Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine

You cant beat a bit of Cliff

After nearly 3 years of OME - i have learnt the pitfalls of not switching off and taking a break (ever...) - so just quick note to say i will not be blogging , twittering, posting on forums and indeed doing any proper work now until January - i hope everyone has a lovely Xmas.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Thanks Mum

Clearly her sophisticated online ballot box stuffing has secured her youngest (and best) son's nomination for this Best 2008 Recruitment Blog Awards. Please feel free to vote for me or indeed anyone else if you are so minded.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Entrepreneurs and Start Ups

Saw the excellent people from BraveNewTalent to hear more about their new venture. Without going into specifics of their offering which is a kind of cross between Linkedin and Facebook for the Grad market - i have come to realise that start ups matter less in terms of the quality of the idea - it is all about the people, their passion and execution. After all the idea and product can quickly be modified if there are flaws - but the core of a company and its offering are the people behind it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Monster Re-Launch

This post is an admission that i am not going to get round to blogging in full on Monster's relaunch - a presentation of which i attended on Monday. But briefly - its a big step on road to interactivity. adding value to the job board offering, making users much easier to target with relevant content. So well done to them for investing and improving in today's climate and trying to change the competitive field from marketing to technology/search/content.

The long term benefits of this will become clearer over time but the initial and clearest short term benefit will come from changing the very clunky back office to something that will much more user (client=user) friendly. Monster's back office is a pain and the data entry and ad optimisation team here really hate it and i am sure this view must be echoed across all clients. and impact negatively on data quality and ad response.
interestingly i scanned the room i was in (largely ad agency people in audience) and thought probably only about 10% of this room have ever been in Monster's back office and so have no idea of the significance of this part of the relaunch - but our clients will probably get more out of this than the sexier stuff in the pres.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Easy Media Planning and Buying

Going through 2 separate media reviews at moment - trying to get all closed up and agreed before next week and i must say with both it is a pleasure - why?
  • We are doing the review based not on media owner stats, not on clicks and not on applications but on hires! ie cost per hire by job by media and all cross referencable (is that a word?)
  • We are not looking at this stuff in isolation - its clearly a retrospective metric that has a lot of variables in it - need to base stuff on what is likely to be results and/or needs next year too
  • Both clients agree that though budgets are tight - we need to continue to push things a little further in exploring new routes so have allocated a budget accordingly

Now it would be easy to pretend that everyone is at this point but that is not the case - most of the work that enabled this to happen occurred in 2007 - and there is an awful lot of unglamorous grunt work involved in proper tagging and tracking both from client side and us - but the benefits are enormous - primarily the ability to show the reduction in cost per hire, the efficiency of the process and the real time visibility of the numbers.

Hang on - i think i have to shroud what we do in complex web talk otherwise anyone will think they can do it - and we cant have that can we!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

2008 - what a year!

I have never experienced a more "interesting" year (both good and bad) in my business career as this year. I will try and get some more formal comments on what i think have been the key trends this year and what i think will happen next year over next couple of weeks - hope to have a bit of time as it is definitely getting a wee bit quieter out there.
Overall - it feels like 2008 was the year that online became a core (probably "the core") element of a companies recruiting and employee engagement strategy. The level of complexity and sophistication in our client discussions has moved on more this year than the previous 2 years combined. That shows itself in spend and breadth of techniques adopted (SEM, Business networks, social networks etc) but most importantly - quantifiable tangible and documented results which show the great improvement in ROI - effective online recruitment/engagement gets companies.
Anecdotally - most of us who have been doing this a long time agree that these days you don't have to sell the concept anymore - it really is about the right product and brilliant execution. In that sense - The West has been Won.
However - when a great big hulking macro economic trend comes into play - recruitment can simply stop and no amount of cleverness and expertise can always get round that objection.
I am in the camp, however, that though fist half 2009 will be v tough - those efficient value led companies (like OME!!) will benefit hugely as the downturn lessens.

Friday, 21 November 2008


Been having some interesting conversations with the team at Linkedin in last few weeks and getting some corporate contracts arranged for our larger clients. I have to declare an interest here - I absolutely LOVE this product.
The growth in users is phenomenal (1 million more every 15-16 days globally) - the profile of the users amazing (avg UK salary £62,000 which used to be higher than global avg but is now lower - following sterling dropping like a stone) and usability simple.
We have undoubtedly seen improved results in some targeted campaigns we are running in last 6 months - but i cannot profess to know where Linkedin will end up in the recruiting/employer brand piece - will it be a market dominant place for senior executive networking/communicating/advertising or a big fat senior CV database. Gross oversimplification i know but both are sort of possible.
Next 2 years will be fascinating.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Debate on Social Networks - Facebook - Metrics etc

I have waded in to an interesting debate here on Digital Recruiting blog - some well argued stuff. I cant help thinking we are all right in our own ways but thats not a very interesting thing to say - so in fact i am 100% right and they are all misguided!!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Impact Of Jobsite TV Campaign

Had the first feedback as to impact on the Jobsite splurge on TV advertising (and other media)

Application levels have increased 27%.(October vs September)

New registrations ( only) have increased 48% (Oct vs Sep).

