Dec 7, 2022 - Technology

WaPo to discontinue ad tech arm Zeus as a standalone business

Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Washington Post will no longer operate its ad tech division, Zeus, as a standalone business, according to a note sent to employees Tuesday obtained by Axios. Most Zeus employees will be redirected to roles within The Post's ad sales department.

Why it matters: Folding Zeus into The Post's existing ad sales team ends its efforts to make money by licensing its ad tech software to other premium publishers.

Catch up quick: The Post created Zeus Prime, a software product it licensed to publishers that allowed companies to buy automated ads in real time, in 2019.

  • The rise of subscriptions and direct-to-consumer products — like newsletters and podcasts — as well as growing competition from other ad tech marketplaces, made it harder to scale the offering.

Details: The company will incubate the Zeus Prime technology to be used internally by The Post's own advertising team, according to the note. Its self-serve ad tools will now serve The Post's own ad tech clients.

  • Prior to these changes, Zeus existed as an independent division within The Post, reporting into both its tech and sales divisions.
  • Earlier this year, The Post sunsetted Zeus Performance, an ad optimization tool that was licensed to publishers, an early indicator that its licensing efforts were struggling.

Be smart: The company had planned to shift more energy into Zeus Prime after shuttering Zeus Performance, but an ad market slowdown made it difficult to continue growing Zeus Prime's network of premium publishers.

The big picture: The move comes as The Post struggles to figure out its ad tech strategy.

  • The company turned down sales offers last year for its content management system business, called ArcXP.
  • The Post's recently departed chief information officer Shailesh Prakash told Axios in June that the company was committed to the business.
  • On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that The Post may now be interested in spinning ArcXP off.
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