New Firm to Consolidate Local Media Buys

Chicago-based Centro launched today, with plans to become a one-stop-shop for interactive advertisers buying local media. The company has already secured millions in 2006 commitments from blue chip advertisers, executives said.

Centro will let advertisers and agencies reserve placements on 1,300-plus local sites, including the Web destinations of newspapers, alternative weeklies, and radio and TV stations. It estimates its reach at 50 million uniques.

Centro president Shawn Riegsecker insists the company is not a network or media representation firm, however, but rather a media placement service.

“Search had SEM agencies that made search easy. We’re trying to do for local what Overture did for search years ago,” he told ClickZ News. “This industry needs a holistic buying service that isn’t being paid to represent the interests of Knight Ridder, but is representing the interests of the whole industry.”

Centro has already secured “close to ten million” in commitments for 2006, according to Riegsecker, from advertisers including Allstate, American Airlines, Dell, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Northwest Airlines, SBC, State Farm and United Airlines.

Centro enters a field already rife with competition. Search engines and Internet yellow pages continually vie for advertisers in the nascent local advertising market. Riegsecker sees Google as Centro’s largest competitor. He says the company will offer newspapers a “benevolent alternative” to Google’s various plays for their audiences and ad dollars.

“Google is going to compete in classifieds,” he said. “At what point does Google control too much?”

Centro was launched by Integrent, a company Riegsecker founded in 2001.

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