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We Now Know Ads Won’t Be Coming to Medium, But That Raises Another Interesting Question

Big plans!


We know it crystal clear now. Ads won’t be coming to Medium. At least not in the foreseeable future.

How do we know?

Tony Stubblebine directly answered a Twitter thread I responded to as well. This thread indeed looked like ads were coming initially.

But Tony with a quick and unmistakable: “No ads.”

Bummer, you might think. Money for external views (through ads) is high up on many Medium writers’ wishlists these days.

I’ll tell you why I’m still excited and why should be too.


Ads aren’t the big plan for external view compensation

Let’s back up.

Medium’s staff including Tony recently had a company retreat. Tony wrote a piece about that experience.

Among the topics discussed during this retreat (I can’t find the tweet that mentioned those topics anymore), were plans to elevate publications again, maybe even compensating publication owners and editors. Furthermore, distribution was a talking point, and yes, compensation for external views as well.

External views are a big topic for Tony and the team as they not only impact the writers, but they can also lead to new Medium members and therefore more money for Medium.

But if ads are not the solution to compensate for external views, what is?


Possible scenarios

It’s hard to speculate. I hope Medium is truly working on a solution for writers and readers alike.

Possible ways to go are:

  1. The Vocal model, i.e., simply paying a set amount of money per external view or read. Vocal had a rate of $3.80 for 1000 views the last time I checked. Not exactly magical, but it’s a start.
  2. A restructuring of the referral model. Referrals are one way to reward writers for bringing in external views that lead to new Medium memberships. Maybe there is a way to work views and reads into those numbers. I am not sure how, though.
  3. Something new. Medium could be working on an entirely different approach to content monetization.

The bottom line

No ads.

But we might see a new way to earn money on Medium soon. A way to make external views count. And hereby critically raising the importance of SEO-friendly content and high search traffic.

What do you think?

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