Centro Pitches Local Ad Buy Alternative

Online media planning company Centro today is expected to launch its local-online-media-buying service for ad agencies. The company aims to give ad buyers an attractive alternative to the rising ad rates that Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN now command, without having to build and maintain local campaigns across hundreds of local publisher sites, said CEO Shawn Riegsecker.

He said that he hopes to convince media executives that an ad positioned with a local publisher carries more emotional weight for consumers than with Yahoo! or AOL. "Consumers share a personal relationship with their local media brands unlike any other media relationship," he said.

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.

Centro has existing relationships with some 1,300 local Web sites nationwide--from newspapers, TV and radio sites, alternative weeklies and business publications, which make up over 50 million unique user impressions each month, according to Riegsecker. Better-known publisher brands with whom Centro is partnering include Advance, CBS Television, Cox, Hearst, and McClatchy.



Riegsecker said he is aiming for partnerships with between 2,500 and 3,000 local sites eventually, although finding that many sites that are up to snuff will be a challenge. "The reality is," said Riegsecker, "even with the 1,300 (existing partners), there are quite a few that have some work to do before they meet the expectations of big ad agencies."

To meet Centro's and its agency-client's requirements, Riegsecker said local sites must be IAB-compliant; must support rich media technology and the incorporation of streaming video; must support text advertising; and must offer advertisers at least one of three home page advertising opportunities, be it an introduction message, a roll-up unit, or a peel-back ad.

Riegsecker said Centro is presently exploring an exclusive partnership with one rich media company; in theory, this company would provide all necessary rich media features for Centro's publisher partners.

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