The model is more or less a standard ad auction format: publishers set a minimum, potential advertisers bid, and the highest bid wins. Plenty of platform-oriented start-ups are turning to the exchange or auction format to simplify and speed up the online ad buying process, but OpenX is worth a second look because of its roots in open-source software.
The OpenX software itself is free, but the platform is a way for the company to make a buck or two off it. Up till this point, the company has made money primarily off of service and consulting fees.
"Historically, the online advertising market has been fractured, opaque, hard to participate in and therefore inefficient." OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan said in a release. "In particular, mid-sized and smaller publishers lack the ability to reach a broad set of advertisers. Conversely, advertisers see lots of value in niche sites and audiences, but find it very hard to discover and buy those sites and audiences...The OpenX Market is all about making these connections simple, seamless and scalable."
The company has also issued an update to its ad server software--used by over 150,000 sites that pull in 300 billion monthly ad impressions--so that it integrates with the new OpenX Market.