Before getting into the meat and potatoes of this article, please take a moment to digest the following statement from Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian;
“Honest discussions from honest people about products and services now spread. Those are the things that tend to shape people’s opinions.”
There are at least two layers of comprehending this quote through an advertising lens.
Layer 1 – Ads with nothing to hide perform well
Layer 2 – Demonstrate the simplest thing; that you’re a human. Demonstrate outstanding customer service as an advertiser, provide real value, and cut the mind-numbing flack.
I made a point in my Reddit Beginner Tips article last month, suggesting we rethink our social strategy, deviating from the norms of Facebook and Twitter.
In the same vein, advertising on Reddit requires a shift in the way we create Facebook and Twitter ads.
The keyword here is influential.
In a DigiDay excerpt, Reddit’s General Manager, Erik Martin said;
“We’ve gained their trust because we don’t show crappy ads. There are people online that you can’t show ads on 99 percent of the sites out there, but you can show them ads on Reddit.” The point, according to Martin, is that Reddit users open themselves up to advertising while on the site because of the user friendly experience the company has created.
For example, the author H.A. Goodman developed an excellent reputation by utilizing the influential nature of Reddit ads. Here is an ad for one his books:
This ad received hundreds of comments – a positive mix of feedback, discussion, and light humor (a necessary life ingredient). Notice the unique and colorful tone of his ad headline.
How did it receive so many comments?
Because the ad creator (the author) followed up and responded to practically every comment with a substantial response.
H.A. Goodman has stated that his advertising experience has been phenomenal. Now, let’s revisit this idea of changing the way we think about advertising.
On Reddit, ads are meant to be as useful and non-intrusive as possible.
The elements of a great Reddit ad include:
- Relevancy to the viewer and the subreddit
- Engaging or interesting in nature
- Simple and thematic with the social norms of Reddit (i.e; meme-speak)
- Timely with the social norms of Reddit (i.e; referring to events that only redditors would know of, such as “the safe”)
And if you’re ad is for something innovative or interesting in nature, simply state your case, like Gabriel Weinberg’s Duck Duck Go ad:
For $650, he received 1.28 million impressions, 20,700 clicks (6.49% per unique redditor, 3.5 center per unique visitor) and remarkable feedback. He states that redditors actually try out your site, comment on your site, and paved the way for higher social traction on his follow-up posts. Essentially, this relatively tiny advertising campaign resulted in superb ROI, both in traffic, feedback, exposure, and brand reputation.
Now that your eyebrows have risen, let’s get into nuts and bolts of it.
Without further ado, here is the complete guide to advertising on Reddit, starting with Reddit’s own graphic guide:
Back in 2009, sponsored links were introduced. Here is a template example:
The benefits of a sponsored link include:
- Being the top link on the front page (or on a subreddit)
- CTR rate average of 10% (can you guys confirm?)
- Having the same, core link design (with the benefit of being highlighted and blue)
- Your link is treated the same as others; meaning redditors can vote and comment
- You can follow up with redditors in the comment section to provide additional details, answer questions or concerns, or even provide an exclusive discount for redditors
What is selfserve and how does it work?
The selfserve ad system functions just as you would expect. But it’s important to note that in the examples below, you’ll be seeing both selfserve ads and sidebar ads. The sidebar ads can only be acquired by contacting Reddit directly and getting accepted into their ad system; Adzerk.
To inquire about sidebar ads, you’ll have to:
I will be showing you how to set up selfserve, but I’m also including examples of sidebar ads to show you the potential of ad targeting.
For selfserve, you can set everything up yourself in just a few clicks.
First, let’s take a look at the two types of selfserve ads: frontpage and targeted.
Just as the label suggests, your ad will appear smack-dab on the frontpage.
You pick two important things:
- When you want the ad to run
- How much you want to pay throughout the time period
Your frontpage ad rotates with Reddit house ads (such as Reddit Gold) and new, organic links submitted by users.
Here is an example of Reddit’s own frontpage ad:
Here is an example of a frontpage ad, a sponsored link for a subreddit:
To show you guys how easy it is to set up a frontpage ad, I created a sample one. Check it out:
This ad is doing two things.
It’s promoting a picture of a homebrew I created, while also supporting the homebrewing subreddit. Let’s say I owned a local homebrew shop or an eCommerce homebrew store. Since the focus of my ad is friendly and light-humored, I’m increasing the chances of positive feedback. Now you may be wondering, “Well that’s great and all, but when are you going to sell them?”
Instead, I’m going to help them. On Reddit, helping sells.
In the discussion section of this ad, someone is bound to ask the following questions:
- How can I start brewing?
- Answer, “This [site] is an excellent place to get starter kits
- What style of brew is that?
- Answer, “It’s an organic wheat actually…this [site] has really great deals on organic/all natural flavors if you’re considering something like that”
While the discussion may not be word for word, you get the idea.
The goal is to be helpful, and without being overly promotional, refer your site as “the go-to place” that has whatever they’re asking about.
Also, respond to as many comments as you can, even if they don’t have a high EV (expected value). By providing purely informational answers (with your site link) you’re increasing your authority and trustworthiness.
