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Programmatic advertising in Europe: Missing specialists report

Press Release: March 25, 2017

Each year brings new programmatic innovations that, in turn, require more and more specialists to use them. For both publishers and advertisers, the biggest challenge right now is the lack of professional staff that can implement new technology. Without this, it’s difficult to truly maximize your profits. So with that in mind, Yieldbird checked which countries are best prepared for the rapid growth in programmatic tech and which ones are not.

The programmatic model is currently the leading monetization strategy for ad inventory among online publishers. Global spending on programmatic advertising has been growing rapidly in recent years. Just in the past four years, between 2012 and 2016, spending went from 5 billion USD to 39 billion USD (Zenith Media). That leaves it with an average annual growth rate of 71% - more than in any other digital channel.

With this swift growth and the dynamic nature of programmatic technology development, too many specialists just can’t keep up. Over half of respondents participating in a survey conducted in 2015 by CircleResearch, AppNexus, WARC DDM Alliance and IAB claimed that having knowledge of online advertisement targeting has more impact on the effectiveness of a campaign than the creation process itself. At the same time, 44% of them admitted that their knowledge in that field was very limited.

Although many companies intensively invest in the development of programmatic competences of their staff, their human-resource needs will not be fully satisfied in upcoming years. That’s because there’s a basic barrier made up of high costs and the fact that knowledge in the field quickly becomes obsolete. And on top of that, any organized trainings are mainly internal, and their ‘vendor-led’ nature makes it harder to transfer skills quickly and in a scalable manner.

There isn’t enough data that shows us the pace of emerging new positions. But we do get an indication of the degree of saturation in specialists by looking at LinkedIn, being the biggest professional networking portal worldwide. Using it, we wanted to determine which countries display the most advanced development of programmatic competences and which countries have problems keeping up with the changes in online advertising. To do this, Yieldbird analysed European countries alongside their level of professional "programmatic advertising skills”.

Number of specialists on the market

Nearly half (49%) of individuals found under ‘programmatic advertising’ specified their location as the United States. Europe's share of displayed profiles was 26% (13 931), while the rest of the world stood at 24% (13 564). Great Britain was clearly leading the way, with a 35% share of the total number of programmatic advertising specialists on the continent. Leaders including the UK, Germany, and France compose over half (52%) of the specialists active in the European market.

The first ten countries from among 48 analysed countries outside of the podium (which includes Italy, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Poland and Russia) constitute over 82%. Professionals from the remaining 38 countries compose barely 18% of the total number of employees with programmatic competences in Europe.

Programmatic competences among the workforce

An interesting index we looked at was the ratio between the number of specialists connected with programmatic advertising and the total number of people registered on LinkedIn in a given country. For example, in the United States the ratio was 2.01, meaning that for every 5000 profiles, there is approximately one profile connected with programmatic buying. On the other hand, the average programmatic level in Europe is 0.91. It’s worth noting that as many as 8 European countries report a higher index than the US, reaching a maximum value of 3.41 in Ireland.
It seems that in Ireland, there is one programmatic specialist for every 2933 other employees, which is two times more saturation than the average programmatic saturation reflected on LinkedIn. Other particularly high ranked countries are Finland (2.71), Hungary (2.62) and the UK (2.38), the second programmatic power right after the US, with the highest number of experts in that field in Europe. These countries are followed in the ranking by Lithuania, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Poland, and Malta.
The programmatic index for the European TOP10 is 2.34. The value of the index for the remaining 38 countries is 0.52, which significantly decreases the average European value. Still, big markets with a relatively small "concentration" of specialists in programmatic advertising seem to be particularly noteworthy. These include Russia, Turkey, as well as France, with an index at the level of 0.89.


Northern and central European countries stand out when it comes to programmatic competences, the unquestioned leader being the UK. Germany remains an enormous market for online advertising, but with a relatively slow rate of adapting to new programmatic realities. The German market is dominated by big publishers implementing new technologies at a relatively slower pace. An additional barrier for them is having one of the highest rates of ad blocking indicators as well as long-term contracts for premium ad inventory. These factors undoubtedly make things difficult for the expansion of the programmatic model of advertising and consequently, the transfer of competences for employees.

In Central and Eastern Europe, programmatic technology is still gaining popularity. 2016 was a year of preparation for publishers: they spent it on creating structures, testing tools, improving advertising products, and training their staff. We can still expect a rapid increase in the demand for programmatic competences in these regions in the nearest future.

- Demand for competences is connected with the market position of a publisher. Big publishers should learn how to maximize profits from foreign traffic on their websites. Medium-sized and smaller publishers face the challenge of adjusting their offer to the rapidly changing needs of advertisers. Both brands and publishers will equally need the assistance of experienced external partners for two things: To develop their skills in traffic management itself, and in improving the qualifications of their internal teams. In particular, they need help in transforming their sales departments so as to optimally reconcile the activities conducted in the traditional and programmatic vein – Tomasz Kryń from Yieldbird says.

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