In the last week of May, we had an extraordinary opportunity to attend the Siinda Live conference in Berlin. This event brought together participants from all over Europe and served as a platform for networking, idea exchange, and inspiration. In this article, Founder newage. Oleksiy Lyakh, a conference speaker, will share his experience of the event and provide an overview of our presentation.
How the Siinda Live Berlin Conference Unfolded
Siinda is an international organization that brings together companies operating in the “Yellow Pages” niche. Following the progress of the Yellow Pages, web pages have become the norm, irrespective of their color. However, this niche can still be considered as such.
We offered Siinda a presentation on technical topics based on our own expertise, but the organization was particularly interested in our agency’s experience of continuing operations despite the war. Therefore, we prepared a presentation on this subject, and for a few days, I found myself in the friendly company of representatives from hundreds of digital businesses: publishers, classifieds, advertising agencies, and tech startups.
Incredible Organization Level
During the pandemic, the world grew accustomed to virtual events, and Siinda Live Berlin reminded us how a professional conference should actually be conducted. The atmosphere was incredibly pleasant and cozy throughout. Around 150–200 people gathered live, everyone was open-minded, attentive to one another, and engaged in conversations. The organization was top-notch.
The four days of the conference were packed with exciting activities, not only those directly related to work. The organizers put in a genuine effort to ensure that participants not only enhance their professional skills but also have the opportunity to get to know each other and explore Berlin.
I had been to the capital of Germany before, but this time I was able to experience the city from a completely new and unexpected perspective. Each evening, participants were invited to have dinner at various historical locations. And every morning, 15-20 of the most dedicated individuals (including myself) went for a run in the city center.
Presentation by newage. at Siinda
Despite the incredible additional entertainment, the main focus of the conference was the exchange of experiences through presentations, workshops, and speeches.
I presented together with newage. CEO Oleksandr Rolskyi who joined online from Kyiv. The topic of our presentation was framed as “Managing a Digital Agency in Times of Crisis”. Of course, “crisis” is an understatement to describe what all Ukrainians faced last year, but it is during crises that our audience is most likely to encounter similar challenges. Therefore, we structured our presentation to provide them with valuable lessons.
The First Days Of russian Invasion Of Ukraine
First, we discussed the war and its impact on the Ukrainian digital landscape, based on our research, in order to set the context and try to quantify what was happening.
Then we shared the actions taken in the early days of the full-scale offensive.
- We paid the salaries for February on the first day itself, ensuring that our employees had funds for urgent needs such as gasoline, medication, and food supplies.
- While our finance director was processing payments from the basement of her house, the rest of the team searched for bomb shelters near their homes. Some traveled to the western regions of the country, while others engaged in volunteering activities. It was not an ordinary work Thursday.
- We paused all ongoing client campaigns and launched anti-war advertisements targeting the russian audience at our own expense.
Later, colleagues and even donors joined this effort. Thus, the UA Advertising Legion was formed—an alliance of enthusiasts who hoped to stop the war through the power of advertising. It seems somewhat naive now to recall our optimism at the time, as if a highly optimized campaign could counter centuries of unreflective imperialism. But back then, it felt like the right thing to do.
The first few days passed, and the question arose: what should we do next? The easiest option would have been to shut down the business. The company had no financial cushion and no clients (as they had their own challenges and advertising was not a priority at the time).
However, we decided that we were responsible for the people working in the company and their families. We couldn’t leave them without income, without even attempting to continue working. During the first team calls, we were discussing our whereabouts, whether we had found shelter, which stores were supplying essential products, and so on. Those who were relatively safe were asked to participate in the search for contacts.
We decided to focus on partnerships with foreign advertising agencies. Our strong and validated expertise in the Google Marketing Platform came in handy here. Many colleagues understood the value of our skills and knew what it meant. Throughout March and April, the team searched for contacts, while C-level executives tirelessly wrote emails and messages on LinkedIn day and night. Without any automation, we individually sent over 7,000 inquiries, receiving over 1,000 responses.
It was incredibly important. Each response showed that we were not alone in our struggle. Even those who couldn’t help us sent words of support, which greatly helped us move forward. By April, we’ve got 30 small projects. Among them were unpaid trial tasks, but there were also commercial projects. We didn’t have enough money to maintain pre-war salary levels, so for several months, we distributed income equally among employees, excluding the C-level executives. We decided to forgo our share and distribute the earnings only among the staff until we reached pre-invasion salary levels.
Eventually, the situation started to improve. We built stable relationships with some partners, becoming their regular subcontractors. Some Ukrainian clients started to return. Currently, we continue to work, export services, and hire new specialists. Moreover, we reached out to not only GMP partners but also all agencies because our goal was not to become a white-label provider for European agencies, but to add value to our partner’s existing services. Looking back, we understand that we succeeded in achieving that.
Expertise in the Google Marketing Platform
When discussing what helped our business withstand the crisis, we cannot overlook the expertise of the Google Marketing Platform. Every newcomer at newage. starts by learning the principles of working with GMP tools such as Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, Analytics 360, Creative Studio, and others through Skillshop and internal materials. Thanks to this, since 2019, we have maintained the status of a certified platform partner and expanded our range of services.
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these tools provides.
Campaign Manager 360 is an integrated campaign management platform that allows advertisers to create, execute, and analyze campaigns across various media formats and platforms. It enables combining user actions on different devices and accurately assessing deferred demand, making it a cornerstone of our Comprehensive Analysis. To learn more about this tool and its capabilities, you can refer to the article What is Campaign Manager 360.
Display & Video 360 is an advertising platform, also developed by Google, that brings together tools for placing and optimizing media advertising. If you’re interested in the details and functionality of this tool, I recommend reading the article What is Display & Video 360, And Who Needs It?
Search Ads 360 is a tool for managing and optimizing advertising campaigns on search engines such as Google, Bing, and others. It provides the opportunity for centralized management of advertising campaigns, analysis, and reporting. To find out more about this tool and its advantages, you can explore the article What is Search Ads 360 and how to work in its new version in 2022.
Google Creative Studio is a platform for creating dynamic creatives. It provides tools for developing, testing, and optimizing advertising creatives in various formats, such as videos, banners, and HTML5 elements. If you want to learn more about the capabilities of this tool, I recommend reviewing the article What Is Google Studio And How Dynamic Creatives Work
Google Analytics 360 is an advanced version of the Google Analytics platform designed for large companies. For more details on its differences from the basic version of Google Analytics, you can read the article Ultimate Guide on Google web Analytics.
Summing up our presentation, I would like to highlight a few points we wanted to convey to the audience.
- Giving up and surrendering is a decision you make. But even in the most challenging conditions, there is a choice whether to accept it or not.
- The team is the greatest resource of your company. Even without money and clients, you can overcome and succeed if you have like-minded individuals around you.
- Invest in the knowledge and development of your team’s hard skills because the stronger your allies, the more effectively, and quickly you will navigate through difficult situations.
Final Impressions from Siinda
Overall, our presentation was not the only motivational speech at Siinda. People from other fields shared how to implement their experiences into business. For example, Paralympic veteran Dan Cnossen talked about his approach to overcoming challenges, and football referee Deniz Aytekin shared his experience of making quick decisions under constant pressure of responsibility.
It is especially pleasing that we were recognized with an award as a company that has demonstrated the embodiment of Siinda’s values and recognizes the finest expression of what being part of the Siinda family is. Having met all these wonderful people, I am sincerely delighted and proud to receive such an award on behalf of newage.