OpenAds: How to burn $20m on a clown logo

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So, you have $20.5 million in funding from some of the biggest VCs on the planet. What do you do next? Roll out a great new product? Expand internationally? Hire a new fire-cracker CEO? No, you re-brand… for the sixth time. London-based OpenAds, the commercial open-source online ad server firm has changed its name yet again to OpenX. Apparently this is part of a “plan to move with our publishers beyond our core open source ad serving software” hence the “X” replacing “Ads”. So let’s just count those name changes from their first incarnation: phpAds, phpAdsNew, phpPgAds, Max Media Manager, OpenAds, and finally OpenX. Does anyone else think all this re-branding is creating a bit of an issue for the brand? I’ve contacted the company to ask them and will update this post when I get a response [see update below]

OpenA… I mean OpenX has around $20.5 million in funding from Accel Partners, Index Ventures, First Round Capital, Mangrove Capital Partners and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. So I’m sure they’ll be delighted at the comments on the company’s blog which are universally condemning. Some choice quotes for you:

This is a REMARKABLY stupid-looking upgrade that has more resemblance to a clown-party than a professional banner implementation/reporting tool

I must say I am also completely baffled by the change and agree with the previous poster the site looks like a kid’s site.

This was a stupid decision. Sounds more like a porn site now! “Come see Jenna Jameson and Mr. Marcus in OpenX”!! Good job there guys…NOT!!

Update: OpenX responds to questions here.

  • Scott Switzer

    Mike –

    I wrote a follow up message on our name change, site design, etc., if you want more context:

    Scott Switzer
    OpenX Community Leader

  • Confused

    Scott focus your time on getting the product better. Make it easier for publishers to send their content to Web, Mobile, RSS feeds and better tracking so that however people consume a publishers content they can track and amortise it.

    And whoever did the marketing for this certainly ripped you off. There are a hundreds of web 2.0 sites with that colour scheme and font. e.g Microsoft used it for Office with each colour then being mapped to a product.

  • D

    You can change the design. You can change the name.

    But at the end of the day, any domain with a “X” in it SCREAMS porn.

    Did their marketers not know that?

    This cheapens their name and brand and I’m not impressed.

    The bottom half of their homepage looks ugly :(

    Please go back to the old design and change the domain name.

  • Winston Ford

    While both are core to the brand, I think it important to distinguish between the name and the design.

    The name openx is so broad that it is meaningless and is not memorable. Openx is a box cutter in Canada. That is a logical usage of openx. A system that serves ads, is a system that serves ads, even if it has dreams of one day serving many other things, such as pizza.

    The design is also broad and meaningless. Color choice aside, the closest thing I can think of to balloons theme that would be effective for an ad server would be a blimp.

    I’m not sure who did the design, but there are some very suspicious props out there.. like for instance, the last line of this post:

    Due criticism of the new wrapper aside, the app itself is up and working for me using geo ip’s, so that’s commendable. Is anyone aware of another ads server where I can config my own ads with geo ip?

    • joe

      Geo targeting is pretty standard and a very trivial feature of all ad serving platforms.

  • A

    the only reason they rebranded is to prevent being legally eaten up by internet ad company 24/7 Real Media, which operates Open AdStream, the major publisher ad server. They were idiots to rebrand to openads in the first place.

  • PhpAdsNew User

    If you would stick enough with their forums you would notice that you didn’t mention all name changes. It wasn’t only “phpAds, phpAdsNew, phpPgAds, Max Media Manager, OpenAds, and finally OpenX” but also Awarez and M3. This company has an identity problem and appareantly do not know what to spent their investors money for. They definitely do not spent this money for working on new features. They didn’t ship any new features from the time they shipped Openads 2.4 (which happened almost a year ago) which makes me really sad. Maybe its a time for someone else to start working again on original open source PhpAdsNew?

  • I Am Not Posting To Spam My Blog

    They should hire the consultants that HMRC (the UK tax authority) paid £1.4m to to come up with the slogan ‘HMRC Ambition’. If £1.4m (~$3m) gets you two words (one of which you already have), think what you could get for $20m.

  • Rakaz

    It may be a bit unfair to call this the sixth re-brand. As you may be aware OpenX has it roots in the open source community and has a long and complicated history.

    phpAdsNew is a fork of phpAds… that’s something that naturally happens in the open source community when the development of a project stalls. When you fork you need a new name. phpPgAds is a port of phpAdsNew to PostgreSQL. MaxMediaManager is a fork from phpAdsNew. Openads brought all these separate projects back under the same umbrella. A single name to unite the community. Openads is now renamed to OpenX.

    Consider Netscape Navigator, Netscape Communicator, Mozilla Suite, Phoenix, Firebird and finally Firefox. A project with a long history changes along the way, something including the name. Still, despite the relatively new name, Firefox has become a very strong brand indeed.

  • alanp

    Here comes another bubble……….

  • martib

    OpenAds was clear for Ad-Server
    OpenX is it an office application, maybe Excel, now?

    OkayX we use your software for free but we also it because we like the spirit of the name:
    OpenAds – A professional system for advertising for small sites which start to make some money.

    (Interesting is the German social network OpenBC rebranded to Xing)

  • Typo3 Seo

    Hi i like this software – I think it is only a name! First it was – phpAdsNew – openAds – and now OpenX for my it is okay! Thanks for this great product!

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