Planet of the Apps: the appeal of walled gardens

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In internet terms a walled garden is a safe, controlled publisher ecosystem, often within an app or ISP environment, that controls the user’s access to Web content and services. The benefits walled gardens offer to users could see online recruitment activities shifting more towards apps and social media.

This limited access approach of walled gardens is becoming increasingly significant with mobile app downloads set to double globally in the next four years as smart phone adoption increases. People are spending more time on their phones interacting with apps, especially when it comes to social media and shopping.

Why this has happened is very clear; users prefer the faster experience of moving between apps on a mobile over waiting for a PC to boot up then navigating sites. Another driver is many large providers want to keep users on their network for longer.

There are many examples of this; Snapchat’s Discover, Facebook Instant Articles, Twitter’s Moments and the YouTube for Kids app. Walled gardens also get round the threat of ad blocking with adverts and content native to the platform as opposed to banner adverts across multiple platforms.

The main appeal of walled gardens is that they put the user at the centre of the experience. For example Snapchat insists that the advertisers in its Discovery section use vertical video, as that is the format that works best for the platform. So having principles and refusing to bend on content execution for the right reasons ensures in the long term a steady economic model. There is no irony lost on the fact that we are behaving like we did back in the 2000s; quality over technology advancements will always shine through.

What this means for recruitment is that the employers quickest to adopt and adapt app opportunities will be able to get ahead of their competitors in the war for talent. The use of social media as the main platform for campaigns platforms as opposed to just supporting other activity will become increasingly important.

Could it be possible that an employer’s Facebook page becomes the centre of their recruitment communications strategy and the careers website simply where you apply for a job? It could even host the application process too. The future is uncertain, but what is sure is that employers who fully understand their target markets and behaviours and match it with their outputs will reap the rewards.

Jim Bloor


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