OpenAds becomes OpenX

The venerable OpenAds, the Open Source tool for controlling online advertising has become OpenX.  The owners have received financing for the project and are expected to grow by leaps and bounds. 

Having used OpenAds, I’m not a big convert to the product, but I know many of you are using it to deliver your ads.  There are several reasons why I’m not a big fan of the product:

  • It needs reliable and detailed ‘dummies guide’ to effective reporting
  • OpenAds does not translate to industry acceptance / compliance.  Campaigns delivered using OpenAds (or OpenX?) are subject to intense scrutiny by advertisers.
  • The product is not integrated with billing.  It’s very difficult to match up delivered activity with what was planned and don’t even try doing it on a mass scale (think of creating lots of invoices for lots of little advertisers)

Hopefully, they consider these shortfalls and they vastly improve their product.  Otherwise, I’ll continue to seek out established third-party companies to help with a network I’m working on (yes … I’m hoping to join the flock of new networks that have hit the scene).

2 thoughts on “OpenAds becomes OpenX”

  1. Thanks for writing about us and for the feedback.

    A guide to reporting sounds like it could be really helpful. I’d love your thoughts on what it should cover. Perhaps we can schedule it into our list of documentation work.

    Regarding industry acceptance / compliance, I’m not sure I understand… can you give me an example?

    I’d be interested to talk with you more if you have time.

    Oliver George
    OpenX Ltd

  2. Nice to hear from you guys 🙂

    I used OpenAds briefly during the summer of 2007 for two projects:
    1. An ad tracking system for an agency
    2. An ad network

    For the first project, reporting proved to be the biggest ‘Achilles heel’ of the structure that I had set up for a client.

    For example, we know OpenAds can be used to track on a post-click basis, but it is not easy to manipulate data online into formats that the client will like.

    Specifically, I was providing post-click service for an auto company that wanted to see leads generated for each vehicle and from which publisher the click originated. We couldn’t easily put that message into a format that the client would find simple to interpret.

    The gold standard for reporting (at least, as far as what clients are used to seeing) is probably Google Analytics or Microsoft’s Gatineau reporting tool for search. These show geography, filter tools, directional tools (where people came from, where they went) and a myriad other slices of data that are all pleasing to the eye and easy for non-webbies to understand. They are also easy to copy to presentations and download to excel.

    Project 2: The Network.
    I also used OpenAds in an attempt to create an online ad network. The greatest challenge we faced there was creating invoices and billing information for each publisher that was a member of the network. The tools just don’t exist with OpenAds (OpenX).

    Generally, OpenAds works well as an ad tracking tool, but doesn’t work well for folks who are focused on media planning, network administration (paperwork, not programming) and auditing.

    With the last comment, with both of the experiments described above, we had massive challenges getting publishers to accept ads that were distributed through OpenAds. Now, these were complicated ads (over-the-page floating-type ads), but the final reporting and tracking was way off from what the publishers recorded.

    If you’re going to get more people to create networks using OpenAds (OpenX), you’ll need to ensure that there are few (preferably no) discrepancies with the final reporting. Who are you going to trust is your records show 1,000,000 impressions and the publisher reports 2,000,000 impressions? Yes, we had discrepancies on that scale.

    So … lots to talk about. This product is a great start, but you need feedback from buyers and planners who are the end users. Shoot me an email if you’d like more first-hand details.

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