One important component of selling and displaying ads on a website is the underlying ad serving technology. For small publishers, which I define as those with less than 10 million monthly pageviews, there are very few options that combine fast ad delivery, configurability of ad units, and affordable implementation. OpenX is one of the more popular open source choices, which requires your own ad server to implement, unless you use their network implementation. We use Google’s DFP at Lockergnome, which I’ve tested extensively on my own site, JakeLudington.com, as well. DFP is free for up to 90 million pageviews per month. Using DFP also gets you access to the buyers who place ads through DoubleClick. That’s a really tough one-two punch for any competitor to go after. Adzerk, an ad serving company that presented at Lauch, seems to think they have a shot at taking marketshare from places like DFP.

Adzerk ad server Adzerk is focused on the three core components of ad serving. Adzerk promises to serve ads quickly and stay out of the way of page load times, presumably using asynchronous JavaScript. Adzerk offers a massive degree of configurability, allowing what they termed to be unlimited variables for serving ads. And Adzerk is reasonably priced at $0.05 per 1000 impressions, with lower costs as you increase volume. While that’s great, as a publisher, I don’t see why I need to pay $0.05 per 1000 impressions for the same features I get free from DFP, especially because I don’t get access to the DoubleClick market of ad buyers using Adzerk.

When I questioned Adzerk about how they adress competition from DFP, they indicated they are targeting sites with 100 million pageviews or greater. There just aren’t very many sites that meet that criteria and those that do aren’t exactly shopping for a new ad server. Some names on the list of sites that meet that 100 million mark: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Wikipedia, AOL, and Yahoo. Yes, there are smaller sites with 100 million monthly pageviews, but most of them are using DoubleClick because it’s robust.

Adzerk is currently used by stackoverflow.com and statsheet.com. Statsheet.com appears to have less traffic than my own blog. Stackoverflow.com gets more than 80 million pageviews monthly, which is nearing the DFP threshold, so Adzerk has tested against a fairly large traffic site. [Note: I had previously incorrectly stated that StackOverflow has 15 million monthly pageviews]

The one place Adzerk might have a leg up on DFP is ease of use. DFP has a frustrating learning curve that makes adding variables to an ad unit frustrating. Adzerk appears to simplify this process. Simplicity may be where Adzerk has a shot at market share.

Maybe I’ll be wrong and Adzerk will be the next big thing in ad serving technology, but to me it looks more like a niche business that will make a nice profit but won’t revolutionize the ad serving world.