Tools for Transparency: Reddit’s Self-Serve Advertising

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RedditIt’s often easy to fall into the trap of relying solely on social media as a means of promotion: Most folks just aren’t comfortable with the thought of formally advertising a project or event, and from cost to complexity, it’s easier to stick with what we already know, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and email.

At the same time, self-serve advertising — which lends itself towards ease of use and affordability — has caught on amongst many advertisers, Google AdWords being among the largest. This type of advertising also makes it dead simple to experiment and limit your spending as you become more comfortable with the idea of online advertising.

Since Sunlight already advertises with Facebook and Google, we thought we’d try out other services in the hopes of reaching new demographics. Reddit, which I’ve written about in the past, launched a self-serve sponsored links beta program in January of 2009 and officially launched at the end of that year, giving us to the opportunity to market to a new audience.

Reddit’s platform is unique in that it functions much like a regular Reddit submission. Users can vote, leave comments, share or hide the advertisement as they wish. Plus, it’s also quite inexpensive, cheaper than many other comparable services, and it reaches a very nuanced audience.

Reddit-ad We ran our first sponsored link in August, promoting Poligraft and since that time have run three additional campaigns, with a fourth campaign in the works. Our click-through rates (CTR) have been as high as 1.08% and as low as .03% (our last campaign), while we’ve also seen cost-per-clicks (CPC) as low as .88¢ and as high as 2.90$.

While both the CPC and the CTR for each campaign have varied, in general what we are seeing is consistent engagement on the Sunlight side. Traffic coming from Reddit-sponsored links tend to stay for at least half a minute to almost 45 seconds, viewing three and a half to four pages per visit with a bounce rate under 85%.

Ultimately, engagement is the point of advertising: we want to bring people to our sites and have them use our products, and we’re not the only ones who have gotten this experience from Reddit’s service. Gabriel Weinberg, who runs the search engine Duck Duck Go, has a great write-up on his experience advertising with Reddit and the high ROI he had after running his ad for for 13 days. A few points Weinberg notes — and that we’ve definitely seen — are that Redditors are an active audience: they actually try out your site, actually comment on your content, and that engaging with the community helps with other Reddit submissions. Sure, the CPM and CPC varies widely by day, but folks still mention the ads Weinberg long after he posted them.

Protip: You need to become a Reddit member in order to advertise, but this is a great opportunity for you: take the time to check out some of the more popular posts and advertisements on the site, how they are written and how people respond to them in the comments before you start your campaign.

Though we’ve added Reddit sponsored links to the stable of platforms we use to advertise Sunlight properties, we’ll continue to use Google and Facebook ads, as well as social media endorsements. For those of us puzzling how to share the great projects, interesting blogs and events we’re holding related to transparency, remember that though social media is great, good old fashion advertising works well, too…and Reddit is a great platform for running an effective, inexpensive campaign.

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