If it’s good enough for Google Suggest — Google has recently announced that they their AdManager has moved from private beta to a public release. AdManager is aimed at publishers with small direct sales teams. It includes some nice features out of the box, mostly focussed on tracking directly sold and network-based inventory, then enabling the sale, measurement and provisioning of this. Naturally, there is tight integration with AdSense and multi-lingual support is excellent. There is also reasonable third party network integration. Some of the time in beta testing has led to new features such as time dependent rollout and previewing of ads. A sophisticated inventory management and provisoning system like this is no small investment and it’s a classic Google move to make it free to level the playing field — or to raise the competitive moat to monopoly level, depending on how you look at it. In this case, existing competition gives away its software to advertisers, and makes money, just like Google does, from the advertisers.
It seems unlikely for competition like UK-based OpenAds (now called OpenX) to be running scared. With chairing by former AOL head Jonathan Miller, more than $20 million in backing and an impressive roster of customer names, OpenX may be just looking to take their 30,000 customers into the arms of a competitor. However, Microsoft got hold of Atlas when it acquired aQuantive, so why it would want OpenX is anyone’s guess.
Note that AdManager is fully hosted and a closed proprietary system, unlike OpenX which allows its publishers to host it and to extend its PHP code base. OpenX’s CTO, Scott Switzer has also pointed out that a good number of publishers may not want to add another piece in the Google monopoly puzzle. On the flip side, many small publishers may love the ease of how software-as-a-service enables them to get live quickly.