Reddit Ads: A Much Bigger Opportunity Than You Thought

Reddit, the community site, bigger than both Pinterest and Twitter, has a topic-driven and easy-to-use advertising engine we explore here.

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Updated December 1, 2020

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When I was young, it was common knowledge that “TV made you dumber.” Today, it seems social media has earned that prize. But isn't social media simply a mirror of society?

One of the great things social media has brought about is the notion of collective intelligence and peer review. On Reddit, collective intelligence is taken even further. You don’t “like” content on Reddit, you “upvote” it.

The most upvoted content percolates to the top of a topical community and becomes prominent and visible to more people. With a user base larger than the population of the United States, Reddit lets you plug into a great deal of collective intelligence.

Illustration of social relations between peers and communities.

In most social networks, connections are person-to-person. On Reddit, they’re community-based.


Overview: What is Reddit?

Reddit is a community of communities where people can share opinions, content, and ideas with the subcommunities they belong to, called subreddits. The most interesting posts are upvoted by other users and then appear at the top of a community. It is different from other social networks in the relations you have with other users.

On Reddit, you are a member of a community. You are not connected from person to person as with other social platforms. This means you don’t look for fans or following, and you don’t schedule posts with a social media management tool either. On Reddit, you contribute with content around a topic, and the community votes your post up or down affecting its visibility.

The members who check into their community every day will find the most upvoted content first before they move to items with fewer upvotes.


What type of advertising works best on Reddit?

Reddit is good for business advertising because of its knowledge focus. Study the list of topics discussed on Reddit to determine if they work for your marketing plan. The best way to use Reddit is to become an influential member and advertise already well-performing posts to a broader audience.

This is the same content boost capability that works well on other social advertising platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The post will appear as a Reddit-promoted post and reach other subreddits.

Another interesting Reddit characteristic is the large ad window prominently placed in subreddit feeds where you can place video ads. Due to their size and position on the page, they can be very impactful. Reddit advertising cost for this quality of exposure can be lower than on other more popular advertising platforms.

Other ad placements on Reddit are managed differently. They appear in the right column and are managed by the Google Display Networks. You probably need to choose between right column ads managed via Google and centerpiece ads managed directly on Reddit to avoid conflict or saturation.


What to consider before advertising your business on Reddit

Advertising on Reddit isn’t necessarily a natural extension of your other advertising. Consider these points before you invest time and resources into this platform because it requires a dedicated approach.

1. Is it the right audience?

Reddit demographics is made up of predominantly young, male North Americans. According to 2019 data from Statista, around 50% of users are from the U.S. and another 8% from Canada. Other readers include almost 8% from the U.K., 4% from Australia, and 3% from Germany.

As the platform is exclusively in English, large parts of the worldwide population won’t be part of the community. Make sure this is a good fit with your target audience, as further targeting options in the platform are fairly limited.

2. Community membership

Advertising always works better when the marketer understands the media. Are you a member of the community already? Do you understand the codes, the usage, the rules on the network? A great way to use a social platform is to build up your presence organically before you spend money on advertising. This will allow you to create posts that can later be boosted with advertising.

3. Topical fit

Is there a subreddit about your specific topic? I found a few about digital marketing and PPC with reasonable community sizes. Reddit Advertising on subreddits is one of the keys to success on the platform.


How to successfully advertise your business on Reddit

Advertising on Reddit is straightforward if you are familiar with running digital ad campaigns. The economic model is predominantly PPC, or pay per click, but this will depend on your campaign objective.

Reddit advertising has a process similar to Google Ads or Quora Ads. You define three levels of information: campaign information, ad group information, and individual ads. Reddit Ads has a limited number of targeting and ad options, so it’s quite simple to set up.

1. Create your Reddit account

Ideally, you are already a Reddit member and know the platform. Otherwise, head over to reddit.com and set up a user account. Since you will use it for advertising, choose a relevant username rather than choosing one of Reddit’s funky suggestions.

2. Create an ad account

Now go to Reddit Advertising to get an overview of Reddit advertising possibilities and create your ad account. In your account setup, you can give ad account access to various users with different roles: analyst, creator, administrator.

You can also define your inventory. You can choose between a standard inventory that is more brand-safe than the expanded inventory which can incorporate “mild to moderate profanity,” with topics about drugs and violence in the context of video games or movies. I’ll just stick to standard inventory. Setup requires you to provide a payment method, typically in the form of a credit card.

