Thanks for taking the time to write about this. I’m Medium’s Creative Lead for Brand Partnerships, and I wanted to clarify a few things:
1. Medium actually wasn’t involved in the sponsorship of Chris Messina’s post, which you’ve referenced above. Canon approached Chris directly, and he chose how to disclose the sponsorship.
2. That said, you raise a very valid point about Medium’s labeling of sponsored content. As of now, we feature pretty prominent labeling at the top of each piece of branded content. However, we don’t label such content in our daily emails or on the homepage. This is an issue we’re debating internally, and hope to have some direction on it soon.
3. The third part of this is what to do in cases in which a writer or a company uses Medium, which is an open platform, for some form of advertising. Chris’s story was, in fact, a great piece of content, which is why we chose to recommend it as a Medium Staff Pick. That’s the purpose of the Staff Picks account — it surfaces the best content on the site that may not have gotten picked up by your network. We tend not to distinguish between sponsored and non-sponsored content because good content is good content.
4. However, we recognize that it’s becoming increasingly important to distinguish Medium-led sponsorships from non-Medium sponsorships. One idea is to perhaps issue guidelines to writers and brands using our platform for native advertising. Again, something we’re aware of and hoping to come up with a good solve for.
Let me know if you have any thoughts/questions.