Medium launches advertising

Medium, the blog publishing platform created by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, has launched its first advertising product, with BMW the first advertiser.

Medium Reform
BMW is Medium’s first advertiser.

BMW has paid to sponsor a collection of posts on the site about design, dubbed “Reform”, for an initial six-month period.

“Presented by BMW” appears next to the title of the collection, and videos from the car marque will appear at the bottom of each article.

Medium’s in-house editors will create a handful of articles about BMW, which will be marked as sponsored and appear alongside other design-led articles in the collection.

Currently Medium has no sales staff and has instead brokered the deal with BMW’s media agency Universal McCann through third party company

Evan Hansen, senior editor at Medium, told Marketing Week that the company is open to extending advertising formats beyond sponsoring collections.

He adds: “We have had a lot of interest from brands and we’re having a lot of discussions. Using collections like this is an obvious step and we’re open to taking on sponsors for others, including the tech and music verticals.

“This is just one potential execution, we’re at the exploratory stage so I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point. Primarily we want to do things that feel authentic to Medium and move the industry to a better place.”

Rather than charging on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per mille (CPM) level, BMW is being guaranteed on the total amount of minutes spent reading stories on Reform over the six-month period.

Hansen says: “We think time spent reading is a very promising new metric for valuing content online. We’ve developed some sophisticated tools for tracking active reading, which we call total time reading or TTR.

“We’ve learnt very quickly that rewarding TTR over clicks or unique visits changes the kind of content that gets made and shared – not just longer posts, thought there is that, but engaging and engrossing posts that are widely distributed and deeply read.”

Medium has already had discussions with UK-based agencies, although it has no further partnerships to announce currently.

The platform attracted 9 million unique global visitors to its site in June, according to comScore data. Medium claims a third of its traffic comes from outside the US.

Beyond paid-for advertising, Hansen says Medium is an attractive offering to brands because it puts stories “front and centre in a calm reading environment that encourages engagement”.

He adds: “We allow brands to build their own organic followers on site, so they don’t have to rely on renting an audience from publishers. And we provide an important context shift: by mixing all of the content on the site and allowing every post to compete on its own merits, brands can reach their audience more effectively than they would in a corporate blog silo or a branded microsite.”