Reddit has announced plans to offer a new form of promotional post to advertisers. Companies will be able to sponsor a post submitted by a user, as long as the individual responsible for the content gives their consent.
This strategy demonstrates the site’s eagerness to utilize the viral potential of content posted to the site. Enthusiast subreddits are hot spots for the most devoted fans of a particular product or property, and the original content that they produce is often more engaging than a sales pitch ever could be.
The example given in an interview carried out by Ad Age with Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is a giant replica of a Taco Bell hot sauce packet that was painted by a Reddit user in 2014. Starting on August 4, the fast food company could sponsor this post and see the content pushed to users via the sections of the homepage dedicated to ads.
Of course, Reddit would ask the user for permission before running the content as an ad. If they do not respond or refuse, the company isn’t allowed to sponsor the post — but if the user accepts, they’re entitled to a lifetime subscription to the site’s premium service, Reddit Gold.
Reddit is building an internal team to help flag posts that would be suitable for this kind of marketing, according to a report from The Verge. This group will seek out usable content, working directly with potential advertisers to ensure that the posts reflect their branding.
Some Reddit users will no doubt resist this move, as an uptick in advertising could be seen as a step away from the site being a platform for open discussion. That being said, Reddit needs money if it’s to continue to grow and evolve, and this sponsored post program seems to be a clever method of raising revenue while also cutting down on traditional ad content.