Goodbye, OpenX (Or Why You Should Leave, Too)

Dear OpenX,

When we crossed paths in 2007, you were everything I wanted: a free, open-source ad serving platform with a strong community. Within hours of meeting, I was serving our first real ad campaign. The future spread out in glorious possibilities. I saw the potential to grow my favorite hobby, building a community and helping people, into a full-time career.

When Google Ad Manager launched in 2008, I’ll admit that I took a peek. But you shared compelling reasons to say no to Google. Control. Independence. Flexibility. I believed then – and I do now – that there is a danger to giving Google complete access to your inventory and pricing data. Sure, they had some fancy reports. But I believed in your vision.

For the next two years, little changed. You did what I needed. In hindsight, there were warnings. I would often give campaigns an artificially early end date to get them to serve all of the ads on time. Sometimes we would under-serve, and I wouldn’t know why. But more or less, everything worked. I watched you launch your hosted platform and OpenX Market. And I was happy for you that you were developing a viable business model.

Then disaster almost struck on April 12. Hackers exploited a security whole and gained access to our system. Unlike other OpenX 2.8.2 users, the hackers did nothing malicious to us. We lost a month of stats, but no malware was served. We were able to undo the damage and upgrade to the latest version, 2.8.5.

The next week was launched two major campaigns and they under-delivered horribly. We triple checked our setup, played around with settings, and then started reading the forums. We were surprised to discover that the Campaign Delivery Engine was completely busted and had been for over six months.  The support forum was packed with months of complaints and zero (zero!) developer responses.

Then the sad truth hit me: you are an ad serving platform that cannot deliver ads! So what could I do but break up with you?

On Monday, I moved to Google DFP. It was frustrating to update our ad codes, setup our campaigns, and leave our historical stats behind. But my relief has been palpable. The ads are going out on time and with the right priority. We can finally properly forecast inventory availability. And for the first time, I can set a campaign to run and not worry about whether it will fail to deliver.

It saddens me to go. But I confess that my anger is stronger. How could you abandon your product without a hint of apology? I, like so many others, believed in you and the free ecosystem that you represented. I only hope that others can see what’s happening and jump ship before it sinks.

Goodbye, OpenX.

Regretfully Yours,

  • Daryl Acumen


    Nice to see I’m not alone in my exasperation with OpenX! I’ve put so much time, effort (not to mention money) into trying to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with this server and I think maybe it’s time to follow you over to the Dark Side. I’m going to check out DFP today. Thanks!


  • 1stopthailand

    Potentially good program that was so damned frustrating to work with since it never properly did was it was supposed to, inconsistent and delayed reaction made it difficult to trouble shoot. I would have preferred to pay a fee and have it professionally managed and with someone to ask ‘why’? Ultimately it folded this week (end Feb 2013) withdrawing its Onramp service without much warning. Now I have to face hours and days installing a new service and setting up all the ad details again. What an effing pain. The people who ran this outfit were shoddy from the start.

  • katzgrau

    My company had a *ton* of folks come over to us after OnRamp shut down. Then the self-hosted version had it’s own issues with exploits. It’s been great poking fun at them all along on Twitter, but I feel for the publishers.

    If what you need is basic adserving, give a try. It’s not free, but it’s built on a sustainable pricing model, which OpenX definitely was not (you can’t afford developers or support when you aren’t charging for the software).

    We’ll import all your ads from OpenX for free too.

  • Shahab Yar

    Haha! We just moved from Google DFP to self-hosted OpenX or Revive Adserver!