“We hope that as Medium builds out its advertising model, which is nascent, we end up in a much better place,” he said.
Business operations manager Jonathon Padron, who used to spend his time optimizing the ad stack and reading header-bidding documentation, shifted to selling sponsored posts through Medium. Credo Mobile, a carrier that donates money to social causes, and Aspiration Partners, which bills itself as “a financial firm with a conscience,” have run posts.
“It’s nice to have a conversation where you don’t feel like a commodity to the person on the other side,” Padron said. “In the lead-in to the conversation, you are talking about audience, brand equity and identity, and how that aligns with the advertiser, versus click-through rates and CPMs.”
Besides direct sales, ThinkProgress plans to experiment with Medium’s membership model next year. And it’s selling “Resist” T-shirts and allowing users to donate to its Trump Investigative Fund.
“We want to try to diversify the revenue streams and not have too many eggs in one basket,” Legum said.
ThinkProgress’ small staff and focus on quality journalism and user experience made it a strong fit for Medium, which aims to improve the user experience while helping sites monetize.
But Legum sees more midsize publishers approaching the same crossroads.
“There is always someone who can get someone to look at a website cheaper than you can,” Legum said. “We were looking for a way out, to grow our revenue and expand, but not create a bad experience for readers. You are going to see a lot of midsize publishers and smaller try to get out of that environment.”