Searchable CVs are up to 679,000 - with new CVs up over 100% (Oct vs Sep)

It is important to note when discussing media stats that i actually trust these numbers - i can't quite work out whether i expected the figures to be even higher - it was a very big impact campaign.

TV advertising tends to be brand building led rather than direct response but this does show you that the connection can be made between TV ad and searches/registrations (or did they just up the SEM spend accordingly at same time!)
I think the benefits will accrue over a long long period of time and that Jobsite previously probably the lowest profile of the general job boards amongst UK populace will no longer occupy that slot and that this definitely will result in improved long term traffic stats.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

State of the OME "Nation"

OK - so here is the broad economic news from a young, growing but still relatively small player in the UK recruitment advertising marketplace - has recession grabbed us, are we sailing serenely onwards - can you read anything in to our performance to indicate wider trends - see below
  • We are doing OK in terms of monthly revenues and still growing. July 2008 was our biggest ever month - followed by October 2008. (we launched in May 2006)
  • 90% of our clients are still actively recruiting - with a couple of organisations that have a freeze or as near as damnit. Fortunately for us we did not have much exposure to Finance/Financial Services
  • This recruitment activity tends to be normal stuff rather than big projects - huge store opening programmes etc.
  • New business has driven our year rather than our existing clients' growth. We have had a great year in this respect - i think worth looking at why for a second
  1. We are a young dynamic business - we bloody should be successful in new business - its not a very exciting (or rewarding) place to be if not
  2. We have focused very hard at it as we are concerned about the wider picture and we have invested heavily in staff this year - so we need to make sure they have some work to do!
  3. But i think fascinatingly - OME/online recruitment represents a cost saving approach to recruitment. yes we are innovative and quality should be high - but ultimately we save clients money and reduce cost per hire. This downturn is undoubtedly driving people online although it may not feel like it for a bit. The most positive thing about this year - is i am utterly convinced about this point. Anecdotally - 50% of the new client meetings we attend tends to feature a version of the HR mgmt telling us how much was spent on recruitment last year (including all rec con/agency fees) - and the mission is simple - helps us dramatically reduce this figure.
  • Most of our billings are based around core products of Job Board Media, SEM, Campaign Mgmt, Consultancy fees (including Technical). The more esoteric cutting edge stuff has sat out there unsigned off - and i kind of agree with those decisions if budgets are limited.

So not sure it tells anyone quite what is going on out there - but for us its OK - but would like it a bit better please!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Innovation vs Effectiveness

This is the theme of about 80% of the meetings and projects we have conducted in last 3 months.(and the last 3 months has seen much more of an emphasis on effectiveness rather than innovation). And the skill with us is how to communicate effectively to a client that a social networking programme is a really cool thing to do but how about getting their job board strategy, SEM programme, response management and careers site sorted as a first priority. And if i have a frustration, it is some of the nonsense that we in the industry talk about when we are dealing with clients seeking to reduce their cost per hire and improve recruitment and staff retention strategies.

Talking about Second Life and Twitter to clients makes us look knowledgable and clever but does not help most clients one iota (particularly at present).

And Yes - the best online campaigns and techniques can be both innovative and effective.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Broadbean acquired by owners of Jobsite

quite an interesting one this - if only for the fact that any company is acquiring anything at moment
what does the acquisition mean?
  • not quite sure what AND's motivations are - Conkers is also owned by them. I guess its going up the supply chain/value chain - like a brewery buying pubs or possibly a fleet of beer delivery lorries to stretch the analogy perhaps a little too far. Still its a little different from their acquisition history of strong vertical job boards.
  • One does not have to question Broadbean's motivation - and well done to those involved
  • AND have an excellent history of buying companies (Jobsite, Jobs Group, InRetail etc) and allowing the management to grow and develop their business without unhelpful intervention. So Dan's open letter (see above) should be taken at face value i think.
  • Will the other major jobboard owners have a problem with this acquisition (their supply lines being owned by a competitor) - and come off the Broadbean feeds. Can't see that happening in a million years - the client is king and Broadbean's client volumes are pretty substantial to forming a job boards marketplace. But lets see.
  • I would be fascinated to know how they valued this business - there is an argument that the product and the whole job posting technology industry is a commodity that could be replaced in the future - but to be fair it is priced so reasonably that there is no great desire from clients to seek any alternative solution.