This form of Reddit advertising is ideal for many reasons; primarily for its strategic application.
In the example below we see a Nirvana sidebar ad, appropriately targeting the music subreddit (/r/music).
Another example for a sports community website:
Targeted ads appear in two locations:
- Your ad appears on the top spot in the subreddit you have targeted. If another advertiser has purchased an ad for the same subreddit, on the same day, your ads will simply rotate accordingly.
- Your ad appears on the frontpage of a user who is logged in and subscribes to that subreddit.
Here is an example of targeted sidebar ads appearing in two locations on the technology subreddit (/r/technology, one of the largest):
New Relic also takes advantage of overlapping campaigns. I refreshed the page and a new design appeared:
As I previously mentioned, sidebar ads must be handled directly through a Reddit staff member, as your images/content must be approved.
What separates sidebar ads on Reddit from anything else you’ve seen, is that users can upvote/downvote the ad and discuss it, just like selfserve ads.
Here is an example:
This helps improve the user experience, but also provides insights to advertisers.
You could create three ad variations, essentially a multi-variant test, giving you a better idea of what users prefer.
The following sections cover how to set up a selfserve ad and start a promotion and campaign.
For those unfamiliar with CPM, this is a common advertising model where you are charged a set rate for every 1,000 impressions. Reddit’s CPM rate is 75 cents. This means you’re paying 75 cents once 1,000 redditors have seen your ad.
The limits to advertising are:
- A minimum spend per campaign of $5
- A maximum spend per campaign of $9,999
Also note: the frontpage and large subreddits have massive, varied amounts of impressions and pageviews. Think of these locations as prime advertising real estate. If these locations have been sold out (temporarily unavailable) then you’ll simply have to choose a different time period or select an available subreddit with targeted ads.
Promotion and Campaigns
First, create your ad (just as you saw me do before):
Your ad headline is the number one factor influencing CTR.
Some exemplary headlines include:
This was created to promote an Amazon affiliate program.
This ad was created to promote a news article.
As you can see, ads can fuel many business objectives, whether it’s increasing conversion rates, page view quotas, or building hype around an event, product, or news.
- Make sure the URL is working!
- Create an eye-catching 70×70 thumbnail to accompany the sponsored link (you will upload this on the next page, after filling out a headline and URL)
- Validate your email address for any future correspondence with Reddit staff about your ad
- The domain of your link must match the domain of the actual page (no redirects) – however, tracking is allowed, such as setting up a Google Analytics “utm” source for Reddit.
A campaign is essentially your ad package details.
This includes picking:
- Start date
- Stop date
- Your subreddit target (each campaign can only target one subreddit)
- Total budget
It’s that simple.
You can also see how your ad looks and make edits before having to pay anything. Here is a test example, for what would be a discussion-based ad (no external URL):
- After submitting a new campaign it takes 2 business days before it goes live
- Geotargeting is not available; however, it’s in the works!
After creating your campaign, the next step is payment.
Payment operations live on a secure webserver and Reddit accepts all major credit cards.
After completing payment, your campaign will go under review and you will receive an email once your ad is approved.
Ads go live at midnight EST to ensure full 24 hour exposure and avoid time-changes.
You will receive additional standard emails when:
- Your credit card is charged
- When the ad goes live
- When the ad campaign is completed
Some important notes:
- You cannot edit ads once they go live. In the case of a dire need to make an edit, you have the option of emailing the ad support line ([email protected]) to remove or pause the ad.
- In the same vein, you cannot edit campaigns once they go live. So if you’d like to extend or strategically plan campaigns, you just have to create additional ones and tactfully select campaign details (such as overlapping start/finish times and related subreddits).
Ads get rejected if:
- URL redirects/shorteners are used
- URL is broken
- URL is difficult to navigate away from (such as being greeted with pop-up overloads)
- URL is inappropriate or violates code of conduct and/or terms of service of another company, school, or service
Advertising + Creativity = Success
Example 1: Advertise your product or service in a new light
- Be super-relevant with mainstream Reddit references. One of the greatest examples I could find is this: the popular eCommerce flower shop, 1-800-Flowers, created an ad that referenced a popular event on Reddit (basically someone posted a picture of a safe they discovered but never followed up.
- Learn meme-speak and don’t be afraid to be a little funny. If your ad puts people in a good mood or makes them chuckle a bit, they’re more likely to click-through, inquire more, comment, share, upvote, etc.
Example 2: Advertising a subreddit
- Choose a subreddit you often frequent and give back to them by creating a special ad for that subreddit, such as the /r/foxes example above. Submit a post in the subreddit letting them know about your ad for brownie points. Take it a step further and submit a post BEFORE you create the ad, asking fellow subredditors what type of ad they’d like to see, as you plan to create one! This builds up anticipation and even more brownie points!
- Create your own subreddit (stay tuned for a future article on creating a subreddit) and advertise it. Turn the subreddit into a valuable resource for people in your industry. Ultimately, you’ll naturally build relationships and find opportunities to market your products/services, without seeming intrusive.
