Reddit’s Big Plans for Search Ads

Well-loved and cherished social media platform Reddit is on the path to become just like the platforms it strives to differentiate from. As reported by Ivy Liu, Reddit is on the ‘quest to gather a large enough user base to attract brands without alienating its core audience’. 

Simply put, Reddit now faces the unique challenge of balancing its community driven culture with the increasing demands of monetization and mainstream appeal. 

While the platform aims to expand its user base to attract advertisers and brands, it risks compromising the authenticity of engagements valued by its core audience. 

This obviously involves Reddit having to delicately balance the act of integrating advertising in a way that feels organic whilst also respecting the established user experience. 

Why Search Ads? 

In Reddit’s latest First Earnings Call, Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit stated that ‘there are no ads today on search result pages. But that’s a very high performing product elsewhere on the internet. And I think there’s no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be for Reddit because the intention is so explicit when users are searching’. 

As reported by Liu, in 2024, despite the platform having had a 37% increase in daily active users, with ad revenue increasing by 39%, the business still incurred significantly more losses than gains. 

Hence, Reddit’s potential venture into search ads could be the platform’s way to improve its monetization efforts and overall profit.

Here’s why Reddit is inclined to integrate search ads: 

Revenue diversification: The introduction of search ads will enable Reddit to diversify its revenue streams beyond traditional displays and promoted posts. 

Reddit’s vast and highly engaged audience often utilize the platform for a range of purposes including seeking information, participating in discussions, sharing content, and finding community support. 

Such searches present high intent, thus making Reddit a highly profitable platform for ad targeting. As reported, Reddit traffic has tripled with search engines like Google prioritizing Reddit queries over that of other sites.

Reddit related meme suggesting that users prioritize reddit threats over google search results.

This presents traditional and digital marketers with the opportunity to capitalize on the platform’s enhanced value for searched ad targeting. 

Enhanced ad targeting: Search ads provide advertisers with an increasingly effective way to reach users based on their specific search queries.

Not only does this allow for highly relevant ad placements, but search ads can provide marketers with valuable data-driven insights such as user behavior, search patterns, and ad performance. 

Further Reading

This can be used to inform broader marketing strategies, helping in the refinement of ad targeting and overall campaign effectiveness. 

Monetizing existing traffic: Reddit’s user base is known to frequently use the search function to navigate the platform. By adding search ads, marketers can effectively monetize this behavior by leveraging on high intent searches with contextually relevant ads situated next to them. 

This relevance can lead to higher click-through leads (CTR) and better overall ad performance, making the ad space more valuable and in-demand to advertisers. 

Business growth: It is clear that as Reddit continues to grow and seeks new ways to expand its user base and profitability, search ads act as a scalable and sustainable advertising solution. 

Not only will Reddit be able to compete with other major platforms that already offer this ad format (Google, Amazon, YouTube), but due to its prominence in search engines, it can also attract a larger share of advertising budgets from brands and businesses.

Meme suggesting the over saturation of ads on digital platforms

Does this impact Reddit’s credibility?

Well, it depends on how users perceive the incorporation of search ads. 

Reddit aims to implement a ‘mixed feed’ ad format. This combines both organic posts and ads which aims to seamlessly integrate the ads into the user experience. If you are a niche marketer say in the subreddit about SEO, seeing a paid ads management ads may confuse and trigger poor user experience.

As a platform that thrives on ‘decentralized content moderation’, Reddit’s credibility could be affected if users feel that the ads are not clearly differentiated from organic content or if there are concerns about data privacy in relation to search ad targeting. 

Moreover, if the ‘mixed feed’ format disrupts the user experience by overwhelming users with ads, it could deter them from utilizing the platform for what it has always been intended for: genuine user interaction. 

Some users might also perceive Reddit’s shift towards more advertising and monetization options as a prioritization of financial goals over community interests. 

Bottom line: While the incorporation of search ads is intended to boost revenue as well as attract and benefit both the platform and advertisers, it needs to carefully navigate how it might impact users’ experience and trust.