Depending on who you ask, Reddit is the least valued social network or prized for being one of the fastest-growing “link-sharing forums.” But don’t get fooled by hyperbole. When you’re looking to reach voters, raise name ID, and do deep dives into how people engage online around politics, what’s a better catch-all platform?
Stereotyped as the internet home to the nerds, the meme queens, and the “I saw that content three days ago” snobs, Reddit gets 1.4 billion video views per month. What’s more 4 percent of U.S. adults report they use the site. Still, when it comes to political ads they’ve never been at the top, or even on, a political ad schedule. Ignored, except for the occasional AMA, despite 78 percent of the site’s 330 million monthly active users saying they get their news from Reddit.
Now, Reddit is like the Wild West of the internet. It’s raw. It’s anonymous. Next to anything goes.
And for some candidates and campaigns, that’s enough to keep them from spending ad dollars on the platform.
But it would be a mistake to completely overlook Reddit as a viable option for raising name ID, engagement, and ultimately acquisition. Because Reddit hasn’t fully “sold out” to mainstream ad buying, the content and its users are largely an untapped market of ad inventory.
To sweeten the pot, Redditors spend an average of 15 minutes and 47 seconds on the platform, compared to Facebook’s 11 minutes and Twitter’s 6 minutes and 23 seconds. Finally, since content is prioritized by users upvoting and downvoting the quality and relevance, there’s a high level of trust behind content.
When it comes to advertising on Reddit, their new ad buying platform has opened up a number of familiar targeting opportunities: You can now target by location, interest (both broad and narrow), and device type. What makes Reddit advertising unique is the ability to serve ads based on hyper-specific interest areas (or subreddits for those playing along at home).
For example, if you have a Democratic candidate who’s looking to expand your reach into the South, taking out an ad on https://www.reddit.com/r/CornbreadLiberals would be a great place to start.
Finally, with the conversion tracking pixel and their semi-new ad buying dashboard, you can easily monitor your impressions, cost per click (CPC), and click-through rate (CTR).
So then, why aren’t more campaigns using Reddit to reach and engage with voters?
Unlike the other major social media sites and platforms, they’re not primed for campaign ads. There’s no automatically placed disclaimer, and no political advertising department to outreach to for assistance. And if the user experience is the Wild West of content, Reddit’s ad-buying process is similarly the Wild West of approvals. If your campaign is trying to serve rapid-response content, don’t count on your ad being approved in time for that late-afternoon Hill vote.
Similarly, while Reddit does offer a tracking pixel, it’s pretty rudimentary and doesn’t always fire with 100 percent accuracy.
What does this all mean for the future of political advertising on Reddit?
While Reddit hasn’t historically been a platform for political advertising, their marked improvements to their ad platform are promising for upcoming cycles. If they can streamline their process, refine their tech, and continue to update their dashboard and targeting options, advertising on Reddit is a huge opportunity to get in front of millions of users.
Cheryl Hori is the founder of Pacific Campaign House, a progressive digital campaign firm.