Example 3: Advertise with a philanthropic or interesting PSA
- “Nothing to hide” – you’re campaign is honest, simple, and relevant to the subreddit and/or general Reddit community. The example above works for the general community because one of the default subreddits is gaming. The organization, 12 Keys Rehab, still has business goals to meet – even though the essence of their existence is to help people (something has to pay the bills). They’ve used Reddit to engage in discussions, build awareness, and provide useful information to those who need it.
The finer details…
If you’re interested in a campaign that well exceeds the $9,999 cap, Reddit has a sales team ready to help meet your needs.
Also, be sure to go over the standard advertising rules, how the platform works, and miscellaneous information such as the Advertising Terms & Conditions and Prohibited Advertisements here.
Since writing the above blog post. reddit has updated the platform with more features – such as location targeting – and continues to upgrade and make great improvements. Many brands are flocking to the platform with creative campaigns.
This month, reddit rolled out another feature that benefits both new and experienced users of their advertising platform alike. If you’re familiar with Facebook or StumbleUpon’s “interest groups,” you’ll quickly pick up on how reddit’s version works. Read the full release, redditAdvertising: Interest Audience Group Targeting.
Let’s explore some of the benefits and how businesses small and large can benefit from them.
As someone considering advertising, you’re probably thinking about how you can target people with an interest in your products or services. If we look at TV ads, we’ll often discover many ads are not applicable to us.
On reddit, communities are known as subreddits and every subreddit is dedicated to its own topic or cause, such as “mechanic advice” or “energy“. Before interest groups were added to reddit, advertisers had two options of creating a campaign:
1) Targeted: pick an individual subreddit the ad caters to
2) FrontPage: ad displays on the front page for users
Interest groups are listed under targeted and basically allow advertisers to target to a bundle of related subreddits instead of just one subreddit. This perfectly meshes with Google Analytics’ affinity reporting:
We already have access to the demographics and interests (affinities) of our current consumer base, so we need only match that among fitting interest groups on reddit. These include:
- Frontpage Influencers – reddit.com is the frontpage of the internet. With more than 80% of reddit visits originating on the frontpage, you’re reaching a large audience of influencers.
- Entertainment addicts – Entertainment enthusiasts care about entertainment, music, movies and television. They follow their favorite shows and genres. They’re looking for new releases, behind the scenes tidbits, connections with other fans, and music.
- Gamers – From MMO pc games to consoles and blockbuster gaming releases, the reddit gaming community are hardcore players. They’re looking for new games, people to play with, insight into professional leagues, and a robust outlet for sharing opinions.
- Trend spotters – From memes to trending videos and jokes, these Internet aficionados are looking for news that will be on blogs later today, morning TV shows tomorrow, Ellen next week, and your grandmother’s Facebook page in 6 months.
- News junkies – Users can find the latest news and thoughtful commentary on world news, local news, and within different verticals like science and politics.
- Technology buffs – From software to hardware, these reddit users are curious about data, manufacturing, troubleshooting, and creating products.
- Lifestylers – Living the good life: eating good food, finding your style, being comfortable in your skin, and providing advice to others on what you’re confident in set apart these users and subreddits.
- Sports & Fitness Fans – From spending hours in the gym to hours watching their favorite teams compete, the sports and fitness obsessed look to reddit for news and recommendations.
- After Dark – The after-hours area of reddit for adult content.
In the re-designed campaign dashboard – which is very easy to navigate for first-time users – we simply select on the interest group we want, such as Sports and Fitness:
Once selected, we can see a list of all the subreddits included in our interest group:
Our ad itself needs to be different then you’re run of the mill social media ad. It’s not surprise that 95% of consumers prefer companies that provide engaging/valuable content. The ad already gives us the spotlight – now we need to deliver with personable copy; language that tells someone we’re human, maybe we have a good sense of humor, maybe we even demonstrate something that shows we’ve been in the subreddit before.
Some businesses may not have as much potential as they would on a different platform; such as a business-to-business operation. These groups greatly favor business-to-consumer operations, but that’s not to say a B2B couldn’t find creative ways to market themselves. They can still individually target subreddits.
Let’s use a tough example like a B2B operation such as APG Exhibits that is targeted at small-large companies who participate at events like trade shows and festivals. The average reddit user most likely does not have an interest in them, but if we think about why someone would participate at one of these events, we can actually find some fitting subreddits such as:
- startups – because many startups participate in demos and live events
- marketing – because marketers work hand in hand with even planners (sometimes there are no event planners!)
- SFEvents – because people post their own events here and may have not considered getting a banner stand or display for their booth
This is just one example of reddit’s advertising platform is flexible. If you’re an author, indie game developer, videographer, podcaster, budding musician, digital fitness trainer, health & beauty product supplier, etc. then interest groups favor you. If we spend $500 on a week of Facebook advertising with interest groups based on “likes”, it can easily under-perform that same amount spent on an interest group on reddit. This is because a “like” is not as big of a commitment as a subscription, which is how redditors connect with and grow their favorite subreddits.