Those that have used Medium (300,000 have published there) know it to be a slick and enjoyable tool.
But now Medium has decided it’s a platform and not just a social network for writers.
So, what should marketers know about Medium?
1. It might kill the website
Before you tut at my hyperbole, let me qualify it.
Medium itself lists one of the main virtues of using its platform as the ability to operate without a tech team.
Think of the ease of WordPress but amplified – no need to host anything, no need to tinker with plug-ins – the ease of use of a social network but for longer form publishing.
Pacific Standard has moved to Medium.
2. It offers discoverability..
It’s not just elegance of set-up that makes Medium an improvement on the website for small- and medium-scale publishing.
Firstly, Medium’s development of greater social context in late 2015 gives publishers a better chance at being discovered.
Mentions are used to notify Medium users cited in stories, and a recommendation feature surfaces posts based on who you follow.
This level of context augments an already strong integration (for obvious reasons) with Twitter.
As Ev Williams puts it
…there’s no doubt that something published on Medium has a higher likelihood to find an audience than the same thing published on an untrafficked island on the web.
3. ..and an escape from banner ads
One of the reasons that smaller websites are struggling at the moment, outside of discoverability, is poor UX.
The display ad model is bringing in too little revenue for many whilst also disrupting the reading experience.
Medium will offer to ability to develop partnerships with advertisers, without a single banner ad.
4. It looks consistently great
Websites on Medium look great, if a little too consistent.
Personally, having looked at a lot of blogs in my time, I don’t find the current lack of diversity in design that distressing.
All articles have that crisp and readable Medium typography, and home- and category pages are very clear with a simple header menu.
Of course, many publishers will bemoan that they can’t add more of their personality (i.e. annoying pop-ups) but looking at the sites that have already gone live (there’s a list further down this piece), there are many differences in tile layout and of course palette.
Those People has moved to Medium.
5. It’s a sensible choice for a corporate blog or nonprofit site
Ev Williams told Forbes that the “most popular use of the publications feature is a corporate blog or nonprofit site.”
At the moment, some mid-sized publishers may not feel they know enough about Medium to make the leap.
But many corporates with struggling blogs on microsites may feel now is the time to unburden themselves onto a platform, much as Nestle did with Tumblr.
6. But remember, it’s not open source
Of course, Medium is a platform, a walled garden. It’s not a WordPress.
This excerpt from an Ev Williams interview with Forbes shows exactly what that means:
Battelle: ”I’m building a new publication now (Newco). What happens when I work with Medium and I’m working with P&G and they want to show a big picture (ad). Is that cool or not cool?”
Williams: ”That’s fine. You can do this today.”
Battelle: ”Then P&G because they’re really big… they want to put a little bit of tracking code behind that picture so they can avoid showing the ad to someone on Facebook who’s already seen it. And so on… Are you going to say no?”
Williams: ”TBD. Definitely today you cannot put that on. But we understand the dilemma of you and P&G.”
This isn’t conclusive. Medium will undoubtedly work to help publishers attribute revenue to their Medium sites, but it has ultimate control over how this happens and will no doubt productise its own solutions.
We’ve all been warned of the dangers of a walled garden, but if Medium offers eyeballs, reduced overheads and revenue opportunities, the benefits for many well outweigh the risks.
Signal vs. Noise has moved to Medium.
7. The Medium ad model is native
Promoted Stories will be the norm for publications on Medium that want to make ad revenue.
These are essentially contextual articles written by brand partners (currently Bose, SoFi, Nest, Intel, and Volpi Foods) that will appear amongst publisher posts.
Sponsored content will appear, too. For example, NewCo Story is currently presented by Adobe.
A Promoted Story
8. Paywalls can be implemented
This is in beta and is described as ‘member-supported publishing’.
Effectively readers will be encouraged to pay a monthly fee and will get some form of exclusive content. The implication is that hard paywalls aren’t currently in consideration.
9. Total time reading (TTR) is an important metric
Medium used to talk about this metric as the only one that mattered. In the past months, it has moved away from this stance slightly, as it becomes less of a publisher and more of a platform.
However, Medium’s advertising info still mentions TTR as a metric that will influence revenue share for publishers:
Medium shares Promoted Stories revenue with publishers based on total time reading
Electric Literature has moved to Medium.
10. These sites are live
Since April 5th, 10+ publications have made the switch.
- Electric Lit
- Pacific Standard
- The Bold Italic
- The Billfold
- NewCo Shift
- The Twitch Blog
- Signal vs. Noise
- Those People
- Monday Note
- The Black List
- Film School Rejects
New offshoots of Time Inc. magazines Money and Fortune, The Ringer and many others are following.
Sites can be migrated from WordPress to Medium already.