SalesTech Star

SalesTech Interview with Katie Risch, CMO at Centro

Tell us about your journey in the digital media industry. What attracted you to join Centro?

I joined Centro as its third employee more than 14 years ago. I had been working in print media and, at that time, there was no doubt how fast digital media would grow. Centro offers ad agencies a unique solution to automate how they work. I’ve had a diverse experience at Centro, first working with publishers to help monetize digital inventory, and most recently, working with agencies to maximize productivity by using our technology. Now as CMO, I am focused on raising the visibility of our technology platform, Basis, and boosting its adoption among agencies.

How different is marketing for Advertising Technology products compared to other technologies, for instance, IT SaaS and Cloud?

Advertising Technology has grown up from almost a state of non-existence a decade ago to an incredibly crowded and rapidly evolving one within a very short period of time. As a result, buyers themselves have to be well educated on all the options, and the differences between those options. And new players can enter the market overnight with the latest point solution. As a result, the buyer has to stay continuously self-educated on the space and the technology available.

How do you differentiate Customer Success and Customer Experience? How have these definitions changed in the past 5 years with personalization?

Customer success is a portion of the customer experience journey. Customer experience encompasses the user journey beginning from when they are first introduced to our brand, through to the purchase decision, and then continues as they begin using our solutions. Customer success focuses on the third leg of that journey: training users on the platform and continuously empowering them to be successful.

Tell us how you achieve Customer Experience standards across Marketing-Sales efforts. How does it impact your targets?

Today, there is more focus on personalizing each interaction with the prospect and customer because there are more opportunities to learn about the business motivations of the person. We are big believers in content. We play a major role in educating our customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Through our content, we can enable our sales team to be resources for clients and prospects. Our content also helps us build our branding and push prospects through the buying funnel.

What are the core strategies you focus on for global business development? How does it impact your customer experience initiatives?

Our business in the UK and Latin America is growing rapidly. There is a tremendous need for software like ours that automates all aspects of the digital media buying process. Automation is at the core of our offering and is as crucial for agencies’ growth in Europe and LatAm as it is in North America. Additionally, education is a critical aspect of our global business development. Each year, we host multiple conferences in our headquarters in Chicago for our Latinx customers. It’s a great way for them to learn and practice advanced programmatic and digital strategies using our platform, Basis.

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What is the current state of “Channel Sales Partners” in technology? Could you elaborate with some examples?

The concept of channel sales plays a similar role in AdTech as it did in the days of selling digital and traditional ad space. Take data providers, for example. Buyers don’t necessarily have the time to familiarize themselves with the nuances between the various third-party data solutions. Hence, a channel partner can step in and act as that one-stop shop for them, to help consolidate and streamline. Reduced fragmentation and greater consolidation of various point solutions is one of the most pressing needs for buyers in the digital advertising space.

What is the sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?

At Centro, our sales culture focuses on sharing education and insights with prospects and customers. Buyers simply don’t have time to sit through traditional sales pitches anymore. The space is just too crowded with vendors. We believe strongly that the best partners in AdTech are those who can turn a meeting into a space for learning and collaboration. And, I believe, our sales team are some of the best at that.

How do you achieve this culture balance at Centro? What percentage of this is driven by the application of technology, reporting tools and coaching?

We’ve built an incredible thought leadership and education practice at Centro called the Centro Institute. Hundreds of our customers and prospects access these resources every month, which really contributes to the sales culture of focusing on industry education and knowledge sharing. Additionally, our platform, Basis, houses approximately 200 different data points and metrics, which customers leverage to make smarter and more informed business decisions.

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How do you leverage AI and automation at Centro?

Automation is exactly the reason that users of Basis operate their digital media business and campaigns more efficiently. Basis automates campaign execution from start to finish. Our managed services teams can harness it on behalf of our customers or leave it to them to use it in a way that works best. And, Artificial Intelligence powers the digital media buys running through the platform, so buyers see better performing media with less time spent on optimizing their campaigns manually.

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How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Customer Success leader?

We’re open to exploring tech investments that provide us with deeper customer insights. I think any company scaling software across thousands of customers can rely on AI to operate more efficiently, and be two steps ahead of their customers’ needs.

Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?

I’m a big fan of AdExchanger for industry-related news and best practices, and TechCrunch for trends and movement in the tech space overall.

Your advice to Customer Success executives and salespeople in the ad tech industry—

Focus on transparency. The space is so crowded and competitive. The companies that stand out are willing to share their best practices, insights, and knowledge with their customer and prospect base rather than keeping these things close to the vest.

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Tag a person whose answers to these questions would like to read from the industry.

Dan Steinman from Gainsight.

Thank You, Katie, for speaking to us. We hope to see you again, soon.


Centro is a provider of enterprise-class software for digital advertising organizations. Our technology platform, Basis, is the first of its kind SaaS advertising solution unifying programmatic and direct media buying, along with workflow automation, cross-channel campaign planning, universal reporting and business intelligence. It boosts media, team and business performance by enabling advertisers to plan, buy and analyze real-time bidding (RTB), direct, search and social campaigns in a single platform.

Chief Marketing Officer at Centro, Katie is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of building and leading high-functioning sales, customer success, marketing, and revenue enablement teams. Proven success launching and growing new products, solutions, and business units, as well as creating and implementing go-to-market strategies.