How Magellan Health Drives Recruitment Advertising With Programmatic

What's your name?

Charlotte Marshall

What is your company name?

Magellan Health 

What's your title?

Vice President, Digital/Social Media & Employer Brand 

What city is your company based in?

Scottsdale, AZ

What country is your company based in?


How many employees does your company have?


How would you categorize your spark?

Recruiting - Employer Brand

What's the challenge you had to overcome?

For many of you, when you think about where your perfect candidate is hanging out online, you first think of advertising on the most popular recruitment websites. Yet advertising your open roles on all of these sites is cost prohibitive for most.

To combat this problem, Magellan Health made a change that ensured our jobs were reaching the best talent, without increasing spend.

There is a better, more modern way to advertise your jobs – using programmatic media buying. When Magellan Health made the switch to programmatic, we were able to: 

  • Cast a wider net without increasing costs
  • Reduce wasted spend
  • Create new pipelines for hard to fill roles

What did you do to solve it?

What is Programmatic? Simply put, programmatic advertising is an online data-driven media buying service that uses software (not humans) to improve pay-for-performance media and reduce wasted spend. And here’s what that really means to the layperson like you and me.

In the old days, we used to:

  1. Buy annual media contracts with entire sites and networks that lock you in for the year
  2. Base our investment decisions on inaccurate reporting (media bias, self-reported or ATS encoded)
  3. Optimize once a year, consisting of turning the whole ad buys on or off

The struggle is real. Anyone going through annual media planning knows what I mean. We agonize over which sites and networks to lock in, looking at metrics that can’t be trusted. Then we buy an annual contract, and our hiring needs change (like a hiring freeze or emergency ramp up) and we’re stuck with that contact that may or may not best support those changing priorities.

We knew there must be a better way. Now Magellan only buys impressions likely to result in applies and only sponsor jobs that need applies. We shift our budget as we go based on job needs and run our jobs only on the best-performing sites — without any contracts.

Programmatic job ads offer a lot of benefits, but there is one that seems to have the most value, and it deals with the point of diminishing returns.

If you knew that it only took your organization 50 applications to generate a hire, would you want to pay for 100 apps for that job? Of course not. Programmatic allows you to shut your jobs off from sponsorship as soon as the desired number of applicants have applied, allowing you to redirect your budget to jobs that are still in need of more applies.

Let me show you what I mean:

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 9.26.07 AM.png

On the left you can see how you are paying for more applicants than a job needs to generate a hire, and there are a handful of jobs that could really use an extra push to get more app flow. On the right, you can see how the same budget is spent to allow for a evener distribution of applications.

Recruitment advertising has always had a problem: a small percentage of jobs outperform those harder-to-fill jobs and eat up time and money. This is wasteful, both from an investment and time standpoint.

Programmatic allows you to stop burning your money by customizing settings based on what kind of outcomes you want. This has been the biggest benefit and innovation that programmatic has brought to recruitment advertising.

Here’s how it works, with examples:

Step 1: Set your caps at the job level

35 applications or $120, whichever happens first

Step 2: Create an IF/THEN rule

IF this job does not have six applications in the first two days, THEN advertise

Step 3: Automate which jobs get advertised

Advertise all jobs with “Care Manager” in the job title BUT NOT “Care Coordinator”

Target jobs in Dallas and Phoenix with $$$ budget, and Denver and Chicago with $ budget

What was the ROI / impact of your solution?

Within six months of running programmatic campaigns at Magellan Health, we saw a steady increase in applications in our hard to fill categories, discovered new sites with qualified applicants; and decreased our overall cost per application by 67%.

Craving even more info on programmatic for recruitment? Check out this webinar recording for more how-to, results, and benefits!

What was your biggest learning?

Programmatic job ads offer a lot of benefits, but there is one that seems to have the most value, and it deals with the point of diminishing returns.

What was your biggest mistake? #Doh

Trying to determine campaign rules and optimization on my own with my agency team.

Bringing in the team who are recruiting the roles you are sponsoring is key - they have to be part of your op mechanisms to make an impact. 

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