In summary - Broadbean is a great business - nicely profitable, low overheads, loyal customer base, limited competition but not quite sure how it fits into AND/Jobsite's product set. But that's not the worse problem to have.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Everyone "Gets" Online Recruitment

I have just finished running a hugely well attended seminar programme in conjunction with Telegraph and Google and it has confirmed my thoughts that a wind of change has swept through this industry in 2008. The level of knowledge and adoption of successful online recruiting techniques has changed massively this year amongst clients and it is incredibly exciting and enjoyable to be having a different sort of conversation.
Believe me i have no problem whatsoever with starting with basic job posting on job boards and in many ways its the lifeblood of OME and a well constructed optimised job posting is a thing of rare beauty (just me in the whole world who thinks that isn't it.??....) - But with our longer established clients we tend to run much more integrated candidate attraction campaigns and our new clients tend to start at a more advanced level.
So i left the seminar venue absolutely buzzing - read the business press on the way to another meeting - and a "pass the revolver, I'm going into the library" feeling enveloped me. Oh well - capitalism was fun while it lasted.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Bitching About Awards

Quite enjoying the debate on UK recruiter discussion board about the integrity of the NORA awards - basically saying its all a fix etc etc. I have attended many awards functions and even organised a few. These are my fundamental truths about these events
  • They are in no way a reflection of the best work done in (fill in category) and in fact the winning piece of work/company was crap because of xxx. That is unless you win - in which case they are just recognition for the brilliant work done by the team involved and another sign of your market leading position.
  • If you suspect they are a fix - and that if you advertise in the organisers products and even better sponsor an award that you hugely improve your chances - you are probably correct.
  • If you suspect that there is something fishy about the fact that every year amazingly the awards seem to be handed out in a way that most of the big players in industry (see advertisers/sponsors point above) - seem to win at least one each and don't get too offended - your suspicions are probably correct
  • If you suspect that the extremely long "short" lists for nominations may be connected to a desire to sell as many tables as possible to those companies dreaming of glory - you would definitely be correct.
  • Do people say these same things even if they work in online recruitment, TV, double glazing or poetry - yes they do.

And finally - if you are nominated and you find yourself sitting at a table nearer the loos than the stage (meaning a 10 minute journey to stage)- then you can probably save your speech for next year.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Impact on Press to Online Migration of a Downturn

Not a snappy heading is it? but here are a couple of slides that show the impact on the most mature online recruitment market (I.T.) - and maybe there are some lessons to be learnt for general market innext few years. The commentary is that as IT sites like Jobserve, Jobsite grew in late 90s - the press market grew simultaneously riding the IT boom.

Cue 2000-2001 post dot com crash, post Y2K, post establishment of Euro and 9/11. We saw slowing in growth in online and a complete car crash in press advertising. And when the market picked up again.... advertisers had looked at ROI, cost per response, were leaner with their ad budgets and we saw "hockey stick" growth in online and nothing at all in press. This will not be of great cheer to executives like Sly Bailey who claimed recently that downturn was cyclical - by the way how in 2008 can a CEO of a big publicly listed media company say that and not be laughed off stage by city analysts.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Why did JobJourney Fail?

OK - need to say the following things before giving my opinion

  • i have utmost respect for Totaljobs management and the way they have launched successful verticals/niche sites (retailchoice CWjobs etc)while continuing to grow the core product
  • The people i knew who were involved in it were also top drawer
  • its easy to sit on the sidelines and comment - doing it is much tougher

I also have no inside knowledge of the actual figures but take a wild leap of logic and assume it was not making a profit and presumably was showing very little sign that it would produce the requisite margin for the company going forward.

So my view is

1. Never liked the JobJourneyNorthWest geographical position. If its a local site then it needs to be local and most recruitment is city/county based. The region stretched from Cheshire to Cumbria and was up against strong Manchester, Liverpool, Preston competition. A North West job board had the feel of something invented from London. (to me anyway)

2. Connected to the point above - but Manchester has just about become the most competitive territory in online this year and this amount of competition affects yields and client retention rate as people go from one trail to another to another.

3. What does a network of local sites add up to? Answer: A big national site like.......TotalJobs. And what tends to happen in many companies is that someone from the outside (or inside) looks at the numbers and thinks - Blimey we are having to put this amount of resource and effort in to make not a lot of money - what would be the result of diverting all (or some of) this resource to our successful highly profitable national Job Board? Coincidentally there are now TotalJobs sales staff in all key regions which i guess made the situation even more striking.

