You have probably read the recent post from Ev Williams, here is an excerpt:
The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse…
So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people. And toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day.
Laying off 50 workers is just a terrible day, as I have found, life at startups can be difficult and stressful. Medium is more fortunate than other business’ in that you rarely have the opportunity extemporize and course correct in the fundamental way that Ev seems to be indicating.
So if the fundamental problem is the ad driven model the only countervailing option I can think of involves persuading users to subscribe to your service.
Convincing TV owners already receiving free over the air content to purchase additional services (cable) was relatively easy because cable offered unique and compelling content that was less convenient to obtain elsewhere. In contrast there are only a few news outlets that I am willing to directly pay for, none of them include bloggers that do not work directly for a media corporation. What I may be willing to do is pay a monthly subscription for a la carte content, kind of like the subscription options offered by Sling TV (Orange, blue, etc.).
This feels unlikely because it requires many outlets to cede control to another layer or platform (like Facebook), and as many companies have found, these types of concessions provide fruitful ground for disruption.