Reddit advertising has received a really bad rap online. If you’re looking for information online regarding Reddit advertising, you’ll easily find complaints from about poor CTR, poor conversion rate and low ROI for businesses. In fact, the general consensus is that Reddit advertising just plain doesn’t work, and is the worst idea.

But it’s quite unfair to blame the Reddit advertising platform itself for the failure of these campaigns because that failure has nothing to do with the advertising system. Rather, the cause of this failure is down to the advertising strategy used by most advertisers.

The mistake that many marketers make is approaching Reddit advertising in the same way that they approach AdWords, Facebook or LinkedIn advertising. However, that is a fundamental mistake. Reddit is a completely unique platform with its own unique personality. It is unlike any other platform out there for that matter.

Now, if you’re a household brand or your product has received massive publicity, then you could probably get away with cold advertising on Reddit. But even then, you’ll generate far better results if you’re willing to engage in conversations around your product or brand. But the fact is, for most niches, you’re going to have to be a lot more strategic with your advertising.

And that is because of the nature of the platform. Self-promotion just doesn’t work on any level on Reddit. More than anything, Reddit generally hates anything that makes you seem like you’re only using Reddit as a place to promote your products or services, no matter what you’re selling. It really doesn’t matter whether it is an organic post or paid.

The fact of the matter is that Redditors just don’t like obvious, direct marketing or advertising. And that is the main reason why sponsored ads do not perform well on Reddit, not because of the Reddit advertising system itself. Reddit is a conversation-driven platform and any type of content that doesn’t encourage discussion or any type of self-promotional content will fall flat. Currently, the vast majority of self-serving advertising campaigns on Reddit don’t have any chance of being successful.

Reddit Ads vs Facebook Ads

Now, here’s why strategically marketing your business on Reddit could be a better option than any sort of Facebook advertising , especially if you’re a small B2B company.

However, certain businesses are always going to do better on Facebook than on Reddit. For example, if you have a unique, highly visual product, you’re likely to do well with targeted Facebook ads. Similarly, local bricks and mortar businesses like photographers, restaurants, retail shops or hairdressers tend to perform better with Facebook ads because of the powerful and precise targeting capabilities of the Facebook advertising interface.

The Reddit advertising interface is not on the same level as the Facebook ads manager. You can run sophisticated, precise and targeted campaigns on Facebook that you cannot run on.

But if you’re a small B2B company, an online business that sells digital products or you offer things like insurance, finance services and other professional service providers or your target market are young Americans, building a brand on Reddit would be a powerful option for you, and you can generate better results than you would on Facebook, particularly because of the highly targeted nature of subreddits.

Another reason is because of the authentic nature of Reddit. It is a community driven social community where people want to discover content that can add real value to their lives. Redditors want to engage in real conversations around content. If you have a real product or service that can add value to people’s lives, Reddit can help you achieve your goals as long as you’re willing to be open and transparent. And that is what is so special about Reddit. It really provides a powerful opportunity for most businesses to build strategic relationships with their target audiences around compelling content.

It is important to realize that people are in a completely different mindset on Reddit than when they are on Facebook. Facebook is just not built for that level of intimacy or interaction between businesses and consumers or between businesses. On the other hand, Reddit is a very intimate and personal platform with people that are looking to add value to their lives and solve problems. It is a community-driven platform, and the algorithms work according to the wishes of the community.

On Facebook, you have to setup a campaign to build an audience and then setup another campaign every time you wish to communicate with that audience. On the other hand, Reddit has a readymade community for practically every niche or industry you can think of.

Secondly, there is a fundamental flaw in the way that most people advertise on Facebook.

With Facebook ads, most advertisers target users by their interests. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, the problem is in the way that the Facebook algorithm determines those interests.

Let’s look at an example:

Say you’re marketing a high-end golf coaching course, and you want to market your product to golfers interested in improving their golfing skills. More than anything, you’ll want to show your ads to potential buyers of your course, not just golf fans.

Now, take me for instance. I like golf, and golf is one of my likes on Facebook. I also like a lot of golf-related Facebook pages. But I don’t play golf.

I’m what you would describe as a casual fan.

Would I join an online community or subreddit about golf? No. I don’t play golf, I’m simply a casual fan.

So, am I a potential buyer of your golf course? Of course not.

Yet, the Facebook algorithm would show your ad to me and to hundreds of thousands of casual golf fans like me simply because we like golf and the fact that we have liked a lot of golf related pages.

Now, if it’s a really nice and engaging ad, I might like the ad and click it to check out what it’s all about. But that’s not what you want. You don’t want people clicking your ad out of curiosity.

Ultimately, I will never become a customer, and I really shouldn’t be seeing your ads.

Instead of targeting casual fans, you should be looking for potential buyers. And that’s why many Facebook campaigns can easily generate tons of likes and shares and comments but very few conversions or sales. Because too many casual fans who will never become customers are being shown the ad.

On the other hand, on Reddit, there is a very active, readymade golf community with 150,000 like-minded members.

You don’t need to build an audience, because there is already an audience that is passionate about golf that you can market to on Reddit. You are better off joining this community, adding value, building your brand and strategically marketing your golf coaching course to potential buyers in this community. Of course you will have to become a redditor to get traction from the platform, but the fact is you’ll generate far better results for a fraction of the amount you’ll spend on Reddit ads. And you can apply this concept to virtually any industry on Facebook. Any other industry.

Reddit Targeting Changes

In September 2017, Reddit made some significant changes to the way users are targeted by ads on the platform. Before the change, ad targeting was contextual. This meant that you could restrict the display of your ad to the specific subreddit that is most relevant to your topic. But since September 2017, Reddit changed the targeting to behavioural so that anyone who has visited the subreddit you’re advertising to in the past can now see ads from that subreddit.

For example, if you’re advertising in r/bigseo, and I have visited that subreddit in the past, I will see your ad everywhere I go on Reddit. In addition, anyone that has visited r/bigseo in the past will able to see that ad in anywhere they go on Reddit. This is similar to the way users are targeted on Facebook and Google.

A concept that is known as remarketing.

Now, this means that more people who may not be interested in your topic can now see your ads depending on what subreddits they have visited in the past. However, this is not the fundamental reason why self-serving ads don’t do well on Reddit. For reasons we have already discussed, most self-serving ads on Reddit never had a chance of being successful in the first place. It is also worth noting that the reason Reddit changed the targeting in the first place was because of the low clickthrough rate of ads in their most relevant subreddits.