Image above: Panel led by Nataliya Morozova, CEO, Havas Village Ukraine (far right).
Ukraine, where so much of our best advertising technology has been built for more than a decade, is still very much operating and open for business in the world of adtech. Actually, it never closed, even in areas like Kyiv, which we have been seeing such horrific stories about on the news over the past months.
How do I know? I am writing this in Kyiv, where I just spent the past five-plus days. I’m about to take the train to Lviv in the west.
The Kyiv I entered Saturday afternoon after an overnight train ride from Warsaw is not the one I’ve seen in the news. It is bustling, vibrant city of four million people. Families are out on the street. People are out in the cafes, restaurants and bars. They are working in offices. They are in the supermarkets, out in the parks. They are walking their dogs, taking their children to playgrounds, living life as we do in New York City.
Yes, the country of Ukraine has been invaded and is at war -- a horrible war launched by a terroristic nation. There is a visible presence of many soldiers, particularly around the major government buildings. But the front line now is quite a distance from Kyiv.
Yes, there are sandbags and barricades around sensitive building and streets, along with air-raid alerts and missile attacks. But the air defenses, of which Patriot Missiles are important components, have been stellar in protecting the city. The dangers have been from falling debris since nothing has made it through, even the hypersonic missiles.
None of this is stopping Ukrainians from going about their business as enthusiastically as before. This war isn’t new to them. Russia first invaded in 2014. Despite intense attacks on the country’s infrastructure, everything is operating largely just the way as before. The software developers -- for which Ukraine is so famous -- have kept going, many working remotely following the same procedures they operated under during COVID, just like the rest of the world.
I participated in some eye-opening in-person industry conferences this week in Kyiv. One was put on by Interactive Advertising Bureau Ukraine, “Adtech discovering Urkaine,” and the other was hosted by Havas Village and IT Ukraine Association on “The future of adtech technologies and market insights.” Both were well-attended -- jammed, actually, standing room only. The conversations and debates at both were fun, intense and lively.
I have never met more courageous, enthusiastic and focused people in my life. They know that they are fighting the Freedom War. They know that it is Ukraine on the front line, and that they are fighting it for the free world. They are okay with that; actually, quite proud.
We need to help them, not just by putting blue and yellow on our profile pages, but helping their businesses and people in this time of need. They need our partnerships, contracts and investments. We need to do more than talk. We need to take real actions.
How best to learn about ways to help? How about joining their trade associations, which can be your bridges. Check out and sign up as members of IAB Ukraine [iab.com.us] and IT Ukraine Association [itukraine.org.us]. These are amazing organizations with great leaders and critical missions, helping lead their industries and members through this war and into a prosperous peace.