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Mar 20, 2024
(Updated on
Mar 20, 2024

The New Reddit Ads Look Like User-Generated Content

Reddit has just released a new type of ad called "free-form ads," which look a lot like regular user-generated posts. This announcement, made in preparation for Reddit's impending initial public offering (IPO), marks a strategic move aimed at enhancing engagement for advertisers. The free-form ads are meticulously designed to blend seamlessly with the organic content shared by users, potentially offering advertisers an avenue for maximum engagement. However, while this format may present an appealing proposition for advertisers seeking to integrate their messages more naturally into users' feeds, it also raises concerns among users regarding the intrusion of ads that mimic regular posts.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Rolled out recently, this format enables advertisers on Reddit to incorporate multiple media formats—text, images, and videos—into a single ad unit, allowing for more comprehensive engagement with audiences. Inspired by the popular user post type known as the "megathread," which serves as a platform for in-depth discussions on various topics, Reddit aims to foster meaningful interactions between brands and users through this format. By providing templates within Reddit's Ads Manager for purposes such as "brand introductions" and "product deep dives," the company seeks to streamline the ad creation process, empowering advertisers to connect with audiences effectively.

Jim Squires, Reddit's Executive Vice President of Business Marketing and Growth, underscores the platform's reputation as a hub for seeking recommendations across diverse interest categories. With the introduction of Free-Form Ads, Reddit endeavors to tap into users' inclination towards seeking advice and information, offering advertisers an opportunity to leverage this behavior to their advantage. Early testing of the format with prominent clients such as Just Eat Takeaway, Leica, and Kraft Heinz has yielded promising results, demonstrating the format's efficacy in driving engagement and click-through rates. With features allowing for up to 40,000 characters of text, customization options, and embeddable links, Free-Form Ads offer advertisers ample flexibility to craft compelling narratives and drive meaningful interactions.

Notably, Kraft Heinz leveraged the Free-Form Ad format to promote the versatility of its Philadelphia Cream Cheese product beyond traditional uses like bagels or cheesecake. By creating content that resonated with Reddit's culinary community, including recipe inspiration and product details, the brand facilitated a dialogue that felt organic and authentic. This approach resulted in over 1,000 comments within a month, showcasing the potential for brands to integrate seamlessly into Reddit's ecosystem while fostering genuine engagement.

Photo by Kim Menikh on Unsplash

Reddit's focus remains on providing advertisers with tailored solutions across the entire sales funnel, from driving brand awareness to prompting user action. Free-form ads, positioned as an upper-funnel engagement tool, align with Reddit's mission of facilitating authentic interactions and driving brand awareness. As Reddit continues to refine its advertising offerings and explore new avenues for revenue growth, the platform remains dedicated to providing advertisers with the tools and resources necessary to succeed in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

To maintain transparency, Reddit ensures that users can readily distinguish between free-form ads and standard posts through a prominent "Promoted" label displayed next to the company's name on an ad. This labeling mechanism aims to preserve the integrity of user-generated content while facilitating a clear differentiation between organic and sponsored material.

Initial testing of the free-form ads indicates promising results, with a notable 28% increase in average click-through rates (CTR) compared to other ad types, accompanied by heightened community engagement, particularly when comments are enabled. Jim Squires, Reddit's Executive Vice President of Business Marketing and Growth, emphasizes the flexibility that free-form ads offer, allowing advertisers to create ads of various lengths and formats while maintaining a native appearance within the platform. 

As of the announcement, the new ad format is readily available to all advertisers globally through Reddit's Ads Manager platform. This accessibility underscores Reddit's commitment to providing marketers with innovative tools to effectively reach their target audiences while fostering a symbiotic relationship between advertisers and the platform's diverse user base.

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