A CEO with extensive experience selling and reselling digital marketing services will offer a keynote address at the upcoming Selling Digital Marketing Services Conference in Chicago, July 31-Aug.1.

Shawn Riegsecker, founder and CEO of Centro, will address a variety of issues critical to those in digital marketing services at the conference, which is a partnership of Local Media Association and Borrell Associates.

We caught up with Riegsecker to learn more about his career, Centro, and where he sees digital marketing services headed in the future:

Shawn Riegsecker

Tell us a little about your background and Centro. 

My career began in yellow pages and print newspapers. I moved to digital in 1996 via the team who put The Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio.com) online. Then I went to The Plain Dealer and helped put Cleveland.com online. In 1999, I joined a small start-up streaming media company (Everstream) which was similar to Spotify and Pandora. We didn’t make it through the dot-com crash in 2000. I then joined RealMedia to run the Midwest operations for them in late 2000.

Through all of these experiences, I kept looking at the industry and how complicated and complex it was to buy digital media. And my logic thought digital was only going to get more complex, not less complex.

So in 2001, I left RealMedia to start Centro. The mission has always been to build the most comprehensive and automated digital media operations software in the industry: a web-based application that brings together buyers and sellers and automates the buy/sell process.

Looking back, even though I felt the industry was going to get more complicated, I wouldn’t have even predicted it would get as complicated as it’s become. The rise of [real-time bidding]/programmatic exploded the complexity in the industry.

Today, Centro has 700 employees and almost a billion dollars of digital media will run through Basis, our proprietary digital buying, operations and trading platform.

Centro specializes in advanced programmatic advertising and data services. How do those services dovetail with marketing services?

We have a continuum of products – services that work cohesively together allowing us to serve our clients in whatever way works best for them. We attempt to meet our clients wherever they need us. Many clients want to do everything on their own so they buy our platform and we help train their team. Others aren’t ready to bring digital buying, or programmatic buying, in-house and so we offer digital marketing services for them.

Regardless of whether we’re doing the work for them, or they are doing it themselves, every dollar runs through the software platform.

Where do you see the space of digital marketing services headed in the future?

There’s always going to be a significant need for digital marketing services. As much as all software companies, Centro included, would love it if every customer bought our software and did it all on their own, that’s not today’s reality nor will it be tomorrow’s.

Additionally, the media industry continues to get more complex and it’s not stopping anytime soon. We are in the early stages of advanced and programmatic TV. Billboards are increasingly becoming digital and soon AR/VR, wearables, haptic technologies, IoT, voice search, chatbots are still coming.

Software can automate only the past, not the future. As software companies work hard to automate the industry, new options will continually be introduced which will require marketing services to help clients understand and navigate the landscape.

The best advice I give to younger people entering the industry is to ensure they are as future-focused as they possibly can be. Those who understand the future, the implications, and can interpret the future for clients are always going to be in high-demand.

You can register for the Selling Digital Marketing Services Conference by clicking here.