Reddit teaches brands like Samsung and Snickers how to do fan-friendly ads

KarmaLab is a special unit that works with marketers to create ad campaigns without turning off fans.

Reddit teaches brands like Samsung and Snickers how to do fan-friendly ads

Reddit launched an in-house creative agency to help brands farm “karma,” which is the point system that users of the site rely on to show appreciation for content—and ads. The more “karma” a post receives the higher it appears on a given subreddit, which are the communities that make up Reddit.

On Thursday, Reddit announced the creation of the internal creative marketing team called KarmaLab, which has already worked with brands like Samsung and Snickers to create ad campaigns tailored for the site.

Reddit has had a “creative strategy” team before, but the new unit is meant to formalize how the company works with marketers that are interested in reaching its 52 million daily users. A lot of advertisers are still unsure how the site works, though. Resonating on Reddit can be a good way for a brand to hone its skills communicating with an online audience that speaks in a language of obscure memes and acronyms.

For instance, when Samsung wanted to promote 5G data speeds, it created a campaign asking the Reddit community to “ELI5” the technology. Reddit users understand “ELI5” to mean “explain like I’m 5,” which is their way of asking to dumb-down technical subjects, a favorite genre on Reddit. There is a subreddit devoted specifically to “ELI5” breakdowns.

There are tens of thousands of subreddits dedicated to special interests, niche internet subjects, and topics with popular appeal. Some subreddits are “question-and-answer” forums, where celebrities and other high-profile people ask Reddit to “Ask Me Anything”—or AMA. There are gaming subreddits, sports, politics, and every other kind of community.

In the announcement about KarmaLab, Reddit also highlighted a campaign with Snickers, the Mars Wrigley brand. Snickers targeted gamer communities with ads that featured imagery and language more familiar to those fans.

“When Snickers wanted to more deeply engage with Reddit’s audience and ‘power up’ their Promoted Posts, the brand worked with KarmaLab,” Reddit said in its announcement on Thursday, “who hosted a creative workshop to develop a media strategy and visuals that evoked the themes of nostalgia and enjoyment in gaming with fun nods to the audiences’ favorite games.”

Reddit perhaps gained the most attention within the past year for the “Wall Street Bets” community, which is a forum for irreverent stock market enthusiasts. The Reddit crowd helped drive interest in GameStop as a stock, and the ensuing surge in share price shined a light on the power of the platform.

Reddit, however, has had trouble crossing over into mainstream marketing. Brands are unsure when to allow Reddit members to comment on their ads, or whether they will be well received.

Reddit is starting to pick up more advertisers, though, and last year the company reported that it topped $100 million in ad revenue for the first time in 2019, and projected it would hit $1 billion in ad revenue in “two to three years.”

“We’re really early in our life cycle in the advertising business that is competitive with our peers, so I’m actually really happy with where we are, because with our growth rates that gets us closer,” Jen Wong, Reddit’s chief operating officer, told Ad Age in December.