Reddit is beginning to show users video ads that play automatically, albeit with the sound off, among other moves designed to encourage more video consumption and advertising on the platform.
On Thursday, the so-called Front Page of the Internet took the wraps off its first homegrown video experience, meaning users won't have to rely on links from outside video sites like YouTube to share video. Its new video player lets people upload directly to the app or website.
Reddit, which counts 50,000 sub-communities, is trying to transition to a platform with mass-media appeal from a hub of niche interests. It raised $200 million from investors last month to help fuel that effort.
Reddit tested the video tools, which also include GIF-making powers, among select subreddits, as its individual communities are called. Members of the golfing subreddit, for example, have been uploading videos of their swings and getting feedback from other members. The subreddits can be a little silly, like one for hair, where people posted 360-degree views of their heads and asked for style advice.
Reddit's core function lets the community vote on users' posts, elevating the biggest vote-getters on the page. Comments work the same way. Video has always been an important format in the site, but it previously directed people outside Reddit to sites like YouTube and Imgur.
Reddit wants to keep that traffic, and make video a more integral experience.
"It's our fastest growing product," said Zubair Jandali, Reddit's VP of sales.
Advertisers like the sports streaming site Dazn and the movie studio A24 have tested autoplay video ads, which appear in people's feeds as they scroll down the screen.
Reddit can be a tough place for brands to win over audiences because many users are skeptical of commercialization. And many people, on Reddit or off, consider autoplay video ads annoying.
Reddit hopes its in-house creative agency will be able to work with brands to create video posts that work for its users. "How Reddit will be different is that there will be a conversational and commenting component," Jandali said.
The video ads will stick to the top of the screen while allowing people to scroll through comments on them.
Reddit is chasing Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and others that made video a core part of their platforms. Some have been more successful than others.
Facebook has been pushing a new mid-stream video format, last week introduced a tab dedicated to video called Watch.
One potential problem for Reddit as it wades into video is piracy of copyrighted content, according to Chris Pavlovski, CEO of Rumble, a video site that helps creators manage their videos. Facebook and YouTube have invested heavily in technology to identify copyrights and still have issues with people posting stolen video.
"Reddit will run into a lot of the same problems," Pavlovski said. "And they'll have a tougher time than most other platforms because there is a lot of infringement by Reddit users."