Is Google planning GoogleJobs?

08 Jul 2016

The following report was distributed recently in Classified Intelligence Report to AIM Group clients. It is presented here on an “open to all” basis. To learn more about Classified Intelligence Report, click here. 

By BRIAN BLUM

“Google is planning to start its own job board.” That’s what we keep hearing. But no one has details, no one is willing to talk on- or even off-the-record, and Google itself isn’t saying a word.

We’ve heard chatter about the Google job board for about three months now — at a meeting of The Network global recruitment alliance in Warsaw in April, at RecTech in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, and at lots of places in between.

Even though we can’t confirm it, the reports got us wondering: What would a Google job board look like and how would it impact the recruitment classified business?

No one’s sure. Views are mixed. We asked a number of classified executives for their thoughts.

David González Castro, founder of Latin American internet company Red Arbor, told us the threat of a Google job board would “depend on what they want to do with it. If they want to become an aggregator like Indeed, the risk would be low. If they go deep as a [full-fledged] job board, that would have a high impact.”

Przemek Gacek, whose Grupa Pracuj operates job boards in Poland and Ukraine, had just the opposite view: Google as an aggregator would definitely impact his business as well as other job sites which rely on Google as a main source of traffic. “We would certainly not allow Google to scrape jobs from our site,” he told the AIM Group.

That said, even though “Google would become part of our competitive landscape … we would try to maintain some cooperation on the traffic level,” Gacek added.

Terry Baker, CEO of job board network RealMatch, which runs paid search campaigns on Google, said he would welcome a Google entry. “We assume Google would make it easier to buy and bid on employment ads.” Baker also believes Google would “crush Indeed, [which] discriminates against job boards, [whereas] Google would be agnostic.”

A spokesperson for Monster Worldwide took an upbeat approach as well. “Employers and individuals will always benefit from additional help in connecting people with job opportunities and we encourage that activity.”

Henrik Christensen, COO of the JobIndex search site in Denmark, suggested a Google job board would “most likely drive down prices and accelerate the move to pay-per-click.”

Christensen added that JobIndex had listed a Google job board as “a possible threat” as far back as its 2007 IPO prospectus, but hadn’t heard anything since then.

Differentiation will become key for smaller and regional job sites to survive in a Google job board world. Yusuf Azoz, CEO of Kariyer.net in Turkey, is confident that because his site features an applicant tracking system it offers more than what he envisions Google would do, which “will not be much different than what the aggregators provide.”

Having local staff on the ground is also critical, several people told us. Gonzáles said job boards are among the most complex models in the classified ad business and “would not be easy to manage at a local level by a huge company like Google.”

“Google will need a significantly sized sales team in the field in order to reach employers and get their postings,” Azoz added.

Jerome Armbruster, CEO of RegionsJob in France, agreed. “I don’t believe that Google will one day have teams all over France providing counseling services to local recruiters,” which is a big part of what RegionsJob does, he said. Armbruster suggested Google could go in one of two directions: either become “a meta-traffic supplier above everybody [or] a metasearch engine in competition with Indeed. “The first case would hardly have any impact on our business [while] the second case would rather weaken the competing metasearch engines,” Armbruster said.

If Google does do something with jobs, it won’t be the first time the company has dipped its toe into the classified waters.

The 2004 launch of Google Base was seen as a Google response to Craigslist. Google Base allowed users to upload text, images and structured formats such as XML, PDF and RTF, emphasizing “classified-like listings of items for sale.” (The AIM Group broke the news of Google Base in 2004, and the story was picked up by The Wall Street Journal and many other media.) Craig Donato, who was then CEO of classified aggregator Oodle.com, saw Google Base as a threat. By “acting as a classified publisher, [Google was] stepping over the line,” he told The Journal. (Donato is now VP of bizdev at NextDoor.com.)

Google Base was replaced in 2010 by Google Merchant Center, which Google described as “a better, optimized experience specifically for product listings.” (It’s still around.)

Google went even further in 2009, experimenting with real estate classifieds in Australia, adding listings directly into Google Maps. By entering the name of a city or neighborhood and the words “real estate,” specific properties for sale displayed on the map. A click on a listing called up more detailed information including the agent’s contact details.

Search Engine Land website reported Google’s move sent Australian real estate classified publishers into a panic, with at least one stating it had “decided against giving its listings to Google” in order not to “create a competitor with the pedigree of Google.” The real estate listings experiment never progressed beyond Australia and was shut down within a couple of years. Google also launched several classified sites in various African countries, only to close them after they failed to catch on.

Is Google getting ready to try again, this time with jobs? In our last Classified Intelligence Report, we suggested one possible outcome of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn was an integration of LinkedIn job posts on the Bing search engine. Although that’s just one possibility, it could make sense if Google launches its own job board. And Indeed is a powerhouse global job aggregator, offering a tempting target for Google — although, of course, Indeed generates much of its traffic through ads placed on Google).

Armbruster, of RegionsJob in France, said a Google job board might not be an end as much as a means and that Google could use whatever flavor job classified offering it decided on mainly “to provide better targeting capabilities for its advertising clients.”

González concurred, saying a Google job initiative could be a powerful way of increasing Google’s overall advertising effectiveness. “Google has seen that the candidate databases of job boards offer a high value in profiling millions of people around the world,” he said.

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Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.