Free software used by Web sites to manage online ad campaigns, Openads, has received $5 million in initial funding, strengthening it to compete in the global market. Openads does ad-serving and then connects its customers to independent ad networks, as opposed to Google AdSense which provides an online hosted service offering both ad-serving and ad network functions.

Instead of charging up-front, Openads supplies hand-holding services to publishers, as well as more advanced services to bigger publishers. A big strength is its global distribution. Only 30 percent of customers come from the United States. The rest come from markets such as Poland, Brazil and Russia.

Openads makes money in part from referral fees that advertising networks pay it for connecting them to publishers who use its software. Customers include blog ad network Federated Media, Sun Microsystems Inc. and online music site Last.fm. Simplistically, Openads' ad-server technology competes with DoubleClick Inc. in the market for ad-serving services.

Even though Openads competes with DoubleClick, the latter focuses on high-end advertisers while Openads is aimed mostly at smaller customers that rely on multiple advertising networks to sign up advertisers, and according to the company, AdSense is the most popular advertising network among Openads customers.