While Reddit may not yet be as much of an advertising boon as social brethren Twitter or Facebook is, a recent business move may very well grab them a seat at the table.
The site has confirmed that starting on August 4 it will offer a new ad system called Promoted User Posts. With it, marketers will be able to sponsor user generated posts through the platform, with their given consent, according to AdAge.
One example involves a user making an enlarged item based on a company product, like Taco Bell’s hot sauce packet—the fast food chain could then step in and make a deal to turn that into a sponsored post for the site. That, in turn, would allow it to be shown off on various parts of Reddit, including targeted audiences that would be ideal for said post.
Of course, Reddit is proceeding with caution, since its user base of 240 million isn’t fond of being hammered with promoted posts that stand out from the real content on the site.
“Reddit users don’t like being bullshitted,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman told AdAge. “Reddit is a platform where you can call people out on it. And a lot of traditional advertising feels like we’re being taken advantage of and nobody likes that. But when advertisers come with honest intentions we see a much higher level of engagement with the brand. We don’t see hostility and we have valuable connections.”
As part of the acceptance of promoted posts, users will get a lifetime of Reddit Gold, with a number of additional benefits included.
Strategists for Reddit are already hard at work teaming up with brands on the deal, including Coca-Cola and eBay; Proctor & Gamble has already confirmed that it will invest $300 million into advertising for Reddit.
Although not all Reddit users will be happy with the move, the company as a whole sees it as an opportunity to real in new revenue. “There are car enthusiasts on Reddit,” said Huffman. “Makeup addicts, people who discuss movies, books and video games where these commercial relationships are already developing with our users. It is not a stretch for the advertiser to come in here and engage with our audience.”
With the move, Huffman believes that Reddit will evolve out of its “teenage years” and become more popular than Facebook. “We are a developing company and we are taking this very seriously. We are learning to be adults here . . . Of course, Facebook and Reddit serve different needs for people. There will never be total overlap so I don’t think you have to choose one or the other. On Facebook, you have your real world identity and your friends, and that is important to people. But on Reddit you have all the other facets of your persona and you can talk about things you can’t talk about with your friends and family.”
Many companies have already taken advantage of the Reddit platform in the past, including the following:
The auto maker listed a thread on Reddit in 2014 asking what users would want from Amazon. It was an interesting move to help promote the company’s Versa Note vehicle, and one that paid off in spades with a number of creative responses, including “30 months of Reddit gold.”
The Commander In Chief utilized Reddit for a half hour virtual question and answer session in 2012. It was so popular in traffic that the site had to shut down temporarily, per the Washington Post. “Ask me anything”—also known as AMAs—are a favorite for public figures looking to use Reddit to connect with their fans.
A while back, Pitch Perfect starlet Anna Kendrick appeared in Glamour Magazine. To help promote the issue, the publication introduced a subreddit called “Shower Thoughts,” compiled of Kendrick’s thinkings. As a result, it gained quite an audience, between both the subreddit account and the separate video, filled with plenty of quandaries. For instance, “Does a frozen yogurt headache burn less calories than an ice cream headache?”
This small sample of previous examples have worked pretty well with just regular posts. One theme is clear, though: the set-up caters to Reddit’s unique audience.
We’ll now wait to see what promoted posts—and more elaborate marketing set-ups— can do for brands.