The Washington Post today announced Zeus Prime, an automated way for advertisers to buy premium advertising against highly viewable inventory directly on The Washington Post in real-time. In a guest blog post, The Post’s VP of Commercial Technology and Development Jarrod Dicker introduces the first step in The Post’s plans to create a national ad network powered by a full stack revenue performance platform. The Zeus technology suite, while offered as a part of Arc Publishing, is available for any publisher on any content management system.

Introducing Zeus Prime

Here at The Washington Post, we believe the web deserves a better business model that rewards the content creators, not just the aggregators and platforms. Today, real-time buying and delivery is limited to the platforms. Publishers and individual content creators have little control over their revenue technology and monetization efforts. The industry demands a revenue performance platform that rewards original storytelling while providing an instant and transparent exchange of value between brands, publishers, and their readers.

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We believe it should be easy for publishers to build a premium environment for advertisers that doesn’t require heavy development and investment. For brands, our emphasis is on three pillars: scale, targeting and performance. For creators and publishers, our emphasis is on original premium content, user-friendly ad experiences, and transparent first-party targeting technologies. The combination of both brand and publisher priorities is at the heart of the Zeus technology suite: next generation targeting (Zeus Insights) and experience-driven performance (Zeus Performance), and trusted scale. These components allow both publishers and brands to remain operational and comfortable with their current offerings, while leaning into trends that will define the future of the media business.

Today, we’re excited to release the third product in that suite, Zeus Prime. Zeus Prime is an ad buying user interface, built in partnership with the buy-side demand platform Polar, that allows our Washington-based clients to purchase seamless, high-performing formats against inventory directly on The Washington Post in real-time. Throughout 2020, we will add additional local and national media companies to the network and look to make this tool available to advertisers large and small, forming a marketplace of trusted media properties for agencies and brands to buy directly into using the Zeus Technology Suite of products. We believe that local news can move beyond sustainability into profitability with state-of-the art tools to make buying, targeting and transacting more efficient.

Through Zeus Prime, buyers will be able to easily execute an ad campaign by creating an ad format in a single click and targeting across a marketplace of trusted publishers. Creating a campaign will take under one minute and can be launched within a day. Zeus Prime marries the value of programmatic (automated direct buying) with the value of direct (premium formats and premium inventory) in a trusted environment. We believe that through Zeus Prime, we are shepherding in the next era of advertising efficiency and effectiveness to media.

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Zeus Prime is efficient:

● A self-service platform for advertisers to buy premium formats against a premium audience on The Washington Post and, ultimately, across a premium national network

● Allows for on-demand, real-time deployment of advertising campaigns

● One-click creative, leverage existing assets

  • No design work needed (single URL)
  • No development work or coding
  • No additional approvals (all creative is existing in other channels/platforms)
  • No additional fees
  • No delayed launch

Zeus Prime is effective and across The Post’s premium network of partners:

● Premium inventory on demand, guaranteed to run on The Washington Post

● Mid-funnel solution that drives consideration, preference and interest at scale

● Seamless, familiar way of buying (similar to Google and Facebook) in trusted, premium news environments

● Allows advertisers to target using the most scalable Zeus Insights topics

‘This time it’s different.’

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The industry has circled around the need for trusted brands to align with premium publishers forever. There has always been a rally cry to build an ecosystem that pulls everything together, but oftentimes ends in a stumble due to the fact that performance is just easier and cheaper on platforms at scale. However, this time it’s different. Enabling brands to execute automated direct campaigns on premium publisher content has become increasingly important over the past few months. A recent survey by Signs.com found that trust in advertising on social media platforms is increasingly low, with average trust for Facebook ads registering at only 23 percent. Additionally, a study by IAS reported that readers found advertising on premium publishers 74 percent more likeable, 20 percent more engaging, and +30 percent more memorable when compared to viewing the same ad on lower quality sites. With Zeus Prime, advertisers can leverage the real-time benefit of social with the brand favorability benefits of aligning ads with premium content.

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And it’s not just about the performance stats. Brand awareness, identity and purpose is one of the most important investments companies need to make today. Now more than ever, it’s important for brands to have a direct connection with trusted content creators and publishers that guarantee brand safety and brand alignment, while contributing to a mission that’s critical to society. The advertising industry has been rightfully obsessed with scale, targeting and performance; that formula drives consumers down the funnel and, for many, achieves the value brands are looking to get in an advertising campaign. However, there are two things that get lost when premium isn’t front and center in a brand strategy: purpose and reputation. Over the past year, the advertising industry has pushed brands into an era of “no neutral, looking at reputation as profits and some Fortune 500 CEOs saying a company’s purpose shouldn’t just be about shareholder value but about supporting communities, employees and suppliers. The Zeus technology suite enables this connection with brands, bringing revenue back to publishers, through an ecosystem that demands premium performance, highly-targeted data capabilities and seamlessness in buying across the board.

We partnered with Polar to build Zeus Prime given their deep experience with ad innovation, shared vision for a trusted alternative to platforms and proven technology having worked with 100s of trusted publishers globally. At launch, Zeus Prime is available for Washington-based advertisers on The Washington Post and will be rolled out in the Zeus technology suite of products through Arc Publishing for other media companies in 2020. Interested advertisers can visit here to request access to Zeus Prime today. Zeus Performance and Zeus Insights partners will have first access to any future updates and feature enhancements and the opportunity to become part of a premium media network. Interested partners can send a note to zeus@washpost.com.

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