4. its the economy stupid - lets not be naive - its tough out there - and launching a site is twice as hard in these delicate economic conditions. Patience and long term investment can be thin on the ground in harsher economic times.

5. RBI sell off - i believe that as the company is made ready for sell off that they have conducted a purge of products that do not minimum contribution levels. Not sure about this point - it made be a convenient excuse as if a product showed enough profit potential - it would add value to any acquisition.

Anyway - it did not work out - no shame in that and i applaud their efforts.

Good Luck to all involved in the future.

Monday, 8 September 2008

JobJourney No More

Sad news that jobjourney has been closed by RBI in both North West and Scotland. I will analyse this further but feel that is inappropriate today as my first thoughts are for the hard working people who - though i am sure RBI will make every effort to re-allocate - may end up out of work.
Best wishes to all concerned.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Big Up to Jobsite

Jobsite launched their £15m TV ad campaign yesterday in swanky Charlotte St Hotel - as my colleagues were sipping champagne and hearing the glossy presentation i was reading Chicken Licken and Hansel and Gretel to my own rather demanding audience. Its easy to carp about the effectiveness of a big TV ad campaign and whether £15 million as a budget was arrived at by multiplying everything by 2.5 and adding the first number you thought of at the end but its a great sign to the UK that online recruitment is a complete solution to people irrespective of age, class, colour or creed and i think helps us all when we are out their evangelising to the HR community. Need to mention the fact that Monster have been doing TV too but this step is really significant and may see others get their marketing cheque books out again.
As an aside - the ads star Max Beesly who speaking personally annoys me intensely - but women and people from the north (and probably everyone other than me) may disagree.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

Its not happened in ages but its an online recruitment classic. We got given the go ahead on a small project for a client. And out of their inventory of current job requirements we got given two absolute uber niche specialist roles to go online with that have been unfilled for 6 months), rather than their main more normal generic jobs which make up the bulk of their needs. Its where straight talking has to come in - as otherwise you end up in a few weeks after lots of hard work with disappointment and disillusionment and the potenetial to stall online migration as senior decision makers still "not sure" it works.
Digital recruitment is brilliant - but as the saying goes there is no point putting lipstick on a pig or indeed buffing a turd.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Brand Republic Blog

So BrandRepublic approached me about doing a blog on their site which you can find here. As most of the Brand audience do proper advertising and look down their noses at us in Jobs - i will clearly have to brush on my Web 2.0 terminology - and where as i normally talk about metrics like cost per click, cost per hire, response per advert and drop off rates on career sites. I now shall have to litter my posts with the long tail, webinars, avatars, Linden dollars and the impact of the I-Phone.
Or maybe not.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Translating Guardian Press Release on Rate Increases

I just received this Press Release

"From August 18 2008, the recruitment and courses print advertising rates for Guardian Jobs will be increasing in line with salary inflation. In real terms this means most of our print rates are staying the same. Some of our online advertising rates are also changing but we are offering you more value than ever:"

A couple of comments
- the rates are going up 3.5% - they are not staying the same. To use the phrase "in real terms" reminds me of a trade union negotiating a deal for its workers
- That bit is probably inserted as the author is struggling with the audacity/cheek of putting ones press rates up - when the print market is disintegrating - or soon will be - in its core markets
- "some of our online rates are also changing..." i am going to make a huge leap of logic and presume they mean by changing - they actually wanted to use the not often heard word "increasing". They may have covered themselves by reducing a keyword banner on Cornwall Jobs or something equally popular.

I love the Guardian and the people we deal with and have no problem necessarily with them increasing rates - but plainspeaking please....

Innovation vs Effectiveness - or have we disappeared up our...

OK - back to a familiar topic. And its the differential between

1. us in the "industry"- who get a bit bored by discussing and improving basic functionality on company's careers sites and find job postings on Job boards to be frankly dull. What we really want to talk about is Social Media, Geo-Targetting, Mobile Messaging and whatever the latest fad is.

2. and the "real people" out there - HR/Recruiters. Who are under pressure to improve efficiency, reduce cost per hire, improve employer brand etc

So we saw an unnamed client (large UK PLC) last week - who had taken meetings with a couple of other rec ad agencies, online specialists. And their head had been filled with lots of talk of Facebook, SMS, Twitter (NB 1st time a client has mentioned this in meeting - so interesting) and yet and yet....

In order their priorities should be

1. Their careers site search does not work in any logical way and must lose candidates who are unfortunate enough to go in it at front end - it is a block on recruitment not an aid.

