Why job boards (including Indeed and LinkedIn) are radically changing the way they measure conversions

Job boards, including giants like Indeed and LinkedIn, can only attract customers when they can prove their value. That value is measured in how many (good-quality) applications they can deliver, especially when driving paid campaigns. But the job boards need to drastically change their tactics, due to sweeping changes in the way browsers allow tracking. As a bonus, this article contains a practical guide on how to implement the changes from the job boards.

Background

Job boards, including LinkedIn, are for many the place to start their job search. They can browse an aggregated overview of relevant jobs and once they’ve found their dream job, can navigate to the vacancy page on the career site of the company and apply through there. The latter part is key; in most cases, the application happens on the career site of a company and not on the job boards. But to prove the value of the job boards, they need to know if the click-out from the job board led to a finished application.

This is where conversion tracking comes into play. It’s a little script that is implemented on the career that allows job boards to track if a click-out from their platform leads to a finished application, as it sends a ping to the servers of the job boards when an application is completed.

This technique has proven to be very valuable over the years. Big platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed have built their version of a conversion tracker, which they have long encouraged clients to implement. But that all changed recently.

Current status

Indeed announced that they recently discontinued their Conversion Tracker, ‘due to recent and planned changes to 3rd party cookie usage on major internet browsers’. This is a huge shift in tactics, as it will basically make them blind in terms of proving their value to their customers (tracking finished applications on the career site). So Indeed is doing two things:

They offer heavily promoting the usage of Indeed Apply, going as far as enabling Indeed Apply by default when posting jobs directly on Indeed. To freshen up your memory; when using Indeed Apply, the conversion happens on the Indeed platform and candidates never get to see your career site. All applicants are managed through the Indeed platform, although ATS integrations are offered.

Secondly, they are forcing job seekers who want to apply for a regular job (that is not using Indeed Apply) to create an account. This is a prominent change, as the need to create an account is potentially a big turn-off for job seekers and thus lowering the number of applications and the ROI of paid campaigns. On the other hand, Indeed get’s a lot more accounts with actual user data, which is a potential goldmine. A very interesting move, to say the least.

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LinkedIn is promoting a switch to a new version of their Insights Tag, which utilises both first-party and third-party cookies to be able to continue tracking (more about the specifics here). LinkedIn is now also offering different ways to track conversions, as you can now also track conversion based on events.

That itself is an interesting aspect, as it is following the trend of advertising giants like Facebook and Google. In the past, LinkedIn would only allow image-based conversion, which simply put loads a very specific image url anything a conversion happens and relies on third-party cookies. Both parts of that technique are increasingly being blocked by browsers.

So LinkedIn is now switching to a technique where you create a specific conversion action in the platform and then have to use the JavaScript tracker to actually track that specific conversion. Sounds complicated? I’ll run you through it in a bit.

When looking at advertising parties like Facebook and Google, we can see that they are way ahead in mitigating the changes by browsers on making it harder to track. Technologies like the Facebook Conversion API that utilises server-side tracking and Google Analytics 4 Server Side have been in Public Beta for a while now, whilst it has been completely quiet from LinkedIn on this part. Indeed apparently has just given up and has discontinued their conversion tracker.

How to change your implementation

This part will dive into conversion tracking using events on LinkedIn. You’ll need access to the Google Tag Manager running on your career site, which should have LinkedIn Insight Tag running. Don’t forget; the Insight Tag requires Marketing consent from your career site visitors. Sounds like abracada but still interested? Just reach out, I’m more than happy to help.

First, start by opening the LinkedIn Campaign Manager and open the account for which you want to track conversions. Click on the Account Assest button in the menu bar and click on Conversions.

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Next, click on the blue button ‘Create a conversion’.

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Then, configure the conversion for your specific need.

Give it a name first.

Under Enter your setting, select the right conversion type. Are you measuring finished applications? Then select Job Apply. You can ignore the Conversion Worth. Leave the attribution window (clicks and views) as is, as well as the attribution model.

Don’t worry too much about the campaigns to track conversion, you can always change that later on.

Now we get to ‘Define how you would like to track your conversion’, the crucial part. Keep the Insight Tag toggled on, but switch to Event as a ’track conversion by’ setting. You will now be presented with a bit of code, something like

window.lintrk('track', { conversion_id: 5577106 });

Keep this browser tab open, so you can get back to this piece of code later.

Now it is time to open Google Tag Manager. Make sure you already have a trigger for a finished application. Create a new Custom HTML tag and enclose the LinkedIn code with script tags, like so:

<script> 
  window.lintrk('track', { conversion_id: 5577106 });
</script> 

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Save the tag, test it and then publish the GTM. Woohoo, you’ve just added event-based conversion tracking for a single conversion to your career site!

Conclusion

The next few months are going to be very interesting in regards to conversion tracking, retargeting and pixels. Whilst it is impossible to predict the future and be completely prepared, this is a great time to dive into the technicalities of tracking. It will make you a more well-rounded recruitment marketeer, but it will also help you to navigate the changes in the upcoming month the best and thus have the ideal marketing setup running to recruit the best talent.

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