Upvotes, Downvotes & Reddiquette: Reddit Advertising Vets Share their Results

reddit banner

Social media advertising has become an essential part of many brands’ marketing strategies. Despite their flaws, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, and even youTube ads have shown to be effective for a variety of brands in a variety of industries. That said, some social networks’ advertising platforms leave something to be desired. We previously wrote about Yelp ads, and shared some less-than-stellar reviews from Yelp advertising veterans. Now, we’re taking a closer look at Reddit ads, through the eyes of those who’ve used the platform. Is it worth adding to your social advertising strategy? Here’s what these Reddit ads vets had to say.

“I’m disappointed in my ads results.”

Carey MartellMartell TV used the platform to help promote his projects, including Martell TV. Not only did he fail to receive his desired results, he faced scorn from the community. “I have spent probably around $800 total into Reddit ads and had no positive experiences. In fact, the account I did the paid ads on got heavily downvoted / reported on every post I ever made on it, until the thing was ghosted, and the Reddit staff refused to lift the ghost status. They called me a spammer.”

Martell believes that the community’s negative attitude towards self-promotion has, unfortunately, carried over to individuals who even buy advertising space. “What I’ve discovered is that, unless you also hire people to astro-turf your Reddit ad to build up initial positive feedback, the only people interested in commenting on your ad are trolls who want to cause trouble. The admins tell people not to ‘self-promote’ and then encourage users to discourage it, and this attitude carries over to those who conduct paid ads.”

Digital Content Developer Zach Urbina saw similar problems. “On paper, it looked like a great fit. However, I was consistently disappointed with our experience and would not recommend it to other advertisers who are seeking sales. While the Reddit community is particularly active among younger males, the Reddit ad platform does not provide too much beyond an impression-based (CPM) ad service.  The campaigns I’ve managed on Reddit have shown lower than average engagement versus Facebook ads (our Reddit campaign click-thru rate = 0.05%).”

While Urbina acknowledges that there are a number of variables that could account for an ad’s poor performance, he believes Reddit’s ad platform could stand a little improvement. “Of course, there could be other variables responsible for low engagement: The price of the product, the creative copy, etc. However, when other more dynamic platforms feature ads that lead to sales, it’s difficult not to glare at the Reddit product team a bit, in hopes that their parent company might shore up some development dollars for their ad exchange. When it comes to digital ads, if a platform can measure clicks, the advertiser should be able to pay per click (CPC). These days, Google and Facebook are running diverse, nuanced, and dynamic ad exchanges that offer a multitude of targeting options.  Facebook, in particular, has emerged as a clear winner in the ability to target ads to individuals who are interested in the offer and more likely to both click and convert.”

“Reddit is a great way to help boost your content.”

David Neuman, Social Media Manager from Prime Visibility, has seen very different results, although he admits that he’s approached the platform from a different angle. “I’ve found Reddit ads to be a great way to help boost your content. That being said, you need to know the community well to really see success from it (even on the ad side). While you can certainly achieve success selling product, we’ve found that by promoting blog posts/article content we’re able to achieve better results overall. “It needs to be ‘good’ content, and advertisers need to make sure that they’re selecting the appropriate subreddits when advertising. We had a health client that had an entire content site dedicated to providing health blog posts, insights, tips, etc. We tapped into the ‘Health’ community on Reddit and were able to generate 250,000 visits in a single day at a cost of only $200 because of the organic growth it received.”

Kevin Ohashi, Founder, Review Signal, is also an experienced Reddit advertiser, but he also recognizes that the system has its shortcomings. “I advertise on Reddit pretty regularly. The results really depend on content and subreddit. My company does web hosting reviews, so buying out very specific subreddits where the audience might be interested in what I provide has been worth it. However, a lot of campaigns have failed because the targeting/messaging hasn’t been right. It’s not a very sophisticated advertising system, so it’s hard to get it working well.”

Finding a Happy Medium

The quality of the content or product you’re trying to promote, and your experience using the platform itself can have a huge influence on your ad’s results. Even the experienced vets acknowledge that there’s a bit of a learning curve, and that knowledge of Reddit itself is pretty essential if you’re looking for results. Given this information, the best approach to appealing to the Reddit community might just be through normal, non-promoted content.

Steve Levine, Digital Marketing Manager, Jampaper.com, has embraced this approach. “Although I never used a paid Reddit ad, I have put out ‘natural’ ads before (posting under a coworker’s personal account). The reason I never chose to use a paid ad is because, as you may know, the Reddit community has a stigma of being generally anti-corporate, anti-adverts. Whenever I read the comments on a paid ad, they tend to be cynical and confrontational to the advertiser. Because of this, whenever I have an interesting piece of content to share, I tend to post it to a certain subreddit and just be honest about my motivation for it. I think Reddit is best used to promote good content naturally. Paid ads won’t do too well.”