Medium’s Shameful Product Placement

Remember when you first created your Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Medium? In the beginning its pretty fun. You use it the way it’s supposed to be used. You connect with people, you share, you socialize. And then it becomes popular. And that’s when the businesses move in.

Seeing ads is only half the battle. Being just old enough to know life before the internet, I can say that it’s not a new phenomenon. If you get something for free, you put up with ads. It’s how Saturday morning cartoons led me to believe that cold cereal was actually an integral part of a complete breakfast.

Social media is different when businesses start calling themselves persons and attempt to blend in. Instead of an ad for Best Buy in a commercial break, suddenly it’s a Best Buy sitcom pretending to be a normal show.

Worse still, instead of someone genuinely liking a product, they ‘like’ it to enter some contest, or if they’re a celebrity, they’re paid to act like the product is a part of their everyday lives. (And they’re good at it.)

And for some reason it’s the ugliest on Medium. So many articles look like they’re going to be thoughtful remarks about a legitimate issue or technology, and then the bait and switch. Suddenly it’s an ad for some new app, service, or device. An article about the future of education turns into a launch for a product that is anything but.

Is this Medium’s revenue stream? You pay a premium for your promotional post to show up at the top of my feed so I might accidentally read some of it?

In other media, there’s some sort of disclaimer, like, by the way this is an ad, not a tv show or article. But not on Medium.

It’s disheartening.