Q&A: Monster’s CMO on Digital Transformation, Reinventing the Company and Data Privacy

Jonathan Beamer is ready to take the company into a new era

Monster's New CMO joined late last year. - Credit by Getty
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Many traditional and early web companies have had to consider how to keep their brands modern while creating successful digital transformation. Jonathan Beamer, Monster’s new chief marketing officer who joined last November, has a plan for the web 1.0 job platform company.

“Most of my marketing career has been consumer-oriented and [involved] consumer brands and messaging to consumers,” he said. “I think what’s really interesting about Monster for me is that it’s a turnaround story; it’s one where consumers just wonder where we went for a while. It’s a task of reintroducing.”

Adweek spoke to Beamer about marketing trends he’s seeing, Monster’s competition, and how Monster is trying to keep up with the new(ish) kids on the block.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Adweek: What are you doing to shape Monster’s digital transformation?
Jonathan Beamer: [Firstly,] just being honest with ourselves and the fact that we haven’t done any innovations, even though we were the original disruptors in the space. That’s a culture shift, but it’s one where our main approach is to make sure we put the seeker front and center and [be] very clear that the value creation starts with solving the problem that a job-seeker has. Recruiters have all that information, and seekers may not even get communicated to if they apply for the job.

"We have all of the ingredients to be a leader in this category."

So really, just surfacing the most relevant jobs—that’s [an area where] Monster has lost its way. Originally, that’s [what] we were really focused on: aggregating a whole bunch of newspaper ads and making sure we were finding the right ones for you, and then we let Indeed take that model.

But compared to how we interact with other categories, the job-finding process still feels antiquated to me. It still feels like there’s a lot of places where we could match [candidates] much more intelligently to opportunities. We’re really in the process now of revering the seeker and making sure that relevance is top of mind and that we’re driving great experiences.

What’s it like competing with companies like LinkedIn, Fiverr and even Upwork?
I love this question because as we evolve the platform, we have to make sure we understand … how people even view [the concept of jobs]. LinkedIn does a really nice job of serving the top of the market. We have to recognize that’s a relatively small portion of the workforce.

I often think about a population that we call the “linked out,” who are the middle of the market and folks who are getting a job on what they can do and certifications that they have and the past experiences that they have more than the people they know. So, how do we allow people to merchandise what they can do in a way that creates a more fluid workforce?

What marketing trends are you seeing in the industry right now that you want to try?
One of the big trends being debated right now is how digital companies like Monster use data for good and make sure that the value exchange between—in our case—the job-seeker and the company is respected and valued.

"I think we’ll see a transition in even job searching [and] we’ll certainly see a transition in even what a resume is."

When you provide a free platform [like Facebook] to more than a billion people, you want massive reach … and the tradeoff we all make is advertising. Connected to that advertising is data, and I think we have to have an understanding. Most folks are willing to make that trade-off.

For Monster, we charge businesses for a product that is free to seekers, and we have to use as much data as possible to make sure we that what we are delivering to seekers is valuable. If I ask you for a home address, and then I show you jobs that have less commute [time], that’s a very fair value exchange. That’s what I press my team on all the time: Do we need that [data], and if [so], how are we going to return value to the seeker?

A resume is generally viewed as a public document, but that’s not always true for a seeker. Sometimes, a seeker doesn’t want the whole world to know they are actively looking for a job. Sometimes, it’s a difference by age. Younger folks are more comfortable sharing some data than older folks. Those are the types of questions we wrestle with all day long, and I think that’s the main thing that changes marketing.

Where’s Monster going in 2018?
In the super near-term, we have video campaigns, on both TV and [on digital]. You’ll see both those purple Monster spots in addition to human live action.

The live-action creative [taps] into the historical history of Monster. So if you go all the way back to when we were running Super Bowl [spots], we were a reverent brand with a little bit of humor and also pointed out how messed up the [job-searching] process is or how you might not be fulfilled at work. Some of those ads are up now.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll have the next round of humans on-screen, talking about features like resume review, which pairs the best in tech [like AI resume review] but has a human backstop where [live consultants] give the best advice on how you can make it better.

Firstly, we want to tap back into our historical equity and remind people that Monster’s here, and then secondly, go the next layer down and talk about how our products today can make the job search a little bit easier.

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.