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A Medium-powered site will also be able to integrate with other platforms and services on the web like Facebook’s Instant Articles or the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP), a Google-backed open-source endeavor to help publishers with mobile. “Medium is an alternative to having an island on the web. It’s not an island to itself,” says Williams.

A Platform for Getting Paid

Medium for Publishers will be free to publications, offering them myriad ways to customize site design to support their brands. They’ll be able to migrate archives to the site and preserve their PageRank, the analysis algorithm Google uses to determine where a page falls in search results. Readers will be able to search sites independently, and they won’t need to be logged into the Medium network to read. Want to see what it looks like? Check out Billfold, a millennial finance site. In a December test, it moved 8,000 posts to Medium.


Medium will benefit because it will expand its network of readers, and it’ll take a cut of the revenues from the two sales strategies it will offer: Publishers can also opt in to host promoted posts, in which a brand sponsors a post on a Medium feed. This ad product launches in beta this week with five sponsors—Nest, SoFi, Bose, Intel and Volpi Foods. Medium will broker the deals and take a cut of the profits. The startup also plans to let publishers offer paid membership for members-only content and other perks. Readers will pay Medium directly (so potentially they can manage several memberships in one place), and Medium will take a small fee on each transaction.

Of course, in setting up shop on Medium, publishers are making a bet that Williams’ version of the future is right, and that Medium will continue to out-innovate competitors and provide its writers the very best publishing tools available. That’s a big bet for an 87-year-old brand like Fortune, say, to make on a three-and-a-half-year-old startup. Medium’s new product could prove to be a siren song: the false promise of a chance to preserve the legacy and quality and depth of the journalism we grew to love and respect before the Internet came along and disrupted it, while ensuring the people who create it get paid. But as the climate grows increasingly challenging for publishers on their own, Williams’ product also offers these publishers hope for a more promising future.

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