Centro and BAT Step to the Plate

Centro ad with Nick Lidstrom Det. Red Wings Brand Affinity Technologies -- which matches mostly pro athletes with online advertisers -- has partnered with online media planning company Centro to target consumers in local markets.

"Running ads with high-affinity talent in a variety of target markets is a more efficient and cost-effective endorsement strategy than a one-size-fits-all national campaign," said Brand Affinity Technologies CEO Ryan Steelberg. "With the Centro deal, we're reaching advertisers who already buy into the power of local targeting."

Launched in beta late last year, BAT has already assembled a network of about 2,000 pro athletes available to advertisers for far less than typical celebrity endorsers.

Clients include Web-based ticket seller StubHub, which works with BAT to run display ads for local events, and LegalZoom. Centro CEO Shawn Riegsecker has been building the core systems and partnerships of Centro, a division of Integrent, since 2001. In that time, Centro has helped brands -- including Dell, Ford, SBC, and Mercedes-Benz, through their respective agencies -- to plan local marketing initiatives across the country. According to BAT, campaigns with pro athlete endorsers are delivering 13.5 times average conversion rates and 3.5 times average click-through rates. A recent study conducted by Insight Express found that celebrity endorsements have remained relevant in an increasingly digital world.

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Indeed, when banner ads featuring video and still images of pro athletes were tested against the same ads with no endorsement, the study found a 180% increase in unaided brand awareness along with a 56% improvement in message association, where participants correctly absorbed the attributes of tested products and services.

In addition, the study found a 39% improvement in brand favorability and a 27% increase in purchase intent.

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