Advertising Technology

Centro’s Shawn Riegsecker on Helping Agency Partners Scale Beautiful Ads

Shawn Riegsecker is the CEO of Centro, a media technology and services company. The Makegood spoke with Shawn about his 16-year career in digital media as well as recent Centro milestones, as the company marked its 11th anniversary.

The Makegood: Shawn, Centro recently announced Kelly Wenzel as Chief Marketing Officer and Scott Neslund as Executive Vice President of media services. How will they impact Centro’s business?

Both are incredible people with the highest level of character, integrity and commitment to being great that has defined our culture.  Scott is our first senior executive hire from an advertising agency. That insider’s perspective will help us better – and more quickly – develop solutions that really make a difference for our agency partners.  Kelly is a software product marketing expert and brings best practices from the tech industry to Centro.  We really needed someone with a strong product and technology marketing background on the team as we prepare to launch Planner and Kelly fit that profile perfectly.

The Makegood: Centro announced that it surpassed 5,000 successful advertising campaigns managed for 2012, marking 46 percent growth over the last year. What are your criteria for a successful advertising campaign and what do you credit for this growth?

It’s been a big year for us.  When an agency places its trust in us to manage a campaign for one of its clients, success means it’s flawlessly executed.  There are really two prongs to that: First, we take on the entire logistical nightmare of buying digital media; it’s executed through our technology. We make our agency clients’ lives easier – get them out of email and Excel and spending more time on client value-add. Second, we make their advertisers successful: The campaign runs smoothly, delivers in full and meets the brands’ KPIs.

Our staff is the single biggest driver behind our growth. They bring a level of quality, character, and dedication I really believe is unparalleled in this high-turnover industry. But with that said, the secret to our rapid scale is really our technology. That’s what’s fueling such strong year-over-year growth.  We operate the most efficient digital buying platform in the industry for premium contractual buying. It’s helping our agency partners scale beautiful advertising on thousands of sites in the mid-tail which is what many of their advertisers are looking for:  “Help me take advantage of the rich, relevant, amazing content that’s available in the mid-tail.” It’s also a great complement to programmatic reach they can get on the exchanges

The Makegood: Centro is on target to exceed $200 million in digital revenue managed for the year. What are the main drivers and how will the digital market change within the next year?

The highest growth segment in digital media is coming from regional advertisers and their agencies.  Medium-sized businesses are beginning to rapidly shift their dollars from offline to online channels.  Regional follows the same curve as national:  advertisers first begin buying search and then move to display.  We’ve reached the point where display is the primary focus of regional brands.

It helps that we decided several years ago to invest in building a large national sales and service team. Being staffed in 28 cities across the country is paying dividends.

The Makegood: You reported that Centro increased the number of agency partners’ serviced by 22 percent. How does Centro support agencies to help their clients to improve their campaign performances and to be more profitable?

On average, when we enter into a media logistics partnership with an agency, we improve their bottom line at least 30 percent.  Those savings are consistently being generated by the realities of buying digital. For agencies, buying the top 5-10 properties is highly profitable work (much like buying network TV). And buying the long-tail via their trading desk is also profitable.  But buying in the mid-tail of sites is really unprofitable for the agency.

There are a lot of great content publishers in the mid-tail, places on which brands really want to, and should be, seen. But there are literally hundreds of potentially relevant sites, which makes it the most complex and requires the most amount of time from meetings, to RFP collaboration, to IO management, to campaign operations all the way through to billing reconciliation and vendor payment processing.  All across dozens and dozens of sites on any given campaign. It’s a mess.

We clean up the mess through our technology and campaign operations processes.  We turn the greatest source of losses into profits for our agency partners.

The Makegood: You’re pacing at an impressive 46 percent growth rate. What can we expect to see coming from Centro in order to meet or exceed this number in 2013?

The most important initiative in 2013 will be the launch of Planner, the first app in our cloud platform to help agencies automate the buying of guaranteed placements.

I expect we’ll see continued, strong adoption of our managed service offerings business and help agencies become more profitable.  Finally, we’ll continue to invest in the Centro Brand Exchange. Based on current trends, it’s on track to double in size as premium publishers look for a better solution for their inventory than the large, undifferentiated exchanges.

The Makegood: Thanks, Shawn.