Why Advertising on Reddit just might be Worth Taking Notice

What is Reddit Anyway?

That’s a question you might be asking right now. Maybe you’ve heard some teenagers mention it, or maybe you’ve even seen it featured on the news. Despite being the 4th most popular website in the US and the 8th most popular website in the entire world, many adults are unfamiliar with Reddit.

Reddit is an aggregate forum website. This means that anyone -- anyone -- can post content, and other users upvote or downvote its use and appeal. The more upvotes a post gets, the higher quality it is considered to be, and the more views it attracts. Reddit differs from other social media platforms in that users aren’t flooded by the stray thoughts and shared videos of everyone else in the world; instead, there are specific ‘subreddits,’ or categories of topics to which a user can assign himself. For example, Not the Onion delivers news headlines that are real but seem so ridiculous as to be confused with articles by The Onion. There are subreddits for everything: Game of Thrones, Colorblindness, Cute Animals…

Okay, but does anyone other than teens use it?

One particular subreddit of note is called ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA). On this feed, famous people such as Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Ann Coulter, Mark Hamill, Adam Savage, Sir David Attenborough, Stan Lee, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Al Gore, Bill Gates, and even Barack Obama (while sitting as president!) have been featured, allowing users to ask them questions to which they will respond.

Aside from providing direct access to some seriously famous people, there have even been instances in Reddit’s past where good deeds have been performed. Notably, a user posted a photo of his mother who was suffering from Alzheimer's. She had disappeared, and the user put the Reddit community on notice. Within a few hours, a fellow Reddit user had found the missing mom, and contacted the necessary people to get her back home.

And what has all this got to do with advertising?

Interestingly enough, Reddit recently changed the layout of its sponsored advertisements. For most of Reddit’s inception, one single ad would be featured at the top of each page, separated from the content and easy to scroll past without a glance. Now, they are integrated, native. Ads are mixed in with content in a seemingly random order, with multiple scattered across each page. Because it is suddenly much more difficult to distinguish between what is user-generated content and what is marketing, ads are now accruing clicks across the pages.

Another reason advertising on Reddit is particularly effective is due to something called ‘Promoted User Posts.’ Essentially, regular Reddit users (as well as Reddit influencers and trendsetters) have the ability to create a post that endorses a brand in some way. Then, if the post is successful, that brand can approach Reddit and pay to have the user’s post ‘promoted.’ This would feature the post in the prominent spot for advertising, but would look like a natural user-generated post. Just imagine, if a post was both a Promoted User Post and had lots of upvotes, the visibility would be remarkable!

Still seems risky. Has anyone notable successfully used Reddit to advertise?

As a matter of fact, yes! In 2017, Coca-Cola wanted to create excitement for its upcoming Super Bowl commercial. The NFL and Superhero subreddits were targeted, asking users to create a superhero mash-up. In just 4 days, the campaign received over 400 comments, 97% of which were positive, and which were 50% longer than other organic comments. Perhaps even more notable was the average time a user spent on the feed: 13 minutes! People can barely make it through a 90 second Facebook video, so a full 13 minutes is astounding! And almost a third of users returned to the feed multiple times. The campaign’s success is not an anomaly: Duracell and Toyota have had similar success stories regarding advertising on Reddit.

Is Reddit really worth it?

A recent study by Social Media Examiner found that 93% of marketers use social media to market their business, and 90% of marketers’ most pressing concern is social media engagement.

Eighty-two BILLION pages are viewed on Reddit each year. 58% of users are between the ages of 18-29, and 33% of users fall between ages 30-49. This means that a whopping 91% of users are within the key demographic market for the majority of businesses. The math is clear: Reddit provides an indispensable service in reaching target consumers. If nothing else, it’s at least worth the consideration.

David Valentine