dollars

According to new research from Borrell Associates, 2006 was the first year where more money was spent advertising jobs online than in print newspapers - $5.9 billion for online, compared with $5.4 billion for newspaper ads. According to the research report summary,

".....When the history of Internet advertising is written, recruitment sites will undoubtedly dominate the first chapter. In 12 years, these sites have grown from a few big job boards to hundreds of niche competitors. Online recruitment now accounts for 25 percent of Internet advertising revenue.....".

While newspapers have managed to offset some of these losses by launching their own online career websites, the revenue generated falls far short of replacing revenue losses from declines in print recruitment ads. And this is really bad news for newspapers considering how much a newspaper relies on classified advertising for its profits.

Meanwhile, a recent Business Week article titled Online Job Sites Battle for Share describes how online job boards are using social-networking features to battle for market share. This could be more bad news for print newspapers that can't possibly compete with this trend. But while the big job boards are winning the battle against print newspapers, they have their hands full with niche job board challengers who appear to be more quickly adapting to "Web 2.0" interactive features (social-networking).

Another trend to watch in 2007 is how more corporations will begin to enhance their own career sites using social networking technology to "build community". A few companies like Jobster and TalentPen already offer technologies to help corporations improve their career sites in this manner.

Surprisingly, some of the big job boards don't seem to view this as a threat as the Business Week article points out:

"..For now, pointing to their revenue growth, the Big Three deny their foothold on the market is slipping. CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson says tools like social-networking job sites are yet to be proven: "We don't believe there's such a thing as a community of job seekers," he says....".

Hmmmm. That's how the print newspaper executives were thinking in the 1990's with respect to the Internet.

Anyway, what is happening with online recruitment is reminiscent of what happened with traditional bricks and mortar stores in the early days of the Internet - a kind of wait and see mentality. Once these technologies are proven (e.g., social networking as it relates to recruiting), it is likely that many of the big job boards will jump on board and likely maintain their leadership.

Some related postings to this debate can be found at:

- Social Networking meets Recruitment and Staffing
- If it's Not a Bubble, How Can it Burst? More Talk about Web 2.0

Posted by Mark Willaman