The centre of attention

Mobile-first advertising business KARGO has just acquired attention-based mobile advertising business Parsec, making it easier than ever for clients to buy digital media based on the time an ad is actually on the screen.

The addition of this attention-based solution to Kargo’s inventory takes the digital advertising market to the next level, beyond viewability, and gives advertisers a better understanding of the engagement that each creative and placement generates.

Cam Dinnie, Operations Director APAC at Kargo, says this move comes as the business pursues its mission to add more value for brands by building new ways for them to buy success.

“The acquisition of Parsec is a natural evolution bringing into our business the knowledge and expertise of Parsec which is one of the leaders in attention in the US.”

This acquisition means advertisers will be able to buy an ad through Kargo that will resonate and the engagement with the user can be measured.

“That has obvious benefits in terms of campaign performance and brand objectives,” says Cam.

Cam Dinnie.

“Parsec also means that we now have the tech and the AI within our business that allows an advertiser or marketer to deliver attention and also more importantly deliver a business outcome.”

Bringing Parsec into Kargo’s catalogue comes after a series of other acquisitions for the business including StitcherAds, which allowed the business to extend into social media, and the video platform Ziggeo. 

“All of these acquisitions are offering our advertisers and our agency partners a broader media offering to leverage the expertise that Kargo has in creative and audience targeting. It’s part of an overarching plan for us as a business,” Cam says.

The addition of Parsec has resulted in Kargo launching its first time-based trading model Venti.

Venti is a creative format that takes up most of the screen on a mobile and thanks to Parsec it can now be traded on a cost-per-second basis. This trading model will eventually be rolled out across a range of other formats.

Building on a long-standing relationship between Kargo and Adelaide, a brand performance tool launched by Parsec, Cam says bringing the business onboard was a “natural strategic alignment”.

“Parsec and Adelaide made the decision to split the businesses and sell off Parsec because Parsec was more of a media business and Adelaide was more of a measurement business. 

“We build creative that’s designed to capture attention and we partner with Adelaide to measure that across our inventory and measure all of our campaigns,” he says.

“Now we have bought Parsec to be able to further develop our offering around attention and launch new formats and have all the tech and the AI that sits behind that to optimise and run our campaigns.”

He says Parsec was a key target for Kargo because of this existing relationship and the fact that it was an early innovator and adopter in this space.

It also helped that Parsec’s business included high impact formats as well as the predictive technology to forecast and measure attention, and it had introduced an attention based pricing model.

At a time in the industry when brands are looking for more transparency and control over their media buying and looking for new ways to prove success beyond the crumbling cookie, attention provides the next level in measurement and understanding around media quality and creative efficacy.

“It’s a really good indicator that we are moving past some of these vanity metrics,” Cam says.

“As an industry we are always striving for better transparency over what an advertiser is buying.

“As a platform you want to make sure that the inventory and performance you are providing are delivering. You want transparency that what you are buying is a real human impression and is engaging your audience.

“We are always striving to get closer to metrics that actually drive the campaign outcome and I think attention is one of those metrics. You’re not just measuring the fact that the ad was on screen for a second, you’re measuring  the fact that the ad was on screen for an extended period of time and measure how long that was and then measure the impact of that whether it be brand metrics, purchase intent, or actual purchase.

“[Attention] is getting us closer to being able to measure a metric that is actually going to deliver a campaign outcome that a marketer cares about.”

So why should advertisers care about attention? 

“The removal of third-party cookies takes away some pretty significant data points that you would use to optimise a campaign,” says Cam.

“Bringing in attention is another significant data point that gets us closer to be able to predict but also and optimise towards certain campaign objectives.

“It’s a different metric but what we can do, whether it’s with Parsec or a partnership with Adelaide, is forecast, measure and optimise towards attention because we know that’s going to deliver an outcome. We can combine that with an AI-powered algorithm product called Cohort Intelligence which is a cookie-less targeting solution.”

As for the future, there’s lots more change on the horizon, all with the goal of creating more value for Kargo customers.

“Being able to roll out attention-based pricing and metrics across more of our metrics is really important, but equally importantly, we are able to leverage the technology and the insights that we get from Parsec into our creative building. We are always iterating the creatives we are bringing to market so I think that’s a really important part of what’s coming.

“The other thing is building up through our engineering team and the machine learning part of our business. Predicted modelling around attention and how we can use that to better plan and optimise campaigns that advertisers run with us.”

Despite the obvious opportunities that the acquisition of Parsec brings Kargo customers, Cam says a key point the business likes to make is that, while attention is good, it is not the end game of a campaign.

“Attention in isolation is good but not great,” he says. “We look at it in terms of effective attention. It’s a data point, it’s part of that overall campaign but there is a broader business objective.”

Instead of solely focusing on attention, Kargo focuses on other important results such as whether a campaign creates brand uplift, drives users to a site or promotes more app downloads.

“We would never recommend using attention as the sole metric of measuring the performance of the campaign. It’s very much around effective attention so attention that is going to deliver a brand outcome etc.”

To support this, and as a research focused business, Kargo runs a KBR – Kargo Brand Research – alongside every campaign of a certain size.

“We know from studies that have been done that attention drives these brand outcomes. We want to do that for our advertisers as well. It’s not just running attention for attention’s sake, we’re going to run it and measure the impact of that for them as a brand via the KBR.”  

To find out if your digital advertising can benefit from Parsec, visit  

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of NZ Marketing.

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