A Follow Up on ‘Medium shifts direction, away from ads and towards… what, exactly?’

Ev Williams announced Medium will be launching a consumer subscription product, as could be inferred from the statements he made in ‘Renewing Medium’s Focus’, when he explained why he was laying off something like 50 staff from the company. He said that the advertising model wasn’t working, and it seemed clear that some other approach would have to take centerstage, but until now he hadn’t made it clear what that would be.

It will be interesting to see how this subscription approach plays out, but I am eager to see how Medium tries to realize such a model.

In this tweet, Matthew Ball (of Amazon) captured Williams talking about rolling this out in Q1 2017.

The obvious question: will readers pay?

Publications like The Information are making this model work, but can it scale to thousands — or millions — of individual writers and publications?

It’s not a complete answer to that question, but I certainly believe that having a platform that builds in all the affordances for reader subscriptions will certainly help. And it makes me wonder how much of what Medium has held back from publishers — like richer opportunities for customization of layout, and restricting ways to monetize what’s on the page — will have to be relaxed or offered up in other ways. On the other side, those paying for subscriptions might want the ability to control more of their experience, like being able to see exactly who they want to follow in their ‘For You’ feed, and not what Medium’s not-particularly-clueful algorithm serves up.

I’m ready to try whatever comes, however.

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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