Once upon a time, new technology disrupted the marketplace only once per Mad Men season. Today, it’s like once per commercial break. Every time you turn around, here comes another batch of nerds making it easier for people to do stuff and harder for marketing professionals to do their jobs.
On the one hand, you don’t have time to worry about the disruption potential of each new start-up platform generating buzz out there; but on the other hand, if you ignore the wrong platform, you could find yourself playing catch-up.
Which brings us to Medium, the new venture from Ev Williams, @ev, the co-founder of Blogger and Twitter - in short, the man who brought web publishing to the masses in simple but groundbreaking ways that disrupted the NSFW out of everything.
Medium, @Medium on Twitter, is a new kind of a social idea sharing, like Twitter can be on its best day, but without a 140-character limit, allowing for a more natural flow of ideas. Those individual posts are then organized into collections, which are then ranked based on an algorithm to produce internet magic. Get it?
Here’s a Medium collection of 178 posts of crazy stories called, “It Happened to Me.”
It’s like Tumblr but focused on written content instead of images. The metric that Williams has designed that sets Medium apart is “reads” instead of “views.” That is, Medium will try to determine how many people not just view the content, but how many read it to the end, how many share it, comment on it, interact with it. Quality over quantity, engagement over page views - or that’s the idea, anyway.
What does this mean for marketing professionals and the media business?
The good news is that Ev Williams is a businessman, not some idealist. Williams’s start-ups have all found a way to make money, and that’s good news for marketing executives.
In that sense, Medium could be much more than just another platform that turns a profit. Williams has an ambitious vision. He sees Medium, among other things, as a possible solution to the journalism business model, which is currently in a state of free-fall. Creating a sustainable economic model for journalism is something that Medium is “definitely going to experiment with,” Williams said at the Launch Festival.
The odds are good there will be native content opportunities, or other ideas for pairing user-generated content with marketing content that haven’t been thought up yet. Medium could pair content with ads based on keywords, or it could sell display ads, if Williams and his team find a new way to do it that doesn’t scare away the eyeballs. What we will see is some interesting innovation over the next year, and that's good for everyone.