Putting the art in ad tech: an interview with Kargo

Shobha Shobha Doshi

We strive to bring AdThrive publishers unique opportunities you can’t find anywhere else and are excited to announce a one-of-a-kind new partnership with Kargo

In Kargo’s own words, they “put the art in ad tech”, with a mobile-only focus on creating innovative campaigns and ad experiences. Kargo ads reach 100% of smartphone users in the US, so if you’ve ever come across an ad on mobile with a great experience and a fun design, you’ve likely experienced a Kargo ad.

As we’re always striving to grow your revenue but also give your readers a great experience — and serve the ads we’d like to see when our team is browsing the web — partnering with Kargo was a perfect fit.

Kargo’s ad marketplace is invitation-only, and AdThrive publishers now enjoy a first-of-its-kind integration under the CafeMedia umbrella, as a proven destination for premium and brand-safe content. You’ll see Kargo ads integrated into the ad spaces on your site, serving when they’re the winning bid.

We asked Mike Shaughnessy, SVP Operations & Partnerships at Kargo, to share some insights with you today on why bringing together high-quality mobile ads and your high-quality content and audiences is such a strong combination for success!

Kargo is committed to “delivering quality experiences in premium environments” — what does that mean?

Kargo, at its heart, is about creating mobile advertising experiences that elevate brands and motivate consumers. Our formula: standout creatives thoughtfully placed in hand-picked premium environments. Editorial environments, where consumers are leaned in and engaging with content in a meaningful way, are proven to drive outcomes for advertisers. Our invite-only marketplace curates fact-based, quality inventory, and our design team creates beautiful and engaging ads for brands with the consumer experience as our guiding principle.

As the industry evolves, technology changes, and consumer consumption habits shift, we will continue taking our formula to the lab — to guarantee we are delivering the highest-quality solutions. With our large format, in-article units driving higher recall than Instagram ads, we are able to validate what we are working tirelessly to achieve — providing optimal mobile web opportunities for marketers’ messages to capture attention and drive actions.

Editorial environments, where consumers are leaned in and engaging with content in a meaningful way, are proven to drive outcomes for advertisers.

Mike Shaughnessy, Kargo

What do you look for in a “premium environment”?

Kargo is focused on the mobile web, which lives beyond Safari and Chrome — think of all of the times you are in an app and a browser opens within it. In fact, consumers are spending more time in the mobile web than in any app. Premium content lives within the mobile web and has users leaning in reading, rather than scrolling through a feed. 

It’s imperative the environments we surround are supported by professional editorial teams with diverse viewpoints. We expect our publishing partners to represent a scale within a variety of niche and well-known categories while maintaining the highest brand safety, viewability, and performance standards.

CafeMedia is a well-known brand that offers scale and brand safety. We are excited to integrate with your sites because they attract a diverse, engaged audience, which is what brands care about as much as they care about great content.

What makes a quality ad experience? 

A quality ad experience has to be a “win-win-win”— it has to be captivating without being intrusive for the viewer, it has to be well designed to fit the context for the publisher, and it has to drive positive outcomes for the advertiser. 

Kargo’s research shows that premium editorial environments are the most efficient at supporting ad recall and building trust. Metrics like these deliver long-term value that brands often deprioritize on digital.

However, with so much money moving away from print and TV, brands are rethinking how they drive quality experiences to influence more than just clicks and short-term conversion. We design eye-catching ads like our Branded Takeover and the Digital Circular to increase attention and engagement. We strive to make ad experiences that enhance the consumers’ time on publishers’ sites while driving outcomes for advertisers.

A quality ad experience has to be a “win-win-win”— it has to be captivating without being intrusive for the viewer, it has to be well designed to fit the context for the publisher, and it has to drive positive outcomes for the advertiser.

Mike Shaughnessy, Kargo

How does Kargo provide better business outcomes for marketers and premium publishers?

Kargo has always been mobile-first. With this channel emerging as the big winner in 2020, more brands and publishers are seeing the value that it has for rich engagement — through video, commerce, and more. Our products are vetted by research companies to ensure they drive the anticipated outcomes for our advertisers. For publishers, the wide range of formats create new inventory opportunities and offer unique designs that add to the consumers’ experiences on site.

We love the phrase “Creative Science” — how does that come into play? 

There is always intention in the products and experiences we create. It is not enough for an ad to look beautiful — it has to achieve the quantitative KPIs our advertisers seek. We often partner with third-party research vendors to test our ads before they ever appear in front of a brand or consumer, to ensure that they drive engagement, attention, and recall. With these findings and insights, we continue to create evolving design and product principles to guide our branding experiences.

Are there any interesting trends you’re seeing emerge in 2020 or anticipate for the future?

In 2020, we saw huge increases in online activity, with some publishers seeing traffic increase by 50% or even 100%. That’s especially true on mobile, which stole share from desktop. More sophisticated mobile behaviors like long format video viewing and ecommerce also jumped considerably. 

This means that brands will be looking to spend more on mobile, of course, but also expanding their approach to include more engaging experiences that drive brand metrics and more commerce-oriented conversion experiences.

At the same time, brands and publishers need to ensure that they have an eye toward privacy regulation and data best practices. Apple has started restricting the use of IDFA while many regulations like ITP, GDPR, and CCPA are requiring that data is handled in a compliant manner. These market forces, as well as Google Chrome’s decision to sunset third-party cookie targeting, are a fundamental change to the way media is bought. 

Brands’ and publishers’ ability to pivot and innovate new strategies for reaching audiences will determine who wins and loses.

Thank you, Mike! We’re thrilled to be working with Kargo and we love how Kargo’s mission perfectly aligns with our community’s focus on quality.

Publishers, if you’re looking for details and next steps on privacy regulations and the future of third-party cookies, check out our guides here:

And if you want to make sure you’re eligible to run all of Kargo’s offerings that are available to you, please chat with our ad performance experts anytime!