Reddit to try a new commercial model: Promoted User Posts

27 Jul 2016

It will either be a disaster or a brilliant fluke, but, ultimately, the vocal Reddit community will decide if Promoted User Posts will have a chance of succeeding

The self-proclaimed front page of the internet, Reddit, has revealed a bold new plan to make more advertising revenue by allowing marketers to sponsor consenting Redditors’ posts.

Reddit has decided to play to its strengths as one of the most compelling locations on the internet and, rather than lurking in the shadows, wants to become as big as Facebook. And for this it needs revenue. Lots of revenue.

According to an interview Reddit CEO Steve Huffman gave Ad Age, the platform is about to go live with a bold new plan whereby marketers will sponsor posts if Redditors grant their consent.

‘Reddit users don’t like being bullshitted’

Until now, Reddit users have shown disdain for brands trying to mingle in their ranks.

But this could change.

Reddit’s new ad offering

The new ad offering, which will be called Promoted User Posts, will go live on 4 August, and will give marketers the ability to sponsor user-generated posts on Reddit’s platform.

Reddit will then display these posts in different parts of the website, targeting specific users.

“Reddit users don’t like being bullshitted,” Huffman said in the Ad Age interview.

“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.”

If a user who wrote the original post grants permission to a brand to promote the post, they will receive Reddit Gold, a feature that grants extra benefits such as upvotes.

The platform will employ a team of strategists, who will work with major brands to inform the choice of organic posts that have potential to become Promoted User Posts.

“There are car enthusiasts on Reddit,” Huffman said. “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.”

Something tells me Reddit’s vocal audience will ultimately decide. But it’s good to see Reddit finally take itself seriously as a business.

Main image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years