Money & Business

Friday Buzz: Medium Turns the Page on Advertising

By / Jan 6, 2017 (Medium screenshot)

The distributed content-sharing platform Medium is moving away from advertising altogether. Why? Founder Ev Williams says the model doesn’t work for publishing. Also: This article features a surfing dog.

Is advertising a “broken system”?

That’s what Ev Williams—a founder of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger—says. This week, Williams announced he was making significant changes to Medium, claiming that the service wasn’t going to work by leaning into the traditional advertising system. The relevant passage:

Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for—directly or indirectly—by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get … well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.

So Williams is rejiggering the company to figure out new business models for content, in hopes of finding a new way of making money for writers online that eschews the ad industry entirely.

(He also announced 50 layoffs and the closure of two satellite offices, which is tough.)

The shift, however, could prove tough for publishers that took a bet on the platform. Staffers at ThinkProgress, a liberal news blog started by the nonprofit Center for American Progress Action Fund, spoke positively of Medium’s advertising model last month in comments to AdExchanger. The site’s editor-in-chief, Judd Legum, called on Medium to increase its advertising offerings. Clearly, that’s not happening, though the blog says it plans to more aggressively use the platform’s membership model next year.

Whatever happens with Medium—whether it sinks or swims—it will nonetheless be a compelling watch for those on the hunt for new revenue models.

A Moneymaking Dog

Not all dogs can surf, but charitable nonprofits should get to know the ones that can.

Nonprofit Quarterly highlights the story of Ricochet, an adaptive surfing dog who helps surfers with disabilities catch a wave. She has become a huge hit for nonprofit audiences throughout the country. Ricochet, who initially was trained as a service dog, has raised $50for more than 250 charitable causes over the years. During New Year’s Eve alone, she raised $7,000.

That’s doggone impressive—and not just because of the surfing.

“One of the things that basic math tells us is that associations are in for a bit of a rough patch related to membership.” At her Get Me Spark blog, Elizabeth Weaver Engel breaks down the bigger lessons about young professionals from a recent Associations Now story.

A big shift in crowdfunding: On Friday, Indiegogo announced that it would allow for campaigns that combined both traditional perks and equity in the firms looking to get a leg up on the service. Could be an interesting model to watch.

Compelling entertainment to close out your week: Gizmodo highlights a livestream starring two Google Home devices in automated discussion. If this is what artificial intelligence looks like, maybe we have nothing to worry about.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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