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On a visitor perspective, this seems undervalued. This is a 50% or more discount to the market-cap/unique visitor ratio of Twitter, Snap, and Facebook.[1] And all the stats I've seen indicate much higher user engagement and time on site for Reddit compared to the other social platforms.

The biggest issue is of course that their monetization is horrible. Like 95% lower per user than the other socials.[2] So the real question an investor should ask is whether this is fixable? Or is there something intrinsic to Reddit traffic that makes it difficult to monetize? Either way, Reddit should be throwing an insane amount of money and equity to get a Sheryl Sandberg like executive with a track record of juicing monetization.

[1]https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/1/21754984/reddit-dau-daily... [2]https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/reddit-users-are-the-least-v...

One thing that they do not seem to be taking advantage of is how specialized many of their communities are. It seems primed for letting advertisers target to specific audiences, but as a user I don't really feel like the ads I get are targeted to what I read at all? Maybe I am uninformed but it seems like an advertising goldmine that hasn't been taken advantage of.

If you are a PC components retailer, users of /r/buildapc seems like an ideal audience to target for advertising. Camera retailer, where better than /r/photography? Cookware - advertise in /r/cooking. Repeat ad infinitum across every niche interest on the site.

They should be able to enable advertisers to do really effective targeting of campaigns. Is this not possible with their current ad tools, or are they not selling the capabilities to advertisers well enough? Or is there not actually that much money in targeted ads, is all the money in generic ads like Coca-Cola & cars?

I tried to advertise a product to a very niche group on reddit. I just wanted to select 4 specific sub-reddits and advertise to anyone that was a member or viewed that reddit.

For some reason, reddit wouldn't let me advertise to 3 of the 4, and the 1 that they did let me advertise was very low volume (less than 100 members). I couldn't even get reddit to show a single ad, let alone have anyone click on it.

Facebook brought in way more traffic, and some of it did convert, but I feel like my advertising costs were too high there, since you can only specify more general interests. It seems like reddit, had their advertising platform actually worked, would have been the perfect place for me.

Yes, this. Google and Facebook make it super easy to advertise. Whenever I've tried to advertise on Reddit, nothing shows up, I have no idea why, and the advertising UI gives me no clues.

I’m feeling bad for some unknown director at Reddit when their boss reads this thread.

Well, they are kind of failing at their job in a big way, likely costing the company billions of dollars in the process. I don’t feel that bad for them. 5% of other socials in revenue per user is comically bad.

Taking in $400M at this stage is already a pretty sure sign of failure and that they don't know how to run a business. Probably too many MBAs busy optimizing their career ascendancy to be concerned with pesky details like competently securing revenue streams. It's not that hard to show ads to self-selecting niche audiences.

“It’s not that hard to show ads to self-selecting niche audiences.”

Perhaps not. Honest question though: Have you tried, at scale?

Give me half a billion and I'll certainly try

An MVP might come handy (^_^)

I'm sure the masses they traded our demographic for makes up for it in their jaded little bubble.

For years they delegated their advertising platform to a third party. Last I heard they were trying to build one in house, and I am not sure if they succeeded.

Or not. More adverts and it becomes gross. Paying to avoid adverts might be an option, and while this makes it a protection racket, I’d take it over adverts.

Reddit has gross adverts already: Huel, some self-help thing, naff Adobe ads endorsed by some Reddit superuser from a corner of the site I never read. I’d far rather they were relevant to the subs I do read.

If you could pay to remove them, would you?

I’d probably pay for a “premium” service that let me generically block stuff on Reddit - /r/popular is infested with a lot of stuff I’ll never be interested in.

I wouldn’t call it a racket though since it’s entirely voluntarily to use Reddit, or not use it. And there’s also the possibility to set up other competing forums, with or without ads.

They are probably too busy fighting against their own users and subreddits that keep them afloat. Too much ideology in there to make sense, business wise.

Ultimately it’s the board and the CEO that’s responsible for such an important issue. So if they are not already aware of it then I’m not really sure they are in a position to blame someone under them in the org chart.

If you've created something unusable, should you be in charge?

On the other hand, organic material on Reddit generates traffic and has high conversion rates.

Why pay when you can get the same for free?

That is truly bizzare. I’m having trouble understanding the motivations of the board, after a Series E and a clearly useful business, they didn’t bother with making more money?

I wanted to run Reddit ads after to target users of a certain game after a big expansion launch. My site had a bunch of time-sensitive information that 1) was useful to the users of a specific subreddit, 2) would be useful for a week or so after the launch, 3) while it had a successful submission, I wanted to promote that submission for about a week afterwards to more people could see it.

