Reddit is banking on native mobile ads to generate advertiser karma.
Starting March 19, advertisers will be able to buy native promoted posts in Reddit’s official iOS app, with Android inventory to follow within the next few weeks, the company said Wednesday.
The only visual difference between in-feed native posts and organic posts created by Reddit users will be a “promoted” label at the top. Unlike regular promoted posts, Reddit users will be able to upvote, downvote and comment on native ads just like anything else posted in the feed.
For now, the ads aren’t available programmatically – the deals are direct only – but Reddit is open to introducing more automated buying options, said Emily Huo, Reddit’s director of online sales.
The same goes for potentially expanding the available targeting parameters.
To begin, Reddit will enable targeting by interest or browsing history, community, geography and device for its native app ads, the same as what’s on offer for desktop ads. But Reddit isn’t opposed to the idea of letting advertisers bring their own data to its platform for a little CRM matching.
“We’re evaluating options like that right now, because we’ve heard from advertisers that it’s something they want,” Huo said. “We’ll decide what tools and products to launch between now and the end of the year.”
Something else advertisers want: brand safety controls. Native promoted posts work across all subreddits, but advertisers can choose which ones to target and which to avoid.
Reddit may be the self-described “front page of the internet” and a big driver of engagement and traffic – as of March, it’s the fourth most trafficked site on the internet, according to Alexa – but marketers are increasingly skittish about their ads appearing next to content that doesn’t fall within their brand guidelines. Not to mention fearing the opprobrium of Redditors with a nose for BS and bad Reddiquette.
But for advertisers with the appetite, native in-app ads can be an opportunity to tap into the energy of conversations on Reddit, more and more of which are happening on mobile. Reddit’s more than 330 million monthly active users spend more than 41% of their time engaging on mobile, and 80% of its app users aren’t even on desktop. Logged-in app users spend 30% more time per day with Reddit than logged-in desktop users.
“When people are part of a specific subreddit or subscribe to a specific community, they all have the same passion point and advertisers can target them by their interests,” Huo said. “We’re making it easier for advertisers to connect authentically with those passion points.”
Reddit has been steadily building out its ad offerings since Huffman returned as chief exec in 2015 after a more than 10-year hiatus, including the launch of a more user-friendly self-serve ad platform, interest-based targeting and autoplay video ads.
Advertising is the primary source of revenue for the platform. Although Reddit declined to share exact revenue numbers, it did say that its ad business more than doubled year over year and grew fivefold over the last three years.