2. they were on Job boards (not Google though) but in certain cases the wrong ones and in all cases with very poor copy and with the wrong and ineffective inventory. This can be fixed incredibly quickly and with immediate excellent results.

3. A mini audit of the web - finds there are a bunch of dead links for this company out there - old logos pointing to old micro sites and other destinations

I asked their permission if i could blog about this anonymously as it so annoyed me that others who do know their stuff had focussed on the sexy not the serious, the fluff not the core, the sizzle not the steak (enough analogies Dom....)

we are very keen to criticise the laggards in the rec ad industry but spending clients budgets on areas that do not deliver the tangible demonstrable ROI results can in fact cause more damage. I sometimes think think that we recommend this sort of innovative stuff to make us the suppliers feel cool not for the benefit of the customer.

Monday, 4 August 2008

What is going on with recruitment economy

i have to admit i no longer have a clue quite what is going on - in the macro world - we are confronted with a media bombardment of bad news and scare stories - share price depression and poor financials from banks, media groups etc. and micro world
  • i dont know anyone personally who has been laid off due to economic factors
  • OME has just had by far its best month ever (July 2008)
  • Virtually all organisations are still recruiting in some form

So for the present i am going to continue to buy my Starbucks every morning and leave the jar ot Mellow Birds at the back of cupboard for when times are really tough....

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hard Times for Media Companies in the City

OK not picking on Trinity Mirror but examine following facts.

they own
  • 5 national newspapers - including Daily Mirror, Daily Record
  • 15o regional newspapers including traditional cash cows such as WesternMail, Liverpool Echo and Birmingham Post
  • 200 local press websites
  • And their acquired online portfolio - including Hot Group/Workthing bought for £55m, Email4property, Gaapweb, SecsintheCity, TotallyLegal/TotallyFinancial amd 33% stakeholders in fish4.

And their market capitalisation yesterday was £134m


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Google Bio

Its not new but i picked up an old book on creation and growth of Google - just amazing and inspiring - the most brilliant thing about it - was that it was very late in the growth of the company that they even considered how are we actually going to make this a profitable company - amazingly everyone (microsoft, yahoo etc) thought there was no money on free search!!!

They created a great product first and then the dollars came later, multo multo dollars

cynic, heal thyself

Having a chat about online recruitment in the car on saturday (as you do...) - and i have finally worked out why i am such a curmudgeon about many innovations in online media - and it is essentially that i am personally not into the gadgets and the fads - so i tend to think exclusively in the realms of how this may work practically and even then how it can be used for clients to recruit and brand themselves. Which is a pretty non creative, non blue sky thinking (dare i say dull) appraoch to life. But its been the same personally with mobile phones, PDAs, Laptops etc. I am personnally just not that excited about the iPhone.
So professionally while i think it enables me to see a products application and translate that into the business world and not to fritter a clients precious budget - it does mean i have to force myslef to be persuaded of the possibilities and to open my mind. (at least once a year anyway)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Print Revenue Decline

I was planning to write a long post on the awful results being posted bythe publishing groups Trinity Mirror, Johnson Press et al. Print revenues being hammered - stupid statements from exceedingly well paid chief execs stating thats the problems are about the economy and its cyclical. But come on - the debate has been over for a long time now hasn't it (and yes i know i am talking here to a very small group of recruitment cognoscenti).
Print is great - i love newspapers - but they will not run any recruitment ads within 5-10 years. End of.

Just a personal note - i have been wanting to use the word cognoscenti in an article for ages. lovely!

Succumbed to Twitter

So it comes to us all that you can only sit on the edge of the playground looking on for so long when actually you really want to join the game. I can close my ears to the evangelists like Paul and Matt for so long but when i see a fellow miserable heretic like Alastair joining in, then i know the time has come to Tweet away.

Come and join us - you know you want to...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Its a classic but still annoying

Did some work for a small client - demonstrating what we do, how we would do it and the results they would receive. I then spy this morning that they have taken all our advice and decided to try and do it themselves to avoid paying our "very reasonable" fees. Its pathetic really and i am not going to let it damage my general optimistic view of people's intentions, but i hope they really enjoy the saving of a few hundred quid by tucking us up. Anyway, lets move on....

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Digital Recruitment Seminars - pain or pleasure...

