Nov 2012
Basis Team

POV: Interview with Charlie Thomas, EVP at Centro

( – Welcome to The Agency Post. Tell us about yourself.

I’m Charlie Thomas, executive vice president of sales for Centro. Prior to Centro, I had my own consulting firm for four years and did long stints at Yahoo and Time Inc. Those two companies were the main influences in shaping my professional values and standards.

Tell us more about Centro and the work you do there.

Centro is a media logistics company, which means that we provide operational efficiencies for ad agencies and publishers so they can contain costs and be more profitable.

We achieve this goal through a blend of technology, data and services. These pieces come together in different ways depending on the customer’s needs.

My job is to work specifically with agencies and help them understand the solution we offer.  Most don’t realize that this kind of option is available, and that if properly applied, it can reduce one of their biggest barriers to health and growth.

How has the relationship between a brand and an agency changed over the past five to 10 years? How has technology complicated this?

The most important thing to realize is that our environment is expanding. It’s a time of abundance, but our business models, strategies and processes haven’t kept pace, so it often feels like scarcity. This is normal when powerful new cycles are in their early stages.

The data says that brand/agency relationships are more troubled and stressed than ever before. This is largely because the relationship is being pulled in two different directions. As the environment expands at increasingly faster rates, the potential for strategic innovation greatly increases. At the same time, the work is becoming more complex and there’s tremendous pressure to contain costs.

So agencies are being asked to elevate their thinking while also doing more work and increasing cost efficiency. You have these really smart agency people who don’t have time to think deeply about ideas because they’re caught up in operations and trying to solve new problems using old methods and tools.

Technology contributes to this problem by adding to the load without taking anything away.  This just makes the situation more costly and complex. For example, the average brand now has something like 20 different agencies, many of which are based on new types of technology (search, social, mobile, etc.).

The next wave of industry innovation has to be about finding new ideas to create operational efficiency. Once this happens, it will unleash a tremendous wave of creativity and growth. This has occurred before in our industry. The 1960s are full of great examples involving TV.

Read the remainder of this interview on The Agency Post