OpenX Ad Server is an ad server, created and published by the British-American company OpenX.org. It is a system that can be used to manage and optimize the advertising space on one or more websites. It is a tool for web site owners (called ‘publishers’ in the online advertising industry), but also for organizations running their own ad network
What is an ad server used for?
When managing a website, or perhaps even multiple websites, there can be a lot of work involved in putting advertisements on the site and removing them again, especially when this is done by entering the ads directly into the site’s coding. It takes a lot of time and it reduces flexibility. An advertising server (usually shortened to ad server) like OpenX can provide a real solution in this scenario.
How does OpenX work?
Websites and zones
In the OpenX Ad Server, one can define websites, and also one or more zones for each website. A zone represents a space on the web pages where ads are supposed to be displayed. For every zone there is a little snippet of HTML code, which must be placed in the site, at the exact spot where the zone should go. This forms the integration between the site and the OpenX Ad Server. It is a one time job, that will take little time for an experienced webmaster or developer. The word ‘zone’ is a term in OpenX, other systems refer to it as ‘location’, ‘spot’, ‘placement’ or ‘position’.
Advertisers, campaigns and ads
One can also create advertisers, campaigns and ads in the OpenX Ad Server. Those can be internal campaigns or campaigns from direct advertisers, but also ads from external ad networks like Google AdSense, from affiliate networks like Commission Junction, or from advertisers and agencies that use systems like DoubleClick.
Targeting: the right ad at the right spot
The final step is to link the right campaigns to the right zones, effectively determining which ads will appear where. This can be combined with various forms of targeting, matching the display of ads to specific situations. OpenX Ad Server can handle targeting based on date, day and time, geographic are (country or city, and more), web browser used by the visitor, and language set by the visitor, to name just a few. There are also advanced targeting options, using known information about members or customers (like their gender, education or age range), or from known details about the site’s content and structure (for instance: display the ad only in the ‘news’ section or anywhere but the ‘sports’ pages).
Statistics: to measure is to manage
The OpenX Ad Server measures how often ads are displayed and clicked, and has reports for these numbers plus ad revenue for the publisher, advertiser and webmaster. It also has functionality to measure conversions, leads or transactions on the advertiser’s website that occur as a result on a click on a banner that was displayed on the publisher’s site.
Booklet: OpenX Reference Guide
This 32 page guide provides a comprehensive description of the OpenX Ad Server, an explanation of all important concepts and terminology, and a detailed description of the process of creating advertisers, campaigns, banners, websites and zones. Next there is a section on more advanced subjects, including the algorithm for the calculation of ‘probabilities’ and targeting of banners.
Download: OpenX Reference Guide
Updated: August 7, 2010
Size: 312.56 KB