It was two years ago that Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone launched Medium. The platform has experienced variable traffic numbers, from below 1 million to close to 3 million uniques a month, according to comScore multiplatform stats.
But the business model must be worth expanding. Now Medium is launching “Gone,” a travel vertical, in cahoots with Marriott International.
“This is the second vertical that Medium has launched with an advertiser, the first being its six-month pact with BMW on design-focused Re:form, which was launched over the summer,” noted Digiday.
The model is an amalgam of native advertising as well as paid sponsorships.
“The plan is for Medium to publish 60 stories over four months,”explained Digiday. “Five of the pieces will loosely be about Marriott and identified as being published by Marriott. The rest will be produced by Medium, which hired Jamie Pallot, a seasoned editor whose editorial credits include Style.com and Condé Nast Digital, as Gone’s editor-in-chief.”
The vertical indicates an effort by Medium and other publishers to “replace clicks with more meaningful metrics.”
Interestingly, Medium is guaranteeing Marriott an aggregate amount of time consumers will spend at the site. Marriott, in turn, is paying the production costs associated with the articles (a big percentage from unpaid contributors) and plans to employ social networking platforms to promote the content.
Could it work? Medium’s Edward Lichty, in charge of corporate development and strategy at Medium, said he’s “bullish on the time-spent model, noting that in the case of BMW, Medium has delivered more than twice the time spent than it promised.”
“At least for now, this kind of partnership is how we see ourselves working with brands,” Lichty said. He added that Medium is also considering having brands sponsor articles in Medium’s existing verticals. “This is the way we think we can support publishers and writers.”
Marriott seems pleased so far.
“It’s not as big as some publishers, but (Medium) stands out because of the depth of its writing,” explained David Beebe, vice president of creative and content marketing for Marriott. “It’s got great contributors, the ability to present content in many formats. And it’s around time engaged. There’s no banner ads, there’s nothing interrupting you. It allows us to build a deeper relationship with the reader.”