Reddit Advertising: A Beginner's Guide To The Self-Serve Platform

By JD Prater | @JDPrater | Head of Social Media at Hanapin Marketing

Started in 2005, Reddit has become known as “The Front page of the Internet,” where users share what’s new and popular on the web. As the 9th largest website in the US, Reddit is one of the top influential news sources and home to over 600,000 communities aka subreddits. 

At first glance, Reddit can be daunting and a mess to understand. Mashable sums it nicely in their beginner’s guide:


“Simply put, Reddit is a message board wherein users submit links. What differentiates it from a real-time information network like Twitter is that the stream of content is curated by the community. Items of value are “upvoted,” and those deemed unworthy are “downvoted.” This determines a post’s position on the site, and items that hit the front page are seen by hundreds of thousands of people (consequently, sending boatloads of traffic to the linked website).”


At its core, Reddit contains elements of a discussion board, social networking site and messaging service where users find, share, rate, and discuss content and opinion in real time from all over of the web. With such a passionate community, it can be difficult for marketers to know where to begin.


Who Uses Reddit?


Let’s start by understanding who’s on the platform. According to Reddit, their audience is home to 234 million unique visitors comprised of 53% males and 47% females.


More Reddit fun facts:


  • United States/International: 54%/46%
  • Pageviews: 8.19 billion/month
  • Avg Time per Session: 13+ minutes
  • Users cast 25 million votes a day


PEW Research Center also released their own study on Reddit users and concluded:


  • 71% of Reddit news users are men
  • 59% are between the ages of 18 and 29
  • Reddit news users are also heavy internet users: 47% report going online almost constantly (compared with 21% of U.S. adults overall)
  • 2% of U.S. adults get news on Reddit


PEW Research Center Reddit Users
Source PEW Research Center


Why Advertise On Reddit?


As one of the last bastions of free speech on the Internet, Reddit’s user growth continues to climb over the last five years. For savvy marketers, there are amazing opportunities to reach new audiences in a profitable way for those who know how to execute campaigns.


reddit user growth
Source Statista


Plus, marketers are seeing positive revenue per visit compared to other channels. According to Adobe’s Social for Adobe Digital Index, referral revenue per visit from Reddit increased 80% YoY. That’s larger growth than any other social network where Twitter (+63%) saw an increase and both Facebook (-17%) and Pinterest (-25%) saw declines.


Reddit revenue
Source Adobe Blog


After analyzing the data on Reddit’s user base, growth trends and revenue per visit, marketers may want to take a look at the platform.


How To Set Up Your First Reddit Ads Campaign


Getting started is simple as ads can be created with any Reddit account. If you already have a Reddit username, navigate over to or scroll down to the bottom of any Reddit page and click “advertise” to get started on creating your campaign.


Step #1 – Add Thumbnail Image


Add a 140×140 square image, typically your logo. While optional, I recommend including it in your ad to help it stand out as it can lead to a higher CTR.


Reddit thumbnail


Step #2 – Add Mobile Ad Image


The great part about the 1200X628 image size is it’s the same size for Facebook and Yahoo! Gemini. This image will be displayed on mobile web as a 600X314 image.


Reddit mobile ad image


Step #3 – Input Your Title Or Headline


This is where you will input the message for your promotion. This message is ultimately what viewers will read. Keep in mind that you have up to 300 characters. However, it’s recommended to stay concise (100 characters or less) and informative with your headline title.


Reddit title

Reddit ad
Actual Reddit ad from Showtime marketing the series premiere of Roadies.


Step #4 – Choose Your Post Type


There are two different types of ads on Reddit. The first is a standard link post ad that sends users to a URL of your choice. The second is a text post ad which includes an embedded text box with a custom message and unlimited character count.


To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to select the link post ad. To drive more conversation, try using the text post ad.


Next, include your destination URL and don’t forget your UTM tracking parameters.


