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Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Washington Post on Tuesday will unveil Zeus Prime, a product that will allow companies to buy automated ads in real-time, similar to Big Tech platforms. Zeus will also support a new ad network that will include other publishers.

Why it matters: Advertisers often complain that they would like a better alternative to buying ads on Google and Facebook — where the content isn't always vetted — but there are no other places where they can buy ads as quickly and efficiently in real-time. The Post hopes this product will change that, and put more ad money in publishers' pockets.

The product will allow publishers to open their ad space to marketers directly through a real-time buying tool, similar to what Google and Facebook offer, across the network of publishers' websites and apps.

  • Because the new software requires very minimal input from the advertiser — no additional design, coding, fees or approvals are required — advertisers can place their ads directly on publishers websites in real-time, which is not typical.
  • The tool will first be available for DC, local-based advertisers, says Joy Robins, Chief Revenue Officer at The Washington Post. "As more publishers license the technology, that pool of available ad inventory will eventually grow nationally across many publishers' sites," Robins says. 

Yes, but: While a publisher can choose to license Zeus Prime as a standalone product, if it wishes to join the ad network that The Post is building, it needs to license all three of The Post's commercial software products, including Zeus Insights, The Post's first-party data tool that is used for ad-targeting, and Zeus Performance, its advertising performance tool.

  • "There is no end-to-end solution for publishers to grow their advertising revenue," says Jarrod Dicker, The Post’s VP of Commercial Technology and Development. "Zeus gives publishers the opportunity to license a shared technology stack, and have full control over their revenue and the technology powering it. It empowers them to become less dependent on revenue platforms like Google and Facebook."  

By the numbers: According to Dicker, the cost to license the software will vary by client, but right now clients are "at the low volume range, half million annually and at the high range, in the millions."

  • As a result, Robins says the revenue that will be generated from the Zeus Prime product will be significant. "We're shooting for eight-figures," Robins told Axios. 

Be smart: Buying and selling automated ads on websites and apps for premium web publishers has been a major technology challenge for years, and it's part of the reason that Google and Facebook have been able to grow their ad businesses so big and so fast.

  • In the past, advertisers had to use third-party vendors which are often owned or influenced by Google or Facebook. Those vendors often took a large cut of the ad money.
  • This tech allows publishers to cut third-party ad tech vendors out of their supply chains, so that they can take a much higher cut of the revenue.

Case-in-point: Dicker thinks that Zeus Prime will enable publishers to earn revenue at a rate of more than $10 minimum CPM (the cost per every 1,000 impressions), as opposed to the roughly $2 minimum CPM that publishers sell ads at right now, using outside vendors.

  • "Advertising today for publishers is on opposite ends, it's either very premium for custom experiences or very cheap for audience targeting," says Dicker. "We want to bring demand back to the middle. If we do that, we'll be bringing an entirely new revenue opportunity for publishers to band together and really take on Big Tech companies." 

The big picture: Publishers are investing more in developing their own advertising and publishing software as a way to make more money.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”