I have spoken at and organised and attended a lot of seminars on topic of digital recruitment and to be honest i have never been wholly happy with the content of what was delivered, normally for following reasons
  • quality of speakers (apart from me that is!)
  • Case studies which are merely excuses for a company to tell us how great they are - and as you sit there you wonder "did it really happen like that?... probably not"
  • Content that tells me nothing new (that could be more my fault than the conference i know)
  • too long - i have realised that my concentration span is never going to get past its current status of about 42 seconds. So the longest i can physically spend in a hot dungeon of a conf room is 2 hours max

I dont mean to be too critical as they are bloody hard to get right.

Anyway - we have a chance to change all that or die trying as we are launching, alongside the Telegraph, a series of digital seminars for HR managers / Recruiters in September/October that will be concise, witty, info packed and beautifully formed. Will update with more info in next week or so.

Friday, 30 May 2008

HCareers in the UK down but not out....

After five years in the UK market,, the global hospitality niche recruitment site has decided to merge all operations to their North American HQ. A good source tells me that the last six months have financially been some of the healthiest Hcareers have ever experienced here, however the “cut throat” UK market has made profitably operating in the UK tough, therefore they will now be operating the UK site from North America .

  1. is it possible to service customer accounts from offshore (8 hours behind) via helpdesk?
  2. is UK market so different that lack of local knowledge will be a massive hindrance?
  3. is it possible to sell to customers in an incredibly competitive market a not massively well established site from offshore?
  4. is "merging operations" just a euphemism for running the site down to closure at the end of customer contracts? (bit like Northern Rock!)
  1. probably - most sites do not receive a huge amount of incoming queries and as long as you are efficient - its possible
  2. not really - difference schmifference - the UK is not so unique - same principles still apply
  3. virtually impossible
  4. almost certainly

Friday, 23 May 2008

Things I Have Learnt - Part 2

  • You have to, have to enjoy what you do. You are committing mentally and physically to your biz. Smiling and laughing are pretty much compulsory. And yes - unless you are very lucky there will be some dark days when you doubt yourself but accept these are going to happen and move on.
  • Be prepared to be wrong. I have pontificated on most topics associated with online over last 2 years and some of my positions have changed completely in that time. I am currently passionate that Twitter is a load of old tosh but its not a science - its just an educated opinion based on my view of the future. Hey - guess what i might be completely wrong and my answer to that is - so what! Our clients want to be able to discuss their options - argue the toss and come to decisions based on finite budgets - and they value informed opinion better than a list of infinite options of equal value.
  • Deliver brilliant service - the best source of leads are referrals and we have been flattered that certain people have put themselves out to recommend us on. It has meant that we have spent virtually nothing on marketing (is this a mistake?) as the pipeline always tends to look healthy - this is all relative sometimes that business pipeline looks rather sickly
  • Continue innovating and taking risks. You need to retain the vigour and vibrancy of a start up and especially to retain the status as a relatively "cool" company to use as a supplier. The big boys have inevitably improved their offering in 2 years - so we need to retain our competitive edge by innovating further.
  • Pick your business partner/s wisely - your relationship will be tested to the maximum and the small fault lines which exist at the beginning will be widened at times of great stress. and yes - its a cliche but it is exactly like a marriage. My co-founder Sean has been fantastic to work with but the relationship is entirely different than how we envisaged it to be. Most importantly though we trust each other implicitly.

If these sound like self congratulatory wise words - i can assure that despite knowing most of this going in - much of it has come from sometimes painful experience

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

OME - 2 Years Old - Things I have Learnt - Part 1

where did those 2 years go??? Some random truths i have picked up on the journey as an owner of my own rec advertising business
  1. Be a shameless self promoter - if you do not constantly extol the virtues of your business - don't expect anyone else to. Yes - you can do it in a self deprecating "British" type way - but don't stop doing it. Clients i think are really attracted by the genuine enthusiasm we bring to our work.
  2. Most people will help you most of the time (if they can) - don't be afraid to ask. I have a generally sunny disposition as to the motivations of suppliers, clients, partners and this has been regularly supported by help and assistance along the way. So thanks!
  3. Always help these same people where you can - its called Karma (or more cynically you scratch my back...)
  4. Keep it simple with clients - confusion = inactivity.
  5. Try and avoid 4 hour meetings and 20 page proposals (connected to Point 4) - our greatest successes have been from getting a small defined piece of work - doing it brilliantly and delivering the results and then being awarded larger and larger projects or all the work.
  6. Don't work for (insert rude word) clients - i really don't think its worth it - no matter how keen you are to get them on board. It will end in stress and probably a poor financial return. Our clients (and staff) seem to be similarly like minded people who take great pride in their work and want to be the best at what they do but also have it in the right perspective.
  7. Spend as little money as possible in Year 1 - concentrate on getting billing clients - the furniture, infrastructure, nice branding can come later
  8. Take a break occasionally. It is tough not to become a little obsessed by what you do - but us softies in media/advertising do need to switch off sometimes. And we certainly became a little frazzled. Go out, go on holiday - bunk off and have a game of golf, whatever it takes.
  9. Have faith that if you have a good business idea/product and are motivated enough to deliver it - success will come. As a small business - you will out-service a corporate entity - its a fact of life - and lots of clients appreciate and value that service. some don't - but so what?
  10. Finally - put aside the money for your tax bill ( i so wish i had done that!)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Back to Blog

