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.