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Start-up OpenX touts burgeoning ad traffic

Ad-serving software and service start-up OpenX launched its new businesses in the throes of a recession, but the company is happy about results.

Recession? What recession?

It may be that the technology and advertising industries are curtailing spending in the current painful economic environment, but one start-up, OpenX, is happy to report progress in establishing its new business.

OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan
OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan OpenX

OpenX sells support and consulting services around an open-source software package geared toward publishers that need to serve ads on their online properties. The Pasadena, Calif.-based company also has been expanding online, first by hosting the software on its own site, free to lower-traffic customers, and second through a pilot test of a marketplace that lets advertisers buy ads across a larger group of publishers.

Among the milestones the company is announcing Monday: The OpenX software, installed by customers or hosted by OpenX, currently delivers 300 billion ads per month. About 2,500 customers are using the hosted version now, with a growth rate that sees customers double each week.

"This is some pretty phenomenal growth," crowed Chief Executive Tim Cadogan, a former Yahoo search and advertising executive.

Next comes the more difficult process of converting the free products and services into revenue-generating operations. The vast majority of the ads served by the installed software were from freely downloaded versions, and few of those using the hosted service are premium customers.

But Cadogan said the company has just launched the support products and online services, and that revenue generation is a priority. "We are all over the revenue side and pushing that really hard. I expect more news on that in the next one to three months," he said.

More than 10,000 customers installed version 2.6 of the OpenX software since its July release. The company plans to release 2.7 into beta testing soon, a version that will add a plug-in system that will enable customers to customize the software with specific modules for tasks such as specific targeting, video ads, or mobile ads, Cadogan said.