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Indeed’s New Coke: so long, pay per application!

Indeed's New CokeNow, why would I call pay per application Indeed’s New Coke? Well, let’s look back to one of the worst product launches ever – Coke’s, not Indeed!

As per Wikipedia, in 1985 Coke had been losing market share to Pepsi, diet soft drinks, and non-cola drinks for several years. Based on research that indicated consumers favored sweeter drinks like Pepsi, the Coke formula was reworked, and New Coke was introduced on April 23, 1985. There was an immediate backlash from consumers, and Coke introduced the old formula as ‘Coca-Cola Classic’. Eventually, Coke killed New Coke. As Wikipedia says, “The story of New Coke remains influential as a cautionary tale against tampering with an established successful brand”.

Notice any similarities? Like Coke, Indeed has felt the slings and arrows of competition throughout the world – LinkedIn continues to dominate the white-collar world, upstarts like Upwork are gobbling up gig work, and niche sites are nibbling away in their various niches. So – like Coke – Indeed rejiggered their ‘formula’, also known as pay per click (PPC), and rolled out a ‘new and improved’ version they called ‘Pay Per Application’. Then they said everyone had to use it. Remember how that went? Yep, not so good.

To their credit, they realized that they might have a problem. So they walked their position back a bit, saying ‘OK, we’ll change it a bit – even though pay per application is still the best thing ever – and make everyone happy‘.  Just like Coke did when they reintroduced Coca-Cola Classic (even though of course New Coke was better!). Then things got quiet on the Indeed front. Except…

Their job postings dropped 50%.

They laid off a lot of folks.

And their revenue dropped.

Now, I’m not saying that the forced feeding of pay per application to employers caused all of the above woes…but it sure didn’t help. Employers are funny that way – they get used to something, they are willing to pay for it because it has value – and then they get all pissy when the vendor yanks it away. Geez! I suspect that if Indeed is willing to not only not force employers to use pay per application, but are actually willing to take the product off the market, that the company was having a problem with product adoption.  As in – ‘I‘m not buying Indeed’s New Coke if it’s the last bleeding thing on earth!!‘.  Just spitballing here, folks.

So…if you are too young to remember New Coke, well guess what – today is your lucky day! Now you can remember Indeed’s New Coke – pay per application. The next time you’re thinking about monkeying around with the product that made your job board famous – please, think again.

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