CANNES — With companies like Epom, Advisus and RetargetApp, Ukraine has long had a strong group of ad-tech companies.

When the war hit, of course, they were faced with big challenges – but many have continued moving forward with steely resolve.

Even so, with so many challenges still in the country, outside actors like Dave Morgan are trying to help out. Morgan, Founder & CEO of Simulmedia, has been visiting Ukraine to engage with events and companies.

In this interview with Beet.TV at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Morgan shares his recent experience in Ukraine and emphasizes the importance of supporting its ad-tech industry amidst the ongoing crisis.

Rebuilding and rediscovering partnerships

Morgan says: “I really believe that what’s happening there, what’s happening with the full invasion is the most important event that will occur in my lifetime and that it matters.”

Ukraine has played a significant role in the development of ad tech for the past 15 years, with many programmatic platforms, DSPs, SSPs and bidding systems having been built there.

Morgan believes that the business community in Ukraine needs help from the international community, so he went there to learn first-hand about the situation and what could be done.

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Ad-tech events in a war zone

During his time in Ukraine, Morgan helped put on several events with the IAB Ukraine and the IT Ukraine Association, focusing on ad-tech and the startup community. Despite the ongoing conflict, he found that the people were “keeping calm, carrying on and staying focused”.

Morgan’s hope is that U.S. companies can rediscover partnerships with IT services companies and ad-tech development firms in Ukraine, as they “need jobs, they need economy”.

He also wants to help incubate the startup community and begin working on the significant rebuilding effort that will be needed once the conflict ends.

Tech workers under pressure

When asked about the state of the industry in Ukraine, Morgan says that the situation is dynamic.

  • While many people left the country at the beginning of the war, a large portion of them have returned.
  • Tech workers are continuing to work, often having to move between their offices and bomb shelters during air raids.
  • Despite the challenging circumstances, these workers are also taking on humanitarian projects to support their fellow Ukrainians. Morgan recounts an example of tech workers at Data Art purchasing rubber rafts and motors to help families affected by a dam explosion, showcasing the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people.

Morgan is grateful for the support he has received from the industry and is determined to continue helping Ukraine. He says: “I’m happy to be back, but I’m going to be going back (to Ukraine) a number of times. This is the Freedom War. They’re fighting our war. Anyone that cares about freedom, we’re going to need to do our part too.”