Advertising has a knack of polarising opinions. People either love it or hate it. Personally, I don’t mind even sharing my data as it paid off once big time. That was when Google sent me a late night message saying my 5am flight was leaving in a few hours. I was somehow under the impression that the same flight was leaving at 5pm. Ever since, I have been a lot more open minded about Google (Facebook is another story).
As for ‘ads vs paywall’ argument, I’m now behind the Medium paywall, and can empathise with the other writers out here. How messed up is it when dedicated writers on Medium don’t have access to the whole site?
Medium claims it’s difficult to pay writers outside their charmed circle. But it’s not too hard to work out some system by which Medium can compensate them. My simple suggestion was Medium track the number of claps a writer receives, and when it becomes equivalent to the $5 membership fee, they should give that writer full access to site. I have a feeling that would have covered most of the writers. The paywall would still have been up and Medium would still get a decent income from it.
On hindsight, advertising was any day preferable to the paywall. There should indeed have been an open discussion with the Medium community before putting up the paywall. There are so many levels of advertising and something could have been worked out. I think most people would be okay with something like the ‘Duck Duck Go’ model which doesn’t collect your data, but dishes out ads based on the key words that you search for.
If there’s a will, there’s a way. But I don’t think there’s a will at Medium. What is there is greed. Sad.