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A new company called Centro launched today that purports to be a one-stop shop for national advertisers to buy ad space on local Web sites such as newspaper sites.

It appears to be a local ad placement service for national advertiser display ads. The company’s president, Shawn Riegsecker, told Clickz News: "Search had SEM agencies that made search easy. We’re trying to do for local what Overture did for search years ago."

The company has close to $10 million in advertising commitments for 2006, according to Clickz, from blue-chip national advertisers such as Allstate, American Airlines, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and State Farm.

Competition for local advertising continues to heat up, making this a difficult field to enter. Centro will have competition from search giants as well as IYPs. The company hopes to differentiate itself by focusing on Web sites for local media, including newspapers, television and radio stations — thus capturing a segment of the advertising market with a primary interest in these channels. The company’s success will hinge largely upon how this segment of advertisers values its service model in brokering local ad space.

The good news for Centro is that online newspaper readership is on the rise, but competition from paid search won’t make it easy for the company — or any other company that attempts to compete for local ad dollars.

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