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Open source ad server systems are made to display advertisements on a website and can be used by one website or by a large repertoire of advertisers and publishers at once. There are typically several ads per page, especially if there are many publisher websites associated with the open source ad server, so the server must be able to handle a high number of impressions. To maximize the earnings of publishers, the server should be made so the best ads are displayed in hot zones. Along with the highest paying ads, the server should have an algorithm that understands how to target ads for users. Many people will be accessing the ad server, so a user access rights system will help limit security threats, and a strong community of user-based support is critical.
Open source programs, which freely provide their coding for anyone to use and modify, are typically not built by companies but by a single developer or a small team of developers. This means the strict quality guidelines sought by companies may not be present in open source programs. Would-be users should start by looking for open source programs that are as capable as professional software. These programs are not created for financial gain, so there may be no technical support, though a user can make up for this by finding a program with a dedicated user community whose members can help with any problems that arise.
An open source ad server is responsible for displaying ads on websites and, if the server has a large number of websites under its belt, then it has to be able to handle large impression requests. For example, if there are 10,000 websites using the ad server and each one has three ad units, then the server has to be able to generate 30,000 ad impressions for each hit. The best ad server will be able to handle at least 100,000 — if not 500,000 — ad impressions per second.
When advertisers bid on keyword ads, they expect to get a higher ad ranking if they pay more. To accommodate this, the best open source ad server should display the highest-paying ads in highly visible hot zones. This lets publishers and the administrator make more money, and the advertisers will get what they pay for.
Along with displaying ads according to their value, an open source ad server should have an algorithm that only places ads on websites with relevant keywords. For example, if someone has a website about airline reviews, then that website should contain ads about plane tickets and travel services. If the ad server shows ads for dishwashers or exercise balls, it is less likely that these ads will be clicked, because the website's audience is likely more interested in travel. The ad server must create relevant ads for the website, to keep publishers and advertisers happy.
Many people will create user accounts for an open source ad server and, if there are no user access settings, this can cause a security threat. The administrator must be able to give limited access to all users. This feature is paramount to ensuring the ad server’s security.