I put up a reddit ad for that submission and Reddit took 4 weeks to approve it. At that point, there was no point running the ad anymore.

Another time I wanted to advertise to a new game that had a brand new subreddit to match but it was huge - 100k plus users in a week. Reddit simply wouldn't permit me to advertise to it because it was new.

In my (limited) experience it feels like Reddit isn't making the money it could be because it doesn't want to.

Strange that they make it difficult to pay them

Reddit should charge for all commercial posts. It would clean up spam and generate revenue.

Make a special class of commercial account, include some 'verification' badge thingy. Let subreddits ban all commercial content, unpaid commercial content, or leave open (for commercial-specific subs).

Let mods profit share in commercial posts. (And fix the moderator system so "first to register controls the sub" is no longer the case)

This is an absolutely bizarre proposal. You want moderators to willingly pollute their subreddit with ads in exchange for personally getting a kickback from reddit? Users would either migrate en masse to competing subreddits with decent mods, or they'd stay due the same old problems with moderator inertia...

I think they mean it would be better than the astroturfing that goes on currently

Agreed and it would make the mod position self-sustaining.

"And fix the moderator system so "first to register controls the sub" is no longer the case"


This is a complex proplem.

"the top 20 most upvoted comments in the subreddit within the last year, with the user having more than X posts per year in the subreddit, Y karma per post and more than 1000 characters per post, are invited to become moderators"

Only really works for the in-depth subreddits, I guess it's not going to get you far on image or other media-based subreddits...

That seems non obvious, the most upvoted comments are just as likely to be memes or jokes than in-depth research, and even if they are that may not correlate to a good mod very much at all.

You can see this in action on ANY subreddit by sorting by "Top of all time". Almost every post is either some in-joke or meme, some random brigade that happened from a sudden temporary influx of users, etc. for at least the first 10 posts.

Wouldn't this just turn reddit into a spam site?

Do you mean it's not already?

Do you think having all the members of the subreddit (or the entire site) vote on who the mod should be? I think there are many ways to make this efficient by statistical sampling, proxy votes, and detecting when statistical errors occur. To restrict people to one account you'd need to verify phone numbers.

I'm currently trying to build this but I'm not a programmer so it's slow going. I'm interested in your thoughts as I'm sure I'm missing something obvious.

There is nothing to stop people or groups of people from making thousands of accounts and joining the sub, and then eventually taking control. Even if these user accounts have to be X years old, or subbed for Y months, none of that matters in the long term.

Yes. With this system it would be important to verify identities on sign up. I think verifying phone number would largely resolve the issue (SMS short codes don't work on VOIP phones). There many other levels to reduce fake accounts that can be added if problems begin to occur.

The main issue is the more difficult sign up is, the less people sign up. It's a balancing act.

With any voting system you have to detect the validity of the votes, even upvotes.

> SMS short codes don't work on VOIP phones

My experience is mostly with Google Voice, but I've not found that to be true. Years ago that was the case, but these days, I've encountered by few that don't work.

I think google voice may be the exception. Of the 6 other voip providers I've tried none could get short code sms.


Make creation of subreddits paid maybe along with phone verification?

Imo, moderation logs should all be public. Lobsters does it well:


Very cool! Thanks for the link!!!

It's even open source!

Yep. Though they don't have a concept of communities/subreddits. They rely on tags instead.

I think it probably needs to not be fully automatic, but users should be able to vote to nominate a moderator for removal or addition, subject to admin discretion. Ideally, any user of the sub should be able to see the 'case' and contribute why they think the mod would/is doing a good/bad job, and people can upvote and downvote reasons. Maybe kind of use AITA's style of comment voting (but with admins finalizing decisions as a check valve against gaming).

Not fully automating, means humans for each reddit big enough. (What is big enough?) That is expensive. So this probably means lots of decisions in short time for those administrators ... means lots of wrong decision and lots of drama.

Voting? Who has the right to vote? Anyone? Any socketpuppet account? Only verified real people? (would be a different reddit)

The base problem is called politics.

I think eligibility should be based on a minimum karma-within-subreddit (comments and submissions) threshold.

And yeah, this would cost Reddit some in admin labor, but they should be able to use some of this revenue stream towards those few hires. I'd imagine a team of 6 would be plenty for this purpose, maybe could get away with 2 or 3.

> I think eligibility should be based on a minimum karma-within-subreddit (comments and submissions) threshold

A million little HNs.

Practical guarantee of brigading.

> And fix the moderator system so "first to register controls the sub" is no longer the case

Why do you consider that a problem? As a heavy user of reddit, I don't consider that a problem at all. I would be interested to hear what problems you think