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openx teamAd company OpenX is announcing a new ad server for publishers today that it says leaves competitors like Google’s DoubleClick far behind.

Chief revenue officer Jason Fairchild said that while he previously considered OpenX’s ad server “on par” with the competition, it was mainly distinguished by the fact that it was open source until now.

“Our value proposition was largely that, hey, instead of paying DoubleClick or one of the other guys, we’re going to give it to you basically for free,” he said.

But the latest version of the company’s ad serving product, OpenX Enterprise, tackles one of the big challenges that publishers face when trying to make money, Fairchild said. Right now, they’re likely to manage different ads on different services, say with exclusive campaigns running on a traditional ad server and another service managing ads sold through real-time bidding (for example through the OpenX Market). That means a publisher can never take a holistic view of how to make the most money from all its ad inventory at a given moment.

With the new server, all of those ad channels are managed from a single service, reducing inefficiency while still giving publishers control over ad quality and pricing, Fairchild said. OpenX also says it’s uncluttering the process with a simpler interface and workflow and with far fewer ad tags than is standard. OpenX also wants to allow publishers to be smarter about placing the most lucrative ad by combining their own data with data from third parties.

OpenX has already signed up some big customers, including group-buying site Groupon (which uses OpenX to serve the ads in its daily deal emails), Orange-France Telecom (OpenX previously partnered with Orange to expand its presence in Europe), and the Japanese arm of Web publisher Excite.

Los Angeles-based OpenX has now raised a total of $30.8 million from Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Mangrove Capital, First Round Capital, DAG Ventures, and former AOL chief executive, Jonathan Miller, the company’s chairman.

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