Openads is one of the most interesting open-source projects/companies on the planet. Period. It’s an open-source ad server. Like DoubleClick without the lock-in or fees. In other words, it’s open source–100 percent GPLv2. I guess it should be no surprise that the world’s most popular ad server, powering Web 2.0 business models, is open source, just as the LAMP stack is the technological basis for Web 2.0 sites/services.
Google AdWords is enough to make a few pennies. Once I get serious readership and want to monetize that, however, the next phase would be to use an ad server like Openads to tie into more sophisticated ad networks (using a more sophisticated ad server). (The ad networks most widely used with Openads are shown at right, below.)
I could still use Google AdWords with Openads. It’s just another ad network, after all. But Openads’ software would give me more control over the ads served up on my site. It also allows me to deploy several different ad networks at once, letting me try out various ones to determine which is most effective for my audience. I could run them in rotation and designate the percentage that these ad networks serve ads to my site (based on contract, for example). I could have maximum control of the ads on my site.
Without paying Openads a dime.
I asked Scott how this differs from the traditional model that its major competitors, DoubleClick (1,500 Web sites around the world and a reported 300 billion page impressions) and 24/7 Real Media, use. I figured they gave away the ad server software and charged per page view or click-through or something like that. I was surprised to find out that all of the ad server companies today charge for the privilege of using their technology. Just for the ad server you pay a monthly fee and/or a CPM fee (utility fee, cost per 1,000 impressions) just for using the software.
How, then, does Openads make money? Scott indicated that Openads provides consulting services to publishers with complex problems (billions of ad impressions). But the primary revenue driver comes from charging ad networks fees for sourcing publishers. (Scott equated this to how Firefox helps Google. Firefox has its search bar at the top of its screen, with Google now getting a large percentage of its search revenues through Firefox. Firefox, therefore, is helping them reach the user as simply as possible, just as Openads helps ad networks find publishers and charges for the service.) . source