A new buying service aims to make it easier for media agencies to target ads to local markets without the headache of dealing with thousands of small Web sites individually.
The Chicago firm, called Centro, offers an ad-buying platform for agencies to target local audiences outside of Web portals. Centro has indexed 1,400 local sites with their vital advertising stats—audience makeup, creative specs and pricing—so agencies can build localized counterparts to national campaigns without having to negotiate deals with dozens of small-reach sites.
The approach is similar to how Newspaper Services of America helps advertisers efficiently buy local print advertising. Centro is already working with major agencies, including Omnicom Group's OMD and GSD&M.
While local outlets attract as much as 40 percent of offline advertising spending, they reap only a fraction of online dollars, according to Greg Sterling, an analyst with Kelsey Group. Portals like Yahoo! and MSN attract the most through geo-targeted placements.
"We know the inventory is there, the audience is there," said Centro president Shawn Riegsecker, a former executive at ad network Real Media. "We know the brand trust is there, but the dollars just haven't gotten there."
Centro promises to automate much of the high-touch process of putting together local plans. After logging in, a media planner can see all the sites in individual markets. "At every step along the way, we're putting technology in place of phone calls," Riegsecker said.
"From an agency perspective, the challenge of buying local on scale is streamlining the process and finding the resources," said Scott Shamberg, vp of e-marketing at Critical Mass.
James Hering, director of integrated media at Interpublic Group's TM Advertising, plans to use Centro for clients like American Airlines and Verizon SuperPages. "It all goes back to, Can I make this simpler and can I make this more efficient?" he said.