OpenX vs DFP… which is better?

The Paper TodayRecently I lost a direct advertiser which led me to find new ways to monetize available ad spaces on my site. photo credit: Gamma-Ray Productions

The last few days, I’ve been busy trying out 2 hosted ad servers, OpenX and DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) for the purpose of displaying ads on this site.

If you’re wondering what ad servers are for, it’s basically used to help webmasters manage ads that are displayed on a website / blog.

Some ad server features include:

  • Manage ad delivery based on time period (For e.g. only show certain ads on weekdays only).
  • Tracking the number of impressions and clicks for a particular ad, so you know which ad performs best.
  • Displaying ads based on user’s location (For e.g., If a site visitor is from Japan, a Japan based ad is displayed).
  • Generate ad serving reports which can be shared with advertisers / clients.

Initially I gave DFP a try since it’s a product by Google but I had trouble understanding how to get it work.

Basically I didn’t have a good understanding of ad serving terminologies such as inventory, CPM, orders, placements, creatives, etc and so I gave OpenX a try instead.

OpenX has 3 versions:

  • OpenX Enterprise
  • OpenX Community Hosted and
  • OpenX Community Download (an open source  ad server)

I signed up for the OpenX Community Hosted as I was really interested to participate in the OpenX Market where it helps publishers like me to maximize revenue for our ad spaces.

Once I got approved to OpenX Community, I logged in and began trying out the features and eventually managed to host my very first ad via OpenX. I can say that the process of initially setting up everything from beginning till the end for a beginner like me was smoother than using DFP, which I gave up half way.

openX screenshot

But having hosted my ad using OpenX for 2 days, I decided to give DFP another try since I encountered some nagging problems with OpenX namely:

  • Occasionally unable to login because of a redirect loop (source)
  • 500 internal server error when trying to view statistics (source)
  • No ads from OpenX Marketplace was shown. Maybe my floor price was too high!
  • Someone reported this in the forum – Malware served with ads (source) This is the turning point for me! 🙁

Although the initial user experience with OpenX was great, I guess there are still some basic technical related issues which must be addressed by OpenX.

Imagine if an advertiser wants to know from me the number of impressions that the ad has served and I don’t have access to the stats, it can be really tough to explain to my client. I definitely need something more stable and ready for production.

And so I tried out DFP further and soon got the hang of setting up ads on my site.

DFP screenshot

At the moment 3 ad spots have been set up to serve in house ads (affiliates). When there are direct advertisers later who are ready and willing to place advertisements on my site, these ad spots are ready to be filled:

  • Top Right Full Banner (468 x 60)
  • Left Sidebar Button Banner (125 x 125)
  • Bottom Banner After Comments Section (335 x 280)

I’ve basically used DFP to serve ads on my site for several days already and so far I like:

  • The speed it takes to display ads (no delay)
  • The help section which provide valuable tips on setting up ads
  • The statistics / reports (I can easily see which ad spot is doing well)
  • Integration with Adwords so potential advertisers can bid to appear on my site / or contact me directly to place direct ads.
  • Most important, stability and ready for production ad serving!

I hope today’s post provide some insights for those who are planning to serve ads on a website. Any questions or comments, do let me know in the comment box below. I will try my best to provide answers and help.

As for OpenX vs DFP… which is better? Doubleclick for Publishers by Google is the clear winner for me! Full steam ahead!

About the author

Bob Lee

Hi! My name is Bob Lee and I’m a web developer / technical writer who specializes in developing and reviewing web applications. As an entrepreneur, blogger, developer, and tech enthusiast, I have been in this field for more than 10 years, and have been loving every minute of it.


  • Thanks for confirming this. OpenX was slowing down my site considerably, so now I just have to learn to use DFP cause I myself was confused with the setup. Btw your ad placement on this site is confusing… the ads within the article made it hard to read. Just a thought.

  • Hi Brad,

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

    I hope you find your way around DFP soon. So far it’s been working very well for me. Stats have been tracked accordingly and the speed of loading up the ads are acceptable. I believe we can rely on Google products.

    As for the ads within the article… I got your point. Thank you. Admin

  • Yea I figured it out with the help of a tutorial. It’s quite cumbersome honestly with my ad structure but I guess its necessary since advertisers are so picky. Also ads take quite a long time to come on stream but the loading time on the site is much better than OpenX Community. I considered running OpenX on my server but I think the long run it would cost me too much to maintain for the benefits.

  • Hello, thanks for the info.

    I have a question: How can i give access to a client to watch stats of his ad campaign?

    Thank you in advance for your help

  • Hi Thank-You for your review.

    I am currently shopping for adserver software and stuck on Openx at the moment. I do have it on my server but there is a lot of bad cons I have heard just from researching today.

    1) Was what you already mentioned regarding the malware.

    2) There level of service is absolutely terrible.

    3) For what I need which is basically a Publisher and Advertiser login so they can set up there own accounts and choose there own banners and running times (which seems really obvious to me to add that option by default, but I am not the computer genius so I don’t know), will cost about $150.

    4) TO fix all the errors of there own software such as correct metrics returned $100, add PayPal integration $80 and to add a bidding system is another $100. Thats $430!

    5) If I ever decide to upgrade it to display through Mjax…its only $1350 on sale! $1600 regular price!
    Source: and

    I do need a text / banner adserver for the niche market that I am in. One that will do all of that but will allow me to keep control of everything. I kinda liked the idea about advertising on a bigger network but its not necessary. I just need something to act like a mini google for one of my other sites. Does anyone know what software would be the best for this. Honestly I am not wanting to spend more than $150.


Leave a Comment

/* ]]> */