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Is advertising on Reddit worth it? Read our Reddit ads guide

Marketing
Read in 6 minutes
Written by: Malene Heien
Reddit is an increasingly important platform to consider for your paid media advertising mix. It is a unique and engaging social platform, ranking 3rd in the UK on Alexa’s top sites ranking of most visited sites, just behind Google and Facebook. Advertising on Reddit however,  has not always been a walk in the park with fairly limited options available for marketers.

This seems to be changing and in recent years Reddit Ads has optimised its offering and is growing into a decent ad platform. But is Reddit worth it? And is it right for your brand? We have recently tested Reddit’s ad platform for some of our clients and have put together some initial thoughts and learnings.

Before you start - Is Reddit right for your brand? 
  • Consider your audience. Reddit has over 2 million subreddits. Before you build campaigns and create ad content, make sure you can find communities that feature conversations highly relevant to your brand and offering. The users on Reddit are highly engaged and passionate about the subjects being discussed in each subreddits and are likely to be on high alert for misleading claims and content not relevant to them. 
  • Is your content appropriate? Reddit hosts a variety of communities based around specific topics which are used for discussions and interaction. The users on Reddit are also generally more engaged than what we’ve seen on Facebook and Instagram feeds, with higher engagement rates both on paid ads and organic content. Reddit users are on average spending more time on the platform per day compared to users on Facebook, and the user base is growing. The audience responds to more functional  ‘straight to the point’ and relevant content which might not be appropriate for all brand voices. Below is some insight into the content we found to perform well on Reddit.
Key take-aways from our Reddit ads trial

Targeting

  • Targeting options are  limited. The interest groups to choose from are few and very general. We therefore focused our efforts on finding the right subreddits which we could be more confident would be appropriate and targeted enough for the people we were trying to reach. Due to this, Reddit was not quite able to compete with Facebook for us in terms of conversions. Reddit does not offer any custom audiences built from data or list uploads [although these are rumoured to be in BETA] which immediately makes it less sophisticated in terms of finding people similar to your current customers or people likely to convert on your site.
  • Allow Reddit to expand on your targeting. We started off the campaigns by only serving ads in our carefully selected subreddits, however quickly noticed that the campaigns were not spending the full allocated budget. Even after increasing bids several times we did not serve at full capacity, and suspect that there simply wasn’t enough ad space available in the fairly popular subreddits we had chosen. After ticking the ‘allow expansion’ box we saw a significant increase in traffic and actually got some great suggestions for subreddits that might be popular amongst our target audience.
  • Not all subreddits are possible to target with paid ads, and some will forecast the reach to be too low. Ideally you want to choose subreddits with minimum 5K subscribers in order to ensure the ads will be able to generate enough clicks. However, even when the forecast is 0 impressions, we found it was worth giving it a chance, especially for the most important subreddits. We saw several of our ‘low forecast’ subreddits serve ads over the course of the campaign.

Ad Creative

  • Keep it real! We tested a variation of copy and creative on Reddit. Some were duplicates of creative/copy used on other ad platforms [mainly Facebook] and some tailored to Reddit, experimenting with a more humorous or straightforward tone. We found the latter to be the top performing in terms of CTR and would recommend speaking to the audience on Reddit in a more direct way than you might on other platforms. Authenticity is important to connect contextually within the subreddits you target. The only thing you know about the viewers of your ad is that they have a specific interest in the subjects being discussed in this community - make sure to use this to your advantage and make your ads fit into the conversations. 

Reporting

  • The Reddit ad platform is relatively basic compared to its peers. Don’t expect granular analytics or a lot of data to use for campaign optimization. 
  • Use ‘breakdowns’  to see which subreddits are performing well. This makes it easier to target several subreddits in the same ad set, especially useful if you have a limited budget which doesn’t allow to break the targeting out at ad set level.
  • Install the Reddit pixel on your website before advertising. The pixel uses one day view-through attribution, which will help you recognise conversions on your website where the user did not click through directly from the Reddit ad but still saw it and then entered your website via a different channel [e.g. Google search]. Google Analytics will not report these back to Reddit as it uses a last click attribution as default, and you might lose important insight in Reddits contribution to a conversion.
Step-by-step setup guide

Follow these simple steps to create your first Reddit campaign. The campaign creation process is very similar to Facebook, albeit a basic version. 

  1. Create an account. Create a Reddit account for your business or client as well as an ad account.
  2. Create a campaign. Within the ad account, start by creating your campaign and select the campaign objective. Choose between Brand Awareness & Reach [CPM], Website Traffic [CPC], Conversions [CPC], Video Views [CPV] and App Installs [CPC]. Note: you have less option to choose from compared to Facebook/other ad platforms. 
  3. Create an ad group. This is where you do your targeting, ad scheduling, bids and budgets. Choose between subreddit and interest targeting. Note that the interest groups on Reddit are relatively broad, which might make it harder to find your target audience using this method, especially if it’s slightly niche. Unless you want to dedicate a specific amount of ad spend to one or a group of subreddits,  you can add all to the same ad set and later base any granular structure on performance breakdowns. 
  4. Create ads. Reddit has two ad types; link ads and text ads and you can use image or video. The main difference between the two formats is that link ads link externally to your website or blog while text ads simply link to another Reddit page which can contain more information. Normally you’d want to focus on link ads to remove the additional steps.
  5. Tracking. Before you activate your campaign, make sure you add the Reddit pixel to your website as well as create any relevant conversion events. At the top right of your dashboard the set up instructions are found under conversions. It can be added using Google Tag Manager or directly to the code. It is also advised to add UTM tracking parameters to the final URLs of the ads, in order to clearly see each campaign's performance in Google Analytics.
Final thoughts...

We found Reddit’s ad platform to be very promising with immense potential. It is clear that Reddit is investing in growing its advertising revenue with significant improvements and new features added to its ad offering (and with more in the pipeline). That being said, it is difficult to compete with Facebook's algorithm and for the industry we advertised with (B2B lead gen for one of our tech clients) we did not see the same conversion rate or lead quality as we do using Facebook ads. But this might change. Reddit requires a human touch in terms of strategy, assumptions, language and optimisations, which is predicted to become increasingly important in the paid media advertising world particularly in light of the dreaded death of the third-party cookie. We will certainly be running Reddit ads again, especially when aiming to reach those very specific, hard-to-reach users. And with the addition of customer lists, remarketing, lookalike audiences and more - sky's the limit for future success through Reddit ads!  

Furthermore, we see this kind of advertising as part of a broader meta trend: the rise of Groups! Forums have been in decline since the advent of social. And ‘groups’ functionality on social never seemed to cut it with the huge drive away from pages to in-feed. However, Facebook has been investing significantly in groups functionality and we see other platforms (such as LinkedIn) following suit. As the death of the third-party cookie progresses, we can see more and more advertising exploring contextual targeting methods, and particularly penetrating groups and communities where the topic of the group provides the targeting base. Naturally there will be resistance to anything inherently interruptive but if you are producing relevant content-driven campaigns this is going to be an enormous opportunity for brands in the coming years. Watch this space, we’ll be doing a series on targeting groups in the near future! 

If you’re looking for a London digital agency to help with any content marketing or support on digital Direction, Identity, Platforms or Growth, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!