Blue moon: Medium is getting serious about monetization

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Trendy blogging platform provider Medium (A Medium Corporation) looks set to finally adopt a business model and bring in much need revenue, after its founder said in an interview they were looking at monetization.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Evan Williams told the BBC in an interview “we’re building monetization into the product right now,” before noting that some of the monetization options would be available as soon as this month.

On what form the monetization will take Willams wasn’t clear, saying only that “we’re not limiting ourselves to advertising,” before saying that Medium won’t become a mess of banner ads but instead “sponsored” content.

““I think there are ways to [run ads] that are respectful to the user experience and privacy … I also think there’s a lot of potential for premium or subscription or even user-paid content. Some sort of paywall or membership,” he said.

The decision to adopt a serious monetization plan for the increasingly popular platform follows Medium raising $57 million Series B in September. As we noted at the time, their only attempt to make money to that point was through the sale of “native content,” that is a form of advertising that is presented as editorial content so as to not look like an ad.

Ads

There’s a decent enough argument that display advertising is in decline, particularly given the rise of ad blockers, but what’s forgotten is that no one has quite come up with a superior model to monetize otherwise free services.

“Native advertising” (as mentioned above) has become a popular alternative for online publications but is also facing a serious backlash and rightly so; where there is no clear line between editorial and advertising online publications run the risk of turning into Buzzfeed or even worse still Mashable.

Subscription, pay-per-article and various similar models have been tried, particularly by the mainstream media, and have met with only a little success; ultimately if you put up a paywall the result is you swap revenue for traffic, and if your ultimate aim is to be read, and indeed respected, by many, this form of monetization works against that.

There’s no easy answer as to the best way Medium should monetize itself, but credit where it is due: at least they’re now currently thinking about how to, and even building the tools to do so.

Image credit: maile/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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