Centro Could Upset Google Ad Plans

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The online planning firm has experience with Ford, SBC, and Mercedes-Benz; now they want to help gather local Web sites into an advertising network. Unsurprisingly we tie Google into the mix.

Centro’s debut today of its local media buying service, as reported by MediaPost, features some interesting requirements of its potential local online sites that want to be part of the network (emphasis added):

To meet Centro’s and its agency-client’s requirements, [CEO Shawn] 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.

We emphasized the rich media portion instead of the text ad requirement for a reason. Google already has competition for text ads, with Yahoo’s Publisher Network and MSN’s pending AdCenter. Advertisers want to do more with rich media, but have found low ad inventory, high prices, and lengthy lead times to get campaigns launched working against them.

Google’s purchasing of “dark fiber” and a massive hosting facility in New York has been widely reported. Some speculation from pundit Robert X Cringely hasn’t been as widely covered, but bears reviewing. We reviewed a recent report by Cringe where he noted the existence of “prototype data centers” that can be taken by truck and dropped off near Internet peering points.

The combination of greater bandwidth and lower latency would make streaming video, and rich media ads, as delivered by Google a more compelling prospect. Google could provide the inventory for rich media ads across its network.

Centro’s approach to handle ad buying for local sites, and its developing partnership with at least one rich media provider, could be a move to preempt Google’s entry into the rich media mix. If Centro can offer better rates to those local sites and deliver on rich media promises to advertisers, it could become an interesting competitor in online advertising.

However, local sites have some revamping in store to meet the requirements of Centro and its clients, the MediaPost report noted. “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.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Centro Could Upset Google Ad Plans
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