Jan 26, 2021 - Economy

Scoop: Washington Post adds video to its Zeus platform

Illustration of a clap board with The Washington Post written on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Washington Post will expand its performance software on Tuesday to add video to Zeus, its suite of ad placement and optimization tools.

Why it matters: The update brings the Post a step closer to an end-to-end platform for publishers and advertisers on the open web to compete for ad dollars with big tech firms like Google and Facebook.

Details: Zeus Video is supported by the Google News Initiative's (GNI) Sustainability Lab grant in partnership with YouTube.

  • GNI has issued the Post a grant in order to help build a sustainable ad platform for for video news. Video ads are especially important for local broadcast companies.

The product helps publishers improve their video ads using ad tech that makes them faster and more viewable, meaning they load better on a page. These improvements mean publishers can charge higher rates for their video inventory.

  • Zeus complements the Post's larger Arc Publishing unit. Arc provides publishing software for publishers, like content management systems. Zeus provides revenue technology tools for publishers on the open web.

Zeus now includes four components, which collectively allow publishers to sell ads, optimize their performance and measure it across one technology stack.

  1. Zeus Performance launched in 2019 to give publishers easy-to-use tools to optimize their advertising. ad performance tool.
  2. Zeus Video builds on Zeus Performance by adding video to the range of ad formats that publishers can sell through Zeus.
  3. Zeus Prime allows companies to buy automated ads in real-time, similar to Big Tech platforms.
  4. Zeus Insights is the Post's first-party data tool that is used for ad-targeting.

Be smart: Like Amazon, whose founder CEO owns the Washington Post, Zeus gets stronger as more publishers sign on, and collectively optimizes their ad performance based on shared insights.

  • "It's all connected through this software," says Jarrod Dicker, the Post's VP of commercial technology and development. "This is the Amazon Web Services element to the product that makes it unique."
  • The Zeus ad framework was intentionally built on the open web, not just because it helps to democratize shared insights, but because it makes it more privacy-friendly. Zeus relies on first-party data, instead of third-party data, which is being phased out of the ad ecosystem as regulators and consumers begin to make web privacy more seriously.

The big picture: As technology has evolved, it's become hard for many publishers, especially small, independent or local publishers to keep up.

  • Zeus has signed up over 125 publishers in just over a year, a remarkable feat considering the competitive ad tech ecosystem.
  • While Zeus is used by publishers of all sizes and focuses, it's recently inked partnerships with several local news brands, including the Seattle Times, McClatchy, the Dallas Morning News and others.

What's next: The Post will launch its full ad network in the second quarter of this year.

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