Best Ad Serving Platforms: DFP vs OpenX vs Others

Try an Ad Network Instead!

Selling display advertising on your own is often difficult and makes you less money than you could be making with an ad network.

Click the button below and find the best ad network for your needs - save time, make more money!​

Last updated: August 1st, 2016

For websites that make a significant portion of earnings from display ads, the choice of an ad platform can be a very important one. Ad platforms generally handle the entire process of serving display advertisements on a site, including the loading of individual ads and reporting on performance. So what are the best ad serving platforms? You’ll obviously want an ad platform that, among other things, is easy to use, provides flexibility for both direct campaigns and remnant monetization, delivers fast ad loads, and doesn’t have “hiccups” that can cause you to miss out out on revenue.

There are a number of ad platforms out there, including both free and paid options. Below are very brief overviews of six popular options, along with some links to more in-depth reviews. 

DFP by Google1. DFP Small Business

DFP, which was once known as DoubleClick for Publishers before being acquired by Google, is one of the most popular ad serving platforms out there. It integrates easily with AdSense, a major benefit for publishers who are selling some ads directly but monetizing remnant inventory through the Google ad network. Other networks can also be used as well.

Cost: Free!

Further Reading: Below are some additional resources for learning about DFP.

OpenX2. OpenX

OpenX is one of the most popular ad serving platforms, serving a number of large publisher clients. Similar to DFP’s integration with AdSense, OpenX also features an easy plug-in to a network of advertisers. That should be a very attractive feature if you’ll be relying on networks to fill any inventory you don’t sell directly.

Cost: OpenX is open source, so it’s also free to use.

Further Reading: Below are some additional resources for learning about OpenX.

Adcolt3. AdColt

This white label ad solution features allows for a number of different ad formats and several targeting options. AdColt also has a click fraud monitoring system and real-time reporting, and can accommodate in-line text ads, interstitial ads, and third party tags.

Cost: $0.02 CPM. This price is the same whether you’re serving one impression or 100 million a month. AdColt also doesn’t require a long-term contract; their services can be cancelled at any time.

Adzerk4. Adzerk

This ad platform features smooth native ad implementation and utilizes asynchronous ad codes in order to improve speed (many other ad servers also feature options for asynchronous ads).

Cost: Plans start at $1,000 per month for up to 10 million impressions. Additional impressions cost $0.02 per thousand. AdZerk offers a free 30-day trial and consultation for interested users.

Further Reading: Below are some additional resources for learning about Adzerk.

Broadstreet5. Broadstreet

Broadstreet is a smaller platform (they claim about 900 publishers) but might be worth a look for smaller sites. This platform features editable ads for advertisers, a feature that may be useful for small businesses who are regularly changing their messaging and promotions.

Cost: There’s a free trial version as well as paid products that range from a $0.01 to $0.05 CPM.

Further Reading: Below are some additional resources for learning about Broadstreet.

AdButler6. AdButler

AdButler has been around for more than a decade, and is used by more than 10,000 customers. Among the features they highlight are easy integration with other platforms (such as DFP and OpenX) and rich media ad support.

Cost: AdButler uses a flat monthly fee pricing model, starting at $11.95 for 50,000 impressions (a $0.24 CPM) up to $999.95 for 50 million impressions (a $0.02 CPM).

7. CPXCenter

CPXCenter is a bonus for you – to read more about them, read our full-blown review here: CPXCenter Review

Bottom Line

Picking out an ad server is a huge decision, in part because it becomes difficult to switch once you’re up and running with a particular platform. There’s no universally correct choice here; the best fit for your site depends on your exact monetization strategy. If your ad operations will be pretty straightforward, it’s tough to beat the price and Google integration of DFP. If, however, you’re looking to sell and implement more advanced features, it might be worth looking at some of the alternatives.


  • Paulo says:

    Hi everyone. I’m looking for an ad servers research related to buyer side (advertisers). Do you have any tip? Thanks!

  • Thanks John for the valuable feedback. Of course our list was inexhaustive and as there are so many players out there, it is impossible to cover them all. So while we can make recommendations, it is always up to the reader to do additional research, on top of the one we have provided.

  • John says:

    There are so many other adservers that could be used and are muuuuuch better than the ones from this article: AdForm, Sizmek, adition, epom, … We are using AdSpirit ( for all our sites: Integrated RTB, integrated Google AdSense API, Waterfall models + Passbacks for non-RTB clients, and a price MUCH below 0.02 CPM …

  • GSS says:

    You have gave the best tutorials for google DFP setup for selling ads.

    Thank You

  • Gerbrand Petersen says:

    Hello Andy,

    You were asking for an alternative to DFP, you could also consider
    They offer services for medium-sized publishers as you indicated, and their platform is quite easy to understand. If that doesn’t work out, you could also consider or


  • Sabrina Lem says:

    I’m looking for an ad server for publishers that is simple to use and is cost-effective/free.
    Any suggestions other than Google’s DFP? Thanks.

  • Vic says:

    Hey MonetizePros,

    I’m looking to create my own private ad serving network (where I sell the ad space on my site) with the ability for my advertisers to create editable ads per city. Which platform would you recommend for that situation? It seems like adbutler would work great for me!



  • Matina says:

    Thanks for the great article.
    1 question for you Michael Johnston: I am the least technical person. In fact I focus on content and social media linked to blogs, and I really hate geeky stuff; therefore I will avoid DPF…
    My guess is AdButler would be the easiest implementation. Do you second that ?
    Kind regards,

  • Sandeep Kumar says:

    I think media-net as also be included in this.

  • MonetizePros says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Be sure to let us know how you find OpenX!

  • Michelle says:

    We were using DFP until we discovered some technical problems with it. We will be trying Open X in a few days. I hope it works flawlessly 🙂

  • MonetizePros says:

    Hi Madelanne,

    We ended up using Broadstreet Ads!

  • Madelanne S says:

    Andy Hagans, which did you end up with,OpenX or Broadstreet?
    Katzgrau, given your email address, you seem to work for Broadstreet, and so were your comments/recommendations were for competition reason?

  • katzgrau says:

    If you’re thinking about OpenX, give Broadstreet a try. We built it as an alternative to OpenX, which has issues with speed and malware.

    Something we wrote about it:

    And hey, I’m always here if you have questions: [email protected]

  • Andy Hagans says:

    Since we’re having trouble signing up with DFP, we’re thinking about trying out OpenX or some of these alternatives, for our own ad serving platform. Will be interesting to see which platform is best for a medium-sized publisher.

  • >