Ryan Duffy
           

Action Items
Podcast and TikTok brand





Overview         Action Items is a business-focused media property launched as a proof of concept for a Medium-owned podcast network and expansion into short-form video content. 


Roles     Product manager  Strategy Identity Design  Video content  Audio content  Editorial  Social 


Podcast network        Problem“How can Medium become a player in audio?” This is the question I asked myself when I joined the company following its acquisition of Knowable in 2021. While Medium unfortunately missed the wave of the late 2010s podcast boom, I still saw an opportunity. 

SolutionMedium was perfectly positioned to leverage its massive distribution to establish a podcast network that delivered value on three fronts: to its creators via tools and services, to its users via a new format of high-quality content, and to its core business via new revenue streams and higher conversion rates:

  • Revenue: While Medium is an ad-free platform, free-to-listen podcasts distributed off-platform (via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.) could be monetized via sponsorships without breaking a core brand promise. 
  • Subscription product value: Ad-free access to Medium podcasts behind the paywall would enhance the value of our subscription offering, convert more users, and increase time spent in the app. 
  • Subscriber acquisition: House ads for Medium’s paid subscription product could be placed on every episode distributed via third-party platforms. Why buy podcast ads when you can own the podcasts? 
  • Creator acquisition and retention: White-glove distirbution, sponsorship, and (in select cases) production services would be a valuable differentiator when seeking to acquire and retain top creators.




Short-form video
 
ProblemMedium is one of the only subscription media products of its size without a short-form video strategy. As audiences spend more time on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, it curtails its reach and awareness by not having a presence on the platforms where attention increasingly aggregates. 

Solution Medium is a literal gold mine of interesting content. By repurposing high-quality, newsworthy, and authoritative stories into short-form videos, it has the potential to earn millions of organic impressions among new potential users while raising the profile of its best writers — a win-win. 


Proof of concept

I created Action Items, a business-focused podcast and short-form video sub-brand, as a proof of concept to demonstrate Medium’s potential as a podcast distributor and video content producer. My goal was to answer two questions: 

  • Can I leverage Medium’s powerful distribution to successfully fuel the growth of a new podcast outside of the app? 
  • Can I quickly and economically develop a winning short-form video formula that can be applied to Medium’s core brand?

Over a two-month period, I produced and shipped 12 original Action Items podcast episodes and 16 TikTok videos. The potential of both projects was quickly validated: 

  • 45k+ podcast downloads 
  • 3.5m+ TikTok views
  • 650k+ TikTok likes 
  • 6k+ TikTok followers 


Action Items TikTok



Action Items podcast    




Action Items brand 




Outcome

Despite promising early results for the Action Items podcast and TikTok, leadership declined to pursue either path for Medium’s core brand. Both were put on ice and Medium remains without a podcast or short-form video strategy. 

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