3. Create a campaign

Click on Create Campaign at the top left of the screen. Name your campaign and define the objective of your campaign with the following:

  • Brand Awareness and Reach: visibility of your ad using the cost per mille (CPM) model where you pay per thousand impressions.
  • Traffic: clicks to your website using the cost per click model (CPC).
  • Conversions: optimized toward a conversion rate tracked with a pixel but paid on a CPC basis.
  • Video Views: video campaign paid on a cost per view (CPV) basis.
  • App Installs: optimized toward a conversion rate tracked in the app but paid on a CPC basis.
Screenshot from campaign setup in Reddit Ads.

The campaign objectives align with the funnel concept with awareness and video campaigns for visibility, traffic for consideration, and conversions and app installs for the bottom of the funnel. Source: ads.reddit.com.

At the bottom of the menu on the left side of the screen, you will find the REDDIT PIXEL. Click on this optional menu item to get instructions and code for tagging your website. You need the pixel in order to create retargeting audiences, to optimize campaigns to conversions, and for app installs. It is technically complex, and you may need help from a developer or your webmaster.

You can do this at any time, and some campaign types don’t require it. When you have chosen the campaign type, move on to the next step by clicking Continue at the bottom of the screen.

4. Create an ad group

You need to assign a name to each ad group you create. Then move on to audience settings. Your first option is to choose between a Reddit Audience or a Pixel Retargeting audience. The latter requires installing tags on your website as described above. Reddit retargeting is a classic website retargeting approach where visitors to your website will be recognized when they later come onto Reddit, and will see ads tailored to them.

Reddit audiences are topically defined via categories and communities. You can use the INTERESTS selector to choose your top-level category and remove the subcategories you don’t want to target. As you select categories, the estimated number of daily impressions a campaign to this audience could deliver is displayed at the top right.

You can also target and include/exclude communities. When you enter a community name in the box, existing communities are shown, including the number of members for each. A great way to target communities is to explore them as a member before you target them with advertising.

Screenshot from Reddit’s topic targeting interface.

The estimated audience volume updates as you choose categories, subcategories, or individual subreddits you want to target. Source: ads.reddit.com.

The Ad Group is also where you define bids and daily budgets. You can also choose your start date, which can be immediately or a later date.

5. Create ad

Each Ad Group must contain at least one ad. When you create an ad, you can choose between a video or text ad. If you haven’t created a video campaign, your ad will be composed of a post with a long title and an image, a URL, and a call to action.

Screenshot from Reddit’s ad creation page.

Reddit ads are posts that can contain a large image and a long title text. Source: ads.reddit.com.

6. Launch campaign

You’re ready to launch. If you entered the credit card information in your account, that is. And you should check that the pixel is working so you can track conversions on your website. Close your eyes and click the ON/OFF button. Oh, it was already on? Then sit tight and wait for ad delivery to start.

7. Monitor and optimize

It can take a little time before your ad goes live on the network. If you have chosen specific subreddits for your campaign, don’t hesitate to go and have a look. Remember, if you are using a CPC model (traffic, conversion, app installs), you only pay if you click on the ad, and if you use a CPM or CPV campaign, seeing your ad will cost you a few cents. It’s always worth checking the user experience on your ad campaigns.

Next, be patient and wait until you have a bit of traffic to review your stats. You’ll surely want to add or remove subreddits, adjust the budget, and maybe the bid price.


Frequently Asked Questions for Reddit Ads

How can I boost a Reddit post?

To boost an existing post on Reddit with advertising, set up an ad campaign. Choose your objective, your audience, and bid and budget information. When you create the ad, simply choose an existing post as the ad.

How can I advertise on Reddit via GDN?

The right column ads on Reddit are served via the Google Display Network. This means you need to find Reddit.com in GDN and incorporate it in a GDN campaign via Google Ads.

Can I use retargeting on Reddit?

Reddit allows retargeting campaigns to audiences that have been built via its own tracking tag. For that, you need to insert Reddit’s tracking code into your site and wait until it has a sufficient size to be used for advertising. This requires both enough traffic on your site and a big enough overlap with the Reddit audience for it to work.


Community advertising

Reddit is a much larger social network than most people know. Far behind Facebook and YouTube, of course, but larger than both Pinterest and Twitter. It’s built around communities you can target on the basis of members’ interests. If advertising in these communities hits both the topic and the tone, they can be a great advertising venue for your business.

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The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned. Click here for more information.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.