Media Intermediaries

There’s a premise floating about suggesting media is fragmenting at a greater rate than media spending is growing. In other words, we may not be spending much more than we did last year, but our options — from sites to site placements — are steadily increasing. You’ve probably noted this yourself, in the effort to stay on the cutting edge. You’re inundated with more opportunities than you know what to do with.

This makes the role of the advertising intermediary — agency, network, or otherwise — more important than ever as clients struggle to find the right publisher fit, initiate contact, juggle insertion orders, and consolidate campaign reports. While retaining and training specialists in each media discipline is certainly an option, a better alternative is to seek these capabilities externally through “technology intermediaries.” Or so says Shawn Riegsecker, chairman and CEO of Centro, one such intermediary.

“On one end of the spectrum, there’s a fully automated exchange. On the other is a purely human organization. We sit in the middle,” he says of the company he founded five years ago. With components of both an ad network and a technology provider, Centro has made a business of helping planners and buyers navigate the expansive local media space.

It does so by automating the media planning process with the help of a platform that indexes information from over 3,000 local publishers throughout the U.S. The interface delivers darn near everything a planner needs to create and execute a local media plan, from available inventory to individual site pricing information.

Centro gathers information from broadcast sites, newspaper properties, standalone regional sites, and others, but unlike a traditional ad network it doesn’t hold exclusive representative agreements with any of them. Instead, the company seeks out and delivers whatever the planner or buyer needs in the way of local media, wherever it exists.

About three quarters of Centro’s customers primarily utilize newspaper sites, but TV and radio properties are also popular. Centro even facilities media purchase from would-be competitors like Internet Broadcasting Systems.

As a media network, Centro is also completely transparent. Advertisers know exactly where their ads will appear, in what the company calls a one-to-one advertiser-to-publisher environment. Recently, Centro has worked with such clients as Paramount Pictures, General Motors, and AT&T.

Could you locate the necessary information to make local buys yourself? Certainly, and countless planners do. But Centro makes a strong argument for why they shouldn’t. “We believe you need to create technology to eliminate the repetitive, low-value activities in the media process — pulling avails, finding inventory, and so on,” Riegsecker says. Indeed, much like relying on planning software, automating this part of the process can free up a lot of time and open the door to a comprehensive selection of local consumer ad impressions in your designated market area (DMA) of choice.

As with the companies mentioned last week, much of Centro’s worth lies in its ability to connect advertisers with local media properties known and trusted by consumers. Rich in lifestyle and community content, local sites allow advertisers to deliver their message in a context consumers can relate to.

They align marketers’ brands with site brands for which users already have an affinity, and that connection can rub off on advertisers. Regardless of the nature of their local advertising needs — which virtually every marketer has — few companies can afford to disregard an opportunity to reach potential customers in this way online.

As media opportunities continue to multiply, relying on companies like Centro will only become more practical. Media may be fragmenting, but the result needn’t be fragmented media campaigns.

Meet Tessa at Search Engine Strategies April 10-13 at the Hilton New York in New York City.

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