Brexit Adtech

Ad tech, Brexit and the war for talent


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May 18, 2016 | 5 min read

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The Drum Digital Trading Awards (DTAs) have been an outstanding forum to recognise the exceptional people and businesses who pioneer and drive the ad tech industry forward.

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Ad tech, Brexit and the war for talent

Based on the award do itself and the great programme of events that The Drum coordinated in the run up to the event, one thing remains clear. Ad tech is here to stay, programmatic is the new normal and the industry still has lots of growing up, as well as growing, to do. We continue to go from strength to strength. All exciting times!

What impact would a Brexit have on the UK ad tech landscape?

When US tech companies launch in EMEA they tend to start in the UK. We have the biggest consumer market in Europe, the biggest online spend per head in the world on ecommerce, the most developed ad tech businesses in Europe and the best access to the most talent in one place – London. A number of these factors may not change if we leave Europe, yet our ad tech industry works extremely well at the moment, so would we really want to change our current dynamic with Europe?

Looking at some of the stats, six per cent of the UK workforce are EU nationals and in London the figure rises to 13 per cent. As well as occupying a large percentage of low-skilled roles, five per cent of top and high-skilled jobs are occupied by EU citizens. We certainly see this every day at Sphere. Look at the formation of your team – I imagine that it is a mix of people and nationalities.

At Sphere we now employ two people in our London office whose sole role is to proactively attract candidates from companies in France, Germany, Italy and Spain who want to relocate to the UK. In ‘tough to find’ candidate markets, such as campaign management and analytics, this is becoming a vital source of candidates for our customers and is helping them fill even more ‘tough to fill’ vacancies across the board, whether they are a publisher, advertiser, ad tech vendor or agency.

Being in the EU we have a larger talent pool outside of the UK and we are not restricted by red tape. 69 per cent of EU migrants from 2004 to 2015 gave ‘work’ as the main reason to come to the UK. Leaving the EU could have an impact on the simplicity with which you can hire someone from Europe.

Why is there such a war for talent?

There is a ‘war for talent’ because ad tech moves quickly. And people’s jobs and careers cannot keep up with this growth, innovation and the constant need for new skills. There are, however, enough candidates to fill the open vacancies in the market. Jobs do not remain open because there are not willing and capable candidates. They remain open as some businesses do not invest enough time in their employer branding and interviewing and attracting top talent.

What does your sales collateral look like when it comes to selling your business? How invested are your senior management team in attracting and spending time with new recruits? And like any campaign, how clearly do you set out the goals, time frames and objectives at the beginning of the search? And then stick to them when the ‘day job’ gets in the way?

As Greg Savage (a global recruitment ‘guru’) said, hiring great people can also be a process of “seduction”, we need to seduce the potential great employees from the start of our communication with them, eventually winning them over. So sometimes we need to take a long term view on attracting great people too.

We work with lots and lots of businesses who are brilliant at recruiting. And they are often the ones who grow the fastest while retaining their people. If you want to learn more about how to attract and retain the best people in ad tech, I would love to hear from you.

Ed Steer, CEO, Sphere Digital Recruitment

Tel: 020 3728 2973



Twitter: @SphereDigRec

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