I've mentioned Openads, a free open source ad server, twice in the last few months here on Read/WriteWeb. I continue to be very interested in their business model; but also I hope they disrupt not just the ad fulfillment and tracking business, but also expand to focus on creating an open alternative to the current online ad networks. While this week's announcements didn't note any change in strategy, towards attacking Google's cash cow (AdSense), they did make a few announcements that show that the organization continues to make great progress on the heels of their $5 million venture raise.

New Leadership

First of all, James Bilefield has been announced as the new Opensds CEO. Before joining OpenAds he was a senior executive at Skype and Yahoo!. Most recently, he was the General Manager of Skype in Europe. James had an interesting take on the similarities between Skype and Openads, calling Skype "another business which used free software and the power of community to deliver real benefits to end users."

Public Beta Release

The Openads team also announced the beta release of their newest version 2.3. Two of the features I was particularly interested in were: a) the improved performance and, b) more thorough reports.

Improved Performance

According to Openads, their benchmarks have actually shown a 10x improvement in the speed of ads loading. Beyond that, they now support scaling the service across multiple servers. This allows them to explain on their site that "Openads 2.3 is now capable of serving billions of ads each month."

More Thorough Reports

Openads has increased the number of available reports and simplified the creation process. Here are a few examples of the report generation options:

Beyond the more thorough reports, Openads also allows publishers to automatically generate these reports on a pre-defined schedule. Based on my experience working with publishers, I would imagine this being a requirement for many of the ad operations groups. There are too many media buyers and marketing departments that want to be constantly monitoring their campaign's performance.

Conclusion

While the future looks bright for Openads, and I think they could really disrupt the online advertising business, one note of caution is that Google has a habit of acquiring companies and then giving away their paid services for free. The most recent example of this is Google giving away Feedburner's premium services after acquiring them. Obviously the DoubleClick revenue that Google would concede would be much larger, but I'm sure this is one of the things that Openads is concerned about. One thing is for sure, the online advertising space is getting more interesting!

Note: The picture of James is from his profile on the Skype page.