enforced break due to my daughter Maggie's arrival into the world - expect future entries to be made at 3am in morning during sleepless nights and repeats of Jeremy Kyle.
Anyway due to the 50% increase in my dependents - there will be no future mention of downturn, market tightening and recruitment freezes. This is not just due to my natural sunny optimism but also the TINA principle (There Is No Alternative)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

whats a single job posting cost?

Official answer - anywhere between £0 and £999 and yet there is a general consensus that a job board posting costs between £300 and £500 - it does not matter if its or a posh site like - its another sign of the messy world of online recruitment advertisng that a ratecard price has no relation to quality of product or expectation of results but more about charging a naive customer as much as possible while offering a consultancy 20 times the job postings for same price. I am not complaining as a non naive buyer - our customers get competitive advantage - so makes us look good!
It is the one area that we now see the occasional price objection (and i maintain that in online rec adv - you should never get a price objection as the comparsion to press or rec con costs is laughable) which is progress i guess. RBI's telesales operation want to charge £990 for postings on their sites, PeopleManagement is getting up there too - but believe me you do get customers (rightly in most cases) saying they wont pay that much for a single job posting. is there a price point now at which point a site begins to lose business? answer - not sure depends on how market dominant site is - are they relating it to their ecommerce prices and their offers to rec cons - answer - almost certainly not.

Monday, 21 April 2008

OME Stuff, Market, New Business

Tried to come up with a snappier blog heading....failed

had a few undeserved days off last week but it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the market and its possible ramifications over rest of 2008 (that's long term enough for me). Our new business pipeline is probably the healthiest it has ever been - with wins and projects from significant UK businesses such as and - which i think shows that any downturn is absolutely definitely going to drive recruiters online at an accelerated rate (hardly award winning analysis i know). The biggest driver for new business enquiries has come from our launch of - probably as the launch has made us give this product more focus internally and created more of a buzz externally.
So the OME investment will continue, the most recent example being that we have spent some cash converting our office from the look of a rather spacious but grim prison cell to something that is actually a vaguely pleasant environment to work in. I would like to point out that i have been excluded from any decisions on colours/styles or wall decoration which is a very sensible decision indeed.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

So is there any form of recruitment downturn occurring?

its the word that dare not speak its name but lets not be shy of at least looking at it. I am going to talk about our narrow world - so no mention of credit crunch or macro economic factors that the media are bombarding us with at present.

My answer is a qualified Yes and No - and please remember this is based on an incredibly short period of time
  • Q1 2008 was OME's most successful quarter in business by a long way- so thats rather good isnt it
  • None of our clients have stopped recruiting - announced a recruitment freeze etc
  • Our most recent launch (OME Search) is getting huge client interest


  • Feb and March were not quite as active as January
  • The extra campaigns from our clients are not as prevalent. So all our contract work is occurring but additional spend is absent
  • The job boards seem to have been hurting in March and deadline deals were dramatically attractive to get something/anything signed off
  • Our new business is not signing off as quickly as i would like (statement of obvious) - in my paranoid mind - is this a sign of caution/an unwillingness to commit
  • the phones don't appear to be ringing as much

Am i worried? not particularly - its end of financial year - we are still growing and as we all know - even a mild downturn will make clients look really carefully at their costs/cost per hire and that is fabulous news for online in general and OnlineMediaExperts in particular.

So in a way - a potential scare like this could be the best thing to happen to us!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Things that are not so good about working in online recruitment advertising

