When Garrett Gillas started running Reddit ads for Stackery, a cloud computing service, the comments appeared quickly and often. They ranged from irrelevant to inappropriate to just plain weird.
“After two weeks, you just have to shut [the comments] down,” says Gillas, growth marketing lead at Stackery. “You can’t spend all day waiting for comments to come and delete them.”
As Reddit expands its ad offerings, brands such as Stackery are still figuring out how and when to engage users on a platform known for its fervent user base. Some decide not to allow comments on promoted posts, while brands like Under Armour and Samsung are testing the waters of open comments.
The choice to enable comments depends on a campaign’s goal, says Will Cady, Reddit’s head of brand strategy. In some cases, turning comments off increases click-through rates of ads trying to drive traffic to an external link. But "unlocking" ads to allow comments might best serve brands hoping to build community and hear from consumers, Reddit says.
"We have advertisers that do both [locked and unlocked ads]," Cady says.
But “locking” these ads could be a missed opportunity for brands looking to get the kind of targeted feedback Reddit offers, some Redditors say. The site’s division into more than a million “subreddits,” or communities, underscores a brand’s ability to target ads by area of interest.
Some users have pegged the locked ads as out of touch with the platform’s signature goals: discussion and interaction.
Indeed, “if you’re going to run an ad on a post section of Reddit, engage in same way that users are engaging with each other,” says James McNally, client services director at Insense, a custom content platform. “With Reddit, the name of the game is putting up a post or a link.”
But posting an unlocked ad can pose a challenge, says Azher Ahmed, director of digital at DDB.
“If you can put something up and not deal with the backlash and the cynicism that Reddit famous for, you can survive anywhere,” he says.