The Aggregator

Aggregators, or vertical search engines (old school name!!), have been around since the early days of the internet job boards but both have enjoyed an uneasy relationship: one supplies jobs whilst the other traffic BUT both, of course, want the job seeker to come to them first.

The “traditional” aggregator takes a feed of jobs from job boards and then resells traffic to the boards BUT some aggregators will, to build job volume, also scrap/spider other sources of content, i.e. recruitment consultancy and direct employer sites, or take a feed from the ATS.

Of course therein lays an issue, the ability to resist the temptation to monetize the traffic that they generate for these jobs. Many aggregators cannot resist this revenue opportunity and therefore end up competing with their original customers, the job boards.

The earliest aggregator I can remember is Wetfeet. It was founded in the U.S and was acquired by in early 2000.In Europe we saw sites such as Keljob in France and 1job in the UK launch in the early 2000s. Both were subsequently acquired by larger publishing groups and, in the case of Keljob, it could not resist the temptation the go after the “direct market”.

Over the last 6 years we have seen and explosion of aggregators, with Indeed and Simplyjobs almost leading the revival circa 2006. In every market in the world where we find job boards you will find aggregators.

So what are the key trends in our industry relating to aggregators?

  • 66% of UK job boards are currently using aggregators and 93% plan to continue to use them in 2014. The UK leads the world in terms of usage.
  • In the US and the Rest of the World 63% of job boards are currently using aggregators, and 81% plan to use aggregators in the future.
  • Across the globe 70% of job boards use aggregators.
  • The UK uses aggregators more for PPC whereas in the US it is for Organic Job Listings.
  • In the UK and Europe there is a 50/50 split of job boards who monitor conversions of aggregator traffic into job applications; in the US and ROW it drops to 30%.
  • In the UK aggregators, and Indeed specifically, were also identified as “threats to by business”, by 21% in the case of Indeed and 17% in the case of aggregators. In the US both figures are higher with 28% seeing Indeed as a threat and 26.7% seeing aggregators generally as a threat.

All the above data come from the Job Board Doctor Job Board Survey 2013.

There are some obvious contradictions in some of the results; job boards plan to use or increase their use of aggregators BUT equally job boards fear them at the same time. I discussed this issue with Doug Monro, co founder of fast growing and new generation aggregator Adzuna.

Doug admits that he can understand the concerns and concedes that “some aggregators appear to have used job boards to build their business and then gone for that “new” revenue opportunity” but he is clear that “at Adzuna, the job boards are our customers and we focus on delivering what they want and expect: traffic”.  He goes on the make two great observations “firstly, we would never want to build they type of sales and marketing infrastructure that a job board has to, so we “outsource” that area to the job board BUT secondly, not every job board has the SEO/SEM skills we have and therefore we are their “outsourced partner” – I must confess I like and get this approach.

So what next for aggregators? Well, leading up to the European Job Board Summit 2014 I’ll being talking to the founders of some of the world’s leading aggregators and getting their opinions.

You can share your views at @jobg8 on Twitter.

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, co-produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on strategy, NPD, marketing and NBD across Europe.

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