Medium provides the first clear sign!
Thoughts on the broken ad-model that funds the internet
When I sat down just before Christmas and pencilled my prediction for 2017 about the media landscape finally swinging back towards quality, it was one of those situations where it felt deeply right in my heart to put on paper, but slightly counter intuitive to my rational brain. Are you just being a print romantic? Is there really appetite for genuine change in online media?
What I hadn’t quite anticipated was that the first major indication was to come this early on in the year. Good extended version too. Thanks for providing the first tiny signs of light Ev Williams and M.G. Siegler.
I appreciate that for the involved employees and the management at Medium it comes with the very real pain of correcting course, but taking a stand and sticking to a course is in my view the only way to impact many more lives in the long term. The fundamental problem with page views is and remains that they treat all content as equal. They are devoid of the aspirations, dreams and goals that complete us.
Humanity reduced to eyeballs and statistics.
Where is the new scarcity? It is human attention. We all have 24 hours in the day and we need to work, eat and sleep. That puts a hard limit on how much human attention exists. At the same time digital technologies are producing unprecedented amounts of information that we could pay attention to.
This is not to say advertising is inherently bad or will go away. Like anything in the world there is of course plenty of nuance. But in any normal market the value of an increasingly scarce resource will inevitably go up over time. Attention will be increasingly hard currency and my prediction is that many aspirational consumers will start to drive a harder bargain over theirs.
Looking around the digital and offline landscape, publishing actually still lives and breathes. Many new and exciting content businesses are popping up all over the world in these years. Vertical, specialist, professional and knowledge publishing are all showing healthy signs with premium models!