Last March, Google began inviting a select number of publishers within its AdSense network to test a new hosted advertisement management tool called Google Ad Manager. The search company has now announced that the tool is out of beta and available to all publishers with AdSense accounts.
Since its unveiling, Google Ad Manager has been seen as a direct threat to OpenX, an on-premise software solution (known previously as OpenAds and phpAdsNew) for managing the advertising campaigns on websites. Both solutions serve and track the performance of ad units sold either directly or introduced by third party networks like Federated Media or Google AdSense (which we use here at TechCrunch). But only Google can “use AdSense to fill unsold inventory or compete on price against other ad networks,” optimizing returns for publishers by serving up the most profitable ads from campaigns vying for the same space on a page.
As a hosted solution, Google Ad Manager also has the advantage of an easier setup and administration process since it doesn’t require any server-side installation or code maintenance. A hosted version of OpenX – which would necessarily depart from the company’s open source roots – has been anticipated for awhile now but has yet to be released.
Some will say the public release of Google Ad Manager spells serious trouble for OpenX. But seen in a different light, the release also enhances OpenX’s standing as acquisition bait for the likes of Microsoft, who wishes to compete more effectively against Google in the online advertising space.