Google is taking its “Ad Manager” ad-serving software out of beta. As centre Networks’ Allen Stern points out, that could be bad news for OpenX, a startup chaired by former AOL chief Jonathan Miller that does basically the same thing.
Like OpenX, Google’s Ad Manager is a tool that allows publishers to manage and maximise ad inventory on their sites. Google’s Ad Manager runs on Google’s servers, and for those with Ad Sense accounts, adding the tool takes just a few clicks. OpenX runs on a local computer and requires a software download. Both are free to publishers; OpenX charges advertisers that plug into their system.
Google says Ad Planner is geared toward smaller publishers not served by either DoubleClick’s Revenue centre, or DART for Publishers, both geared toward sites with large advertising sales forces.
OpenX has a pretty big head start; as of April, 30,000 publishers were using the ad management system, including TheStreet.com, Digg.com, Last.fm and Guardian Online. The Los Angeles-based startup has raised $20.5 million and is backed by Index Ventures and Accel Partners.
And just because Google has released a free product doesn’t mean everyone will adopt it, or use it exclusively. Take Ad Planner, Google’s service for media buyers, for example. It’s free, and ad buyers say the like it, but comScore says it hasn’t cut into sales of its competing “Plan Metrix” service.
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