I'm subscribed to a bunch of e-mail newsletters that send me articles about growth, marketing and business - and for the most part, they're a pile of crap. However, I was recently sent a link to the results of a Reddit Advertising experiment run by Growth Ladder and Experiment 27, which absolutely caught my attention.
You can read the original article here, and my thoughts below.
As an avid user of Reddit, and also a business owner with an interest in marketing, I've always been fascinated with the idea of paid advertising on Reddit. After all, I once made a single post on Reddit that resulted in about 20k of pledges to my Kickstarter campaign in a 24 hour period, so the idea that you could pay for this sort of exposure is super appealing.
Unfortunately, Reddit advertising has a reputation in the industry for providing a really low ROI. That is, if you spend money on reddit ads, you're basically setting that money on fire. But I've always wondered how true this was, so I was keen to read the Growth Ladder article where they actually put this to the test.
To sum up the article (spoiler alert), they find that paying for advertising on Reddit is, in fact, a really low ROI activity. And it's really cool to see some data around that.
However, I had a few observations that I'd like to share with you fellow Steemians:
1) I don't think they're targeting the right interests, or subreddits
If I was looking to sell marketing agency services to reddit, I'd focus on very specific subreddits. /r/entrepreneur, /r/smallbusiness, /r/juststart, /r/marketing, etc. You know, people that have businesses, that might be interested in hiring a marketing agency. From what I can tell, in both of the two tests that they run, they didn't really focus on those specific subreddits.
They don't actually go into too much detail in their targeting, and most of it is sped up in the videos, but in one of the videos I can see him select people with an interest in "technology" for one test, and "art and design" in another test. If Alex Berman ever joins Steemit, maybe we can get some clarification, because I feel like he should know better, but from what I can see this targeting is just not right for selling marketing services.
2) I'm not sure their product is right for reddit
I guess this is somewhat related to the targeting, because the truth is that there are all kinds of people who would probably buy digital marketing services, that use reddit, but I guess it comes back to the notion that redditors hate, HATE advertising. People posting things with the intention to sell to fellow redditors tend to be ruthlessly downvoted into oblivion.
And, for business owners, that means Reddit has become a bit of a safe-haven, to talk about business matters that are important to them, without having someone trying to sell them something. So when you're a business owner, browsing a sub you're interested in and see advertising at the top for a marketing agency, you're not going to get super excited.
I think if you had a general consumer product, that was kind of neat or had some other appeal to the typical redditor, I think you'd see much better engagement.
3) Their cost per click was pretty good
In their second experiment, they paid $50 for about 900 clicks.. or about 5.5 cents per click. I'm not an expert in paid advertising, but this seems to be pretty damn good!
Assuming that Reddit isn't charging their customers for a ton of spam/bot traffic, then it seems odd that they were unable to generate a single lead from the campaign. I mean, it's possible that reddit users don't come on reddit with a purchasing mindset, but I simply don't think that's the case. If they're willing to buy from organic posts, then they've got the buyer mindset... as long as they click through, you've got a chance.
I think it's much more likely that either the message in the ad copy didn't align with what the visitor was seeing on the landing page, or that the landing page simply wasn't optimised to convert visitors into customers. Though I'll admit both of these seem unlikely given the company running the experiment
4) The Experiment was from 2016
Why on earth did I receive an e-mail in January 2018 with a link to an article written in September, 2016?
I'll be honest - I didn't actually realise how old this article was until I was half-way through writing this post... which is kind of annoying. It boggles the mind that companies think recycling content like this is a good idea. There's simply no way that the results of this experiment can still be said to be true in 2018.
I thought it was great to actually see somebody experimenting and writing a case study about their experience with Reddit Ads, rather than just believing "what everyone says".
After reading through their article, I've come up with two key conclusions:
1) Organic content always wins
This is actually covered in the Growth Ladder article, but one thing to really consider as to whether paying for ads on Reddit is useful, is that you can already get enormous traffic by making a post to reddit that scores really well with the reddit population. The downside, of course, is that this can be a bit hit-and-miss - particularly with the reddit crew, who can be extremely fickle!
2) The fact that everyone thinks Reddit Ads ROI is bad is a HUGE opportunity
Think about it. If nobody is spending money on reddit ads, then it means that the cost of running ads on reddit is extremely cheap. 5.5 cents per click? That's amazing! I think as long as this reputation of Reddit's ad platform persists, then there's a real opportunity for people to use it as a cheap form of advertising.
Overall, this article makes me want to run my own experiments, to see how some of my business projects go. Has anyone else had any experience with Advertising on Reddit?