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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

Updated 2 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."