The rise and fall of Indeed’s CPA job posting p…Entry Level Jobs | Internships for Students

Employers and others who advertise job openings on a performance-basis will know that the recruitment advertising is full of jargon, similar phrases that sometimes mean the same thing and sometimes don’t, and acronyms that sometimes make sense and sometimes don’t. To help ensure that we’re on the same page, pay-per-click (PPC) is the same as cost-per-click (CPC). Similarly, pay-per-application (PPA) is the same as cost-per-application (CPA). Also, many would argue that pay-per-started application (PPSA), a product offered by Indeed, is the same as PPC or CPC.

Indeed’s transition from a CPC to a CPA and PPSA pricing model has been a major shift in its approach to job advertising. They announced the change in late 2022, rolled it out in early 2023, backtracked some almost right away, and announced a couple of days ago that they’re killing the CPA pricing option effective December 18th. Yes, that’s right: as of December 18th you will no longer be able to pay Indeed on a CPA basis for job postings, even if you’ve been very, very happy with the product.

The previous CPC model at Indeed charged employers whenever a jobseeker clicked on a sponsored job listing. This model, while being the standard for some time, often resulted in charges for clicks that did not necessarily lead to job applications. To address this, Indeed introduced the CPA and PPSA models.

The CPA model applies to jobs fully hosted on Indeed, meaning that the candidate applies by completing a form hosted by Indeed. It also applies to jobs opted into Indeed Apply, meaning that the employer has installed a tracking pixel or has some other mechanism in place that automatically and instantly detects that a candidate has come to the employer’s site, applied to a job, and notifies Indeed of that application. Either way, employers pay only when a candidate submits a completed application through Indeed.

The PPSA model is for jobs where the candidate sees the posting on Indeed, goes to the employer’s site to apply, but the employer does not have an integration in place with Indeed to tell it instantly and automatically that the candidate has applied. What the employer is paying for under PPSA is not an application as there’s no way for Indeed to know the candidate applied. Instead, the employer is paying when the candidate clicks to the employer’s site, whether or not the candidate applies. Regardless of the option, these models aim to ensure that employers pay for more meaningful interactions, specifically those that indicate a higher intent to apply.

Pricing under the new models varies based on several factors such as job location, title, and the number of available job seekers in the market. This means that the cost per application can fluctuate based on market dynamics and competition among employers. For example, a role in a competitive market like New York City might command a higher price per application compared to a less competitive market.

Furthermore, Indeed has integrated screener questions, often called “deal breakers,” into the application process. These questions are meant to vet if an applicant meets the job criteria, allowing companies to pay only for valid applications. If an application does not meet the set criteria, employers can reject it within a 72-hour window without incurring a charge. Note that Indeed really does mean 72-hours and not three business or even calendar days. If a candidate applies at 4pm on Friday, you have until 4pm on Monday to notify Indeed that the candidate did not meet the set qualifications, even if Monday is a holiday. So, if your “deal breaker” question requires the candidate to be local and they’re overseas, you don’t have to pay for the application or started application…if you notify Indeed within the 72-hours.

This shift towards CPA and PPSA models were part of Indeed’s broader strategy to evolve into a more comprehensive, all-in-one hiring platform. The new pricing models were intended to provide better value to employers by focusing on quality applicants and accelerating the hiring process. Does Indeed’s announcement a couple of days ago that it was killing its CPA product mean that it isn’t interested in becoming more of a comprehensive, all-in-one hiring platform? Hardly. Does it mean that it isn’t focused on providing better value? Also hardly. Both remain true, but also true is that Indeed has chosen to eliminate one of its products that it created to help it reach those worthy objectives.

The feedback from recruiters who have been part of the early rollout of these models was generally positive, but with a substantially large enough minority who were negative to create enough problems for Indeed that it decided that it was better off killing its CPA product than continuing to offer it. The positive customers reported cost savings and a more streamlined process for handling applications, emphasizing the efficiency of paying for actual candidates rather than just for visibility to potential applicants. The negative customers, which won the day, found the product too confusing to use.

Regardless of why Indeed created the CPA and PPSA products, whether Indeed was right to kill the products, or anything else in between, there’s little doubt that many employment advertisers liked buying on a CPA basis. And those advertisers are now left deciding whether to buy instead from Indeed on a PPSA or even CPC basis or whether to look for alternatives, perhaps from other job boards. If you’re looking for alternatives, consider College Recruiter. We sell postings on a traditional, duration-basis such as X postings for $Y; CPC; and CPA. Oh, and we don’t have a PPSA product as we call that CPC. If the candidate clicks to your site, we consider that a click, not a “started apply”. Yes, they’re six of one and half dozen of another, but we feel that CPC is less confusing to most buyers.

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