Every affiliate needs a set of tools and software to help them do their business of offering various products and services to different audiences.

When you’re just starting out then the whole technical side of things is not that challenging. Yes, you still need to set up a domain and connect it to your hosting account, and then install WordPress. But from that point on, you’re basically all set.

Most of the on-page work for an affiliate happens when some sales messages need to be written, or when some affiliate links need to be displayed, or when some SEO work should be done to improve the site’s rankings. But apart from that, there aren’t that many other things.

However, at some point, you might want to start displaying advertisements. At first, ads are not hard to manage either. When you’re just starting out you’re likely to sign up for AdSense, Chitika or some other popular ad platform. As you gain experience in advertising, however, your situation may change, and the more popular your site gets the more money you can make from advertising.

Traditional ad networks probably won’t make your rich. To see some truly worthwhile results you’ll have to take matters in your own hands and start publishing ads yourself. This is where OpenX comes into play.

OpenX software – called OpenX Source – is an open-source advertising server. What this means is that you can download it for free, have it placed on your own hosting account, and then set it up for managing the ads you’re displaying on your site.

Why To Use OpenX Source?

OpenX Source, or any other advertising server has one main advantage over traditional ad networks and platforms – you get full control over the ads you want to display.

AdSense gives you only a small area in which you can change things. All ads are contextual and you can’t hand-pick the exact ads you want to feature on your site. Also, you are likely to encounter many ads you don’t like, yet they will still be displayed on your site.

With a private ad server there are no such problems. Also, OpenX Source provides many additional features that are worth looking into.

Main Features in OpenX Source

First of all, when you get OpenX you don’t have to wave your AdSense account goodbye. You can use both, your in-house ads and AdSense ads at the same time. OpenX will take care of rotating the ads.

Other basic features of OpenX are: click tracking, geotargeting, zone-based ad selection, direct ads support, ad targeting (per browsers, domains, languages).

The fact that OpenX supports in-house ads means that you can start selling advertising space on your site directly, without any network like AdSense standing in the way. This can deliver bigger profits and better conversions from the ads.

You can implement any standard pricing model: CPM, CPC, CPA, fixed cost, and display ads of all popular types: image ads, Flash banners, rich media ads, text ads, even video ads.

You also get eCPM optimization for all buying models, which means that ads delivering the best results are displayed the most. This is a very useful feature as you don’t have to optimize this by hand. You also get access to custom reports, so you can always check what’s going on with your campaigns.

If that’s not enough OpenX also enables one click integration with the OpenX Market, which gives you access to higher-paying customers for your ad space. For instance, in OpenX Market advertisers can bid on your inventory (available ad space) in real time.

In a sentence, OpenX Source is a full-blown advertising platform, just like AdSense, only you’re the owner, and you get full control over what gets displayed on your site.

So here’s the question:

Who Can Benefit the Most from OpenX Source?

Not new affiliates with brand new sites, obviously.

In essence, you can’t get the most out of OpenX until you have an affiliate site that’s already developed and receives a lot of traffic. Only then it makes sense to switch to publishing ads yourself instead of doing it through AdSense.

Here are some conditions when switching to OpenX is a sensible idea:

  • When you have a popular site with lots of visitors reading it every day.
  • When you’ve already created some relationships with individual advertisers.
  • When AdSense or other platforms don’t present the most converting ads (in your opinion).
  • If you want to have full control over what ads get displayed on which pages and to whom.
  • If you want to provide multiple pricing models at the same time.
  • If you have an employee or a team of people hired primarily to manage your advertising space.

If any of the above things are valid to you then you should consider getting OpenX Source and installing it on your hosting account.

How to Get OpenX Source?

As we’ve said, OpenX Source is a free, open-source platform. You can get it at http://www.openx.com/publisher/open-source-ad-server.

Keep in mind that the archive is rather big, so it will take a while to download it.

Once you have it on your computer you can extract the archive and upload it to your hosting account through FTP. The next step is the online installation. You can set a sub-domain for your OpenX installation or place it in a directory of your current domain … your choice.

When you navigate to the URL address you’ve set you’ll be taken through the online installation process. After a while, you’ll be able to start working with your own advertising platform.

OpenX has a bit of a learning curve, so it will take a while before you get a hang of all the features and possibilities, but it’s well worth the effort. The sole fact that the platform is available for free is a big shocker. This isn’t the standard in today’s world of affiliate tools.

Feel free to let us know what your opinion is. Do you think that OpenX can improve your affiliate site and make you more money from advertising? Do you even display ads on your sites, and if so, who provides them?