Ok - enough sunniness lets have some of my personal pet peeves about working in this beautiful industry
  1. In terms of media, it is still so painfully slow sometimes the sales cycle of getting clients online, piloting project, and reporting and tracking and then gaining more long term commitment - patience is a virtue i guess.....
  2. In terms of site build, social network programmes etc - there are so many things a client should/could do - that sometimes they do nothing. And yes i know that is our job to coax our clients along this path.
  3. An industry that still has a high % of bullshit artists, and bullshit products that catch out the unwary clients and damage their views on the whole lot of us.
  4. Its still the Wild West out there on pricing - absolutely all over the place. Hang on - i like that actually as it makes us look really good that we buy well and cut through the mess.
  5. Product ignorance - its just not good enough that some account managers do not undersrand the ins and outs of their own product - come on - this is a basic standard surely
  6. I feel bad when i let sales people down - who i know are under intense pressure from their superiors to close a deal - but generally it is not rate dependent and when the price comes crashing down, it serves no purpose other than to make us all feel a bit cheap. This is the nature of the beast and believe me we all have to do a similar sort of thing sometimes.
  7. and finally - people thinking i have an encyclopaedic knowledge about the complete internet and any knowledge about the workings of computers. When queried occasionally on these topics - its hopefully the only time i turn into No3 above.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

10 Things I love about working in online recruitment advertising

Been working too hard recently so the following is an unstructured self pep talk - here goes
  1. There is no "how to guide" on doing things well. In their own small way many of the things we do will be the first time that they have been done in precisely that way. Yes you should have a level of competence ("expertise") but a lot of this stuff is still new. Hence...
  2. You are allowed to make mistakes. Not jaw dropping "how dumb are you?" mistakes but errors that may have been made in trying to do something quite exciting that with small amends and a lot of effort will still be brilliant
  3. The alternative of working in print or normal account management or even worse getting a proper job is deathly dull
  4. When i actually tell people about what we do at OME - i can sort of make my job sound actually rather cool (we all know the reality is not quite as cool but occasional artistic licence needs to be allowed)
  5. Rarely do clients shut their mind from what we talk to them about - they are generally keen and positive. Now as for getting them to action certain projects - well there is the trickier part
  6. The supplier /agency/ client relationships are largely collaborative and healthy. And there is a real sense of community against the Luddites. And by and large the people are alright too and having spent a couple of years in product advertising/marketing - believe there are plenty of arrogant idiots out there
  7. Online works - so its great being judged by tangible results - generally speaking its not airy fairy (see point 6) and it delivers
  8. Its wonderful working in a marketplace that is increasing every year - again having worked in sectors in decline - its not fun. You sit in meetings deciding who to cut - and you know there is another meeting ocurring where they decide whether you will be cut too.
  9. Seeing people making a lot of cash. Now this is tempered by feelings of huge jealousy, envy and injustice and it would be dwarfed by the feeling of "seeing me make a lot of cash" but its great to see people cashing in on their hard work and rewarded for their entrepreneurial skills - normally that is.....
  10. Most importantly i can look at Cricinfo, Betfair, Popbitch, mediaguardian and people imagine i am working. What on earth did office workers do before the internet?

so that made me feel better - tomorrow "the 10 things i hate about....."

OME Search Launches

So we thought life was getting too boring and easy and have launched a new company - its not stunningly innovative (well not in our small world) but believe me it is to UK Plcs who have been incredibly positive about the product of search over last 12 months.

We will divert all our existing search work into this new organisation and touch wood the aim is for it to also introduce new clients into the mothership that is the original OME. It sounded like a good plan when we discussed it with Andy who is launching this for us - and amazingly it still sounded good the next day. Will keep everyone posted...

Press Release Below

OnlineMediaExperts launches a recruitment dedicated Search Engine Marketing agency

OnlineMediaExperts has launched a specialist search business that will complement their existing media planning and buying services. The new company, called OME Search, will focus exclusively on the largest growing sector of the UK advertising marketplace and ensure that its clients receive outstanding ROI in this area. OME Search will be managed by Andy Gray, previously Client Services Director of digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx, who has also had many years experience in recruitment advertising with Bernard Hodes and VNU.

Dominic Sumners, Managing Director of OME said;“We want to make sure we bring OME’s dedicated focus to this area as the value of search engine marketing is irrefutable. It’s brilliant that we have got someone of Andy’s reputation to develop this business for our clients.”

Andy Gray, Director of OME Search said;“I’m delighted to be joining OME at such an important and exciting time. This is a fantastic opportunity to combine my experience of digital marketing and recruitment with the support of such a well regarded and successful team.”

For further information, please call Dominic Sumners on 020 7288 6583 or email

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

New Blog Location

Not the most exciting news but a necessary switch as the last platform was basically rubbish. Only OME news to speak of is i have officially become OME's "Roger the Rep" or a poor man's Gareth Cheeseman - up and down Britain's motorways in my Ford Mondeo, Ginsters wrappers and McFlurry pots in the back flogging our wares. On a more positive note i have been seeing customers both existing and prospective which is definitely a rewarding thing and none of them has mentioned impending global economic meltdown which is definitely good!
Will be reposting some of my more recent posts on the old platform as dont want anybody to miss out!