From August 8th, Reddit will launch a new, “more personable” form of advertising on its site, according to co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman in an interview published in Ad Age.
The program will allow companies to sponsor posts that regular users of the site have uploaded, boosting the reach of that post so it will reach many more of those who scroll through Reddit, the “front page of the internet.” It is all part of an effort to ensure the site remains profitable, especially in the age of ad-blockers.
An example of this in action would be if there was a clothing line who saw a particularly attractive individual post about how they had a fun time down at the beach with their friends whilst wearing the latest clothes in the company’s collection. The head of advertising at that company would contact Reddit and work with them to ensure the post’s reach is expanded.
Huffman explained that Reddit is planning on building a new team dedicated to helping brands pick out certain posts that would be ideal for sponsorship. If chosenn Reddit would contact the user and ask for permission for the company to use their post – if the user agreed, he or she would receive a lifetime subscription to Reddit Gold, the site’s premium service (that ironically allows users to browse the site without seeing any advertisements).
“This isn’t traditional brand advertising”, said Huffman. “You have to bring your A game here, and if you do, it works amazingly,” a point that highlights the fickle nature of viral media. A sponsored post could blow up and become a new sensation on the site, or it could linger, garnering no revenue for either Reddit or the brand involved. It seems that the latter may be a more common instance, as Redditors have never taken too kindly to advertisements, signalling just how much of a gamble this really is.
Reddit is a user-driven community at heart, and too much top-down meddling could very easily end up in a revolt, such as the huge backlash against the interim CEO Ellen Pao back in June of last year. Nick Statt writes in The Verge that “never before has the company attempted to leverage the text, photos, or videos its users post to turn them into advertising vehicles. This kind of move could come off like the type of corporate-grade social media desperation Reddit users pride themselves on sniffing out.”
Reddit has been involved in other contriversies recently, with moderators of /r/The_Donald claiming that site administrators are censoring positive discussions of the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, along with an alteration of the algorithm on /r/all to make the site “more diverse”. It is yet to be seen whether this new advertising plan will generate another wave of controversy, or whether it will be endorsed by the site’s ever-watchful users.
Jack Hadfield is a student at the University of Warwick and a regular contributor to Breitbart Tech. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.