Centro, FreeWheel Team For Real-Time Discrepancy Resolution

In a move that creates an alternative option to legacy media-buying systems provider MediaOcean, digital native Centro is teaming with Comcast’s FreeWheel to offer a one-stop solution for managing campaigns end-to-end, from planning to bill payments.

That last part is an especially important development. Although it seems like a mundane part of the business, reconciling and paying the supply side is where some of the most friction occurs in the media-buying process. Historically, MediaOcean has had a lock on that because of its longstanding relationships with big-agency enterprise systems.

The deal, which integrates Centro’s front-end planning and buying system (known as Basis) with the backend of FreeWheel’s Strata system, will effectively enable digital campaign buys to be reconciled in real-time.

Most important, it will save agencies the vast amounts of time heretofore spent on manual reconciliations to ensure that ads ran correctly.

“Typically, if a client is spending $1 million a month, it takes two to three weeks inside an agency to run through this process,” a Centro spokesman explained about the so-called “discrepancy resolution” process agencies use to verify that ads ran as ordered.

“It’s a resource-intensive effort that uses up time from media teams and finance teams in agencies,” he noted, adding that the collaboration with Strata will enable data on display, search and social campaigns to be fed seamlessly into the system, which can be vetted on-the-fly.

The actual time and labor cost savings likely will vary by advertiser and agency, depending on how much they spend and how many vendors they do business with, but Centro’s internal data estimate an average “83%” improvement in the financial accuracy and reconciliation of campaigns compared with clients who haven’t had access to the system.

In addition to cost savings, the new solution is expected to improve the overall experience not only for industry users, but for consumers, who won't see the wrong ads at the wrong time. Centro’s data indicate that the new integrated system reduces mistakes and errors 60% in comparison with existing procedures. 

It’s also a big benefit to the supply side. Because the process reduces the number of days sales outstanding (DSO) by 15 days, on average, media get paid faster.

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