Reddit Post Type


Step #5 – Comments


This option is a little thorny for marketers. Reddit strongly recommends enabling the comments section on your ad.


Here’s why, “this section provides a space for Redditors to connect with you, the advertiser, by asking questions and leaving comments about your Reddit promotion. Comments are 100% organic and give you the opportunity to see feedback about your promotion in real-time. Advertisers can engage with Redditors through this section by answering and engaging in these organic comments.”


Ultimately, this decision is up to you. People are allowed to comment on your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn ads so I advise to leave them on, but just know that your ad could be trolled by Redditors. However, if you don’t have someone available to answer comments then I would disable them.


Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 7.51.13 AM


Step #6 – Ad Targeting


Reddit offers two main ways to target your ads, either by interests or specific subreddits. You can also select which country or city-level targeting currently available for 210 U.S. metro areas.


Reddit targeting


Targeting Interest Groups Or The Front Page


Reddit offers the ability to target Reddit interest group audiences, including the front page. Below are the interests you can target.


  • Reddit front page
  • Food and drink
  • News and current affairs
  • Entertainment
  • Sports and fitness
  • College
  • Automotive
  • Shopping and fashion
  • Travel
  • Gaming
  • Technology
  • After dark
  • Art and design
  • Trending topics
  • Pets
  • Politics


These interest group audiences, with the exception of the front page influencers group, are collections of Reddit subreddits composed of highly passionate users and the topics they love.


Reddit interests


You can mix and match interest groups as you like but make sure your ad is relevant to each group or run the risk of making Redditors upset.


Targeting Subreddits


One of my favorite features about Reddit advertising is the ability to target specific communities or ‘subreddits.’ Each subreddit is dedicated to a specific topic or interest and therefore contains a targeted demographic. Start researching if there are specific subreddits related to your business that you could potentially target with ads.


reddit subreddits


Platform Targeting


Reddit give marketers the option to select which platform they want their ads to run on. Keep in mind, how your website looks on mobile and what the desired action is for your ad. Those two things may keep you from running on mobile. You may also try running the same ad as a desktop only campaign and a mobile-only campaign to better understand how each platform performs.


Reddit ad platforms


Step #7 – Budgets And Schedules


You’re almost done! It’s time to select your budget and finalize your schedule. Input your total budget and be aware that you can accelerate your delivery just like in AdWords.


Bonus tip from Reddit, “if your ad under delivers, you will automatically receive your refund once your campaign has ended. Please allow 5-7 business days for the funds to return to your account.”


Reddit Budgets


Schedule your start and end dates. The “duration” section of the campaign dashboard confirms the number of days your promotion will run.


Reddit Schedule


Step #8 – CPM Pricing


Reddit ads are priced by CPM and not by CPC. Type in the maximum that you’re willing to pay per 1,000 impressions. If you want to estimate your CPC then look at your AdWords Display campaigns CTR as a baseline metric. From there you can do some marketing math to establish your potential CPC.


Reddit CPM Pricing


Step #9 – Add Payment And Launch


Once you’re done editing the details of the ad, click the orange “+close” button. This adds the campaign target to your dashboard.


You created your campaign, but that doesn’t mean it launched. You still need to add payment details to your campaign before it can run. Keep in mind that the self-serve platform only takes credit cards.


After submitting payment, your ad will automatically enter the approval queue. Reddit requires 1 business day to approve your ad so make sure to buffer that time into your flight plan.


A Few Parting Thoughts


Reddit advertising isn’t for everyone. I highly recommend that you do your homework on subreddits and get familiar with the platform before diving in. I’ve seen brands not understand key components of the platform and users lash out as a result. Lastly, remember to be human and interact with the community by answering questions and providing relevant information. Reddit users don’t like outsiders interjecting into their conversations without providing value, and frankly neither do I!


Have you tried Reddit ads? What types of results have you seen? Hit me up on Twitter @jdprater and let me know!