Did The Blackout Affect Reddit For Advertisers?

London, UK - August 01, 2018: The buttons of Reddit, Spotify, Podcasts, WhatsApp and Music on the screen of an iPhone.

It’s fair to say that the last couple of months have not been the easiest for Reddit. The site went through a wave of problems following a decision to start charging for its API. Vast swathes of the site participated in the so-called “Blackout,” making their communities private and preventing anyone from accessing them. For advertisers, that was concerning, to say the least.

However, the problems didn’t stop there. While a number of communities came out of private mode following the protest, a number started tagging themselves and every post “NSFW” or Not Safe For Work. Under Reddit’s own rules, it does not offer adverts next to this content.

From there, a battle took place between community moderators and Reddit, with the platform demanding that moderators remove the tag, lest they have their moderator privileges removed.

As it stands, the r/Pics community, with more than 30 million members, is still protesting against the changes and seems locked in a battle with the platform about its content being marked NSFW and, bizarrely, every picture containing British comedian John Oliver.

Reddit said that it is “Committed to fostering a safe and responsible developer ecosystem around Reddit – developers and third-party apps can make Reddit better and do so in a sustainable and mutually-beneficial partnership, while also keeping our users, advertisers and data safe.”

But, the dust is starting to settle and the site is returning to normal. But is Reddit still a safe place for advertisers? Will Cady, Reddit’s global brand ambassador told B&T that the site’s unique nature makes it more than a simple ad platform.

Reddit’s Will Cady

“It’s a unique audience that you cannot find elsewhere. There is a high proportion of people that use Reddit that do not use other platforms. So when reach is the assignment, Reddit has to be in the plan,” he said.

We spoke to Cady in June, prior to the Reddit blackout but his points about the broader usefulness of Reddit for brands and users alike still stand.

In Australia, the site has seen a small but not earth-shattering drop in traffic. Compared to May, traffic in June was down by 2.55 per cent. And, comparing June of this year to June last year, overall traffic is down by almost 4.3 per cent.

Clearly, the blackout, while damaging for Reddit’s reputation, has not necessarily cut through to user behaviour. What’s more, when users come to Reddit, they tend to be very engaged, looking for answers and inspiration.

“We represent this interesting evolution in targeting, where we’ve gone from identity, to interest, to intent. When somebody goes to r/WhatCarShouldIBuy, in a sense, it almost doesn’t matter what their demographic is. They’re there to buy a car,” said Cady.

“Yes, the interest, the psychographics that I have, matter. Yes, the demographics matter. But as far as getting to conversion, the most important thing is ‘Why are they here? What’s the context?’

“That’s what makes Reddit a unique platform versus the others. We’re able to identify a user’s intent on where they are in the space and where the ad is reaching them.”

The other side of Reddit, of course, is community engagement. Cady told us that brands can and have demonstrated great success in being active in communities that relate to their products or sector, or are about their product or service directly — GoPro being a classic example.

Of course, it isn’t easy to get it right.

“I won’t go into specifics,” said Cady, “but we’ve seen some of our partners fumble at launch, which is really difficult when you know the people that have invested so much time and energy.

“They had to admit the fumble and that gains an enormous amount of trust when you admit ‘We messed up here. We’re sorry, let’s talk about it.’ Reddit is a place where that conversation can happen.”

In order to avoid those fumbles, Cady recommended that brands should be on the platform every day. Listening and watching how the communities interact.

Given what has gone on with Reddit in recent months, one would be forgiven for thinking that advertising on the platform would instantly make a brand persona non grata.

However, Cady explained that Reddit’s users understand that they will be advertised to and the value exchange that keeps the platform free to users, at least.

“When I started in 2016, we didn’t have an ad product. We had something called the Promoted Post. It was created for users like me that were musicians recording demos in our dorm rooms, trying to be heard,” he said.

“We were spamming the music communities and so the platform created a place where, if you pay to be heard, you can do this. That was a space where Reddit users understood that this is where people — people — are paying for visibility. That’s an interesting origin to our ad stack.”

From there, brands including Coca-Cola and Toyota jumped on Reddit and began to make users feel “excited” due to the size of the brands and their engagement with users.

“Universally, that’s been the experience that we find when we connect brands with the communities that have already gathered to talk about them. They’re very, very welcome,” Cady added.

Reddit might not yet be at the end of the tunnel in its battle with moderators and a selection of communities. However, once both sides have managed to completely put down their arms, it’s likely that the Front Page of the Internet will become a great place for brands to do business again.

Please login with linkedin to comment


Latest News

Archibald Williams Wins NBA Digital, Activation & Fan Engagement Accounts For APAC
  • Media

Archibald Williams Wins NBA Digital, Activation & Fan Engagement Accounts For APAC

Independent brand and digital agency, Archibald Williams (AW) has been appointed to lead the NBA account across the APAC region. The NBA is one of the most prestigious sporting leagues in the world and basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia. Effective immediately, AW said it was “excited” to work across all digital, […]

QMS Champions Creativity As First Most Contagious APAC 2023 Sponsor
  • Advertising

QMS Champions Creativity As First Most Contagious APAC 2023 Sponsor

Leading digital outdoor company QMS has announced it is the first-ever inaugural partner for Most Contagious APAC, the landmark London event by creative and strategic intelligence company Contagious, which will be showcased in Australia on Tuesday, 12 December in Sydney and Wednesday, 13 December in Melbourne. Most Contagious is an event that delivers key advertising […]

OMG’s Annalect First To Get Meta’s Advanced Analytics
  • Technology

OMG’s Annalect First To Get Meta’s Advanced Analytics

Omnicom’s data and analytics division Annalect has partnered with Meta, giving it access to Advanced Analytics (AA) – one of Meta’s privacy-focused measurement solutions – to provide Omnicom’s clients with future-proof, next-level measurement. Omnicom is the first holding company to have access to AA. AA allows advertisers to combine their first-party data with Meta’s ads […]

AKQA Launches Eco-Conscious AI DIY Assistant Encouraging People To Gift More Sustainably
  • Technology

AKQA Launches Eco-Conscious AI DIY Assistant Encouraging People To Gift More Sustainably

WPP’s AKQA has launched Fixmas.gift, an environmentally conscious AI-powered DIY assistant, affectionately known as Fixie, for a one-stop solution for all things repair. Fixmas.gift hosts an array of guides and inspiration to empower people to prolong the lives of their belongings or purchase pre-owned items that need a little love and care. Fixie can: Help […]

Marc Collister: AI & Automation Set To Revolutionise Creativity In 2024
  • Opinion

Marc Collister: AI & Automation Set To Revolutionise Creativity In 2024

Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]


by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Zeno Group Australia Bolsters Client Offerings With An Expanded Creative Services Portfolio & New Senior Leader
  • Marketing

Zeno Group Australia Bolsters Client Offerings With An Expanded Creative Services Portfolio & New Senior Leader

Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]

Assembled Media Inks TikTok Creator Campaign for BIC
  • Campaigns

Assembled Media Inks TikTok Creator Campaign for BIC

Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]

Big data and analytics visualization technology with scientist analyzing information structure on screen with machine learning to extract predictions for business, finance, internet of things
  • Media

IAB Launches Fourth Module In Its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series

IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]

Aerial view of a coal fired power station with large cooling towers emitting co2 into the atmosphere. With its lights already turned on the power station is illuminated in moody twilight.
  • Media

Scope3 Expands Carbon Measurement Capabilities To Include DOOH Advertising

Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising,  announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]

January 14, 2023 - New York, New York, USA: 2023 NRF Big Show press conference with Composition 2024 NRF Singapore.    Photo by Ian Wagreich / © Ian Wagreich Photography
  • Marketing

Now Open For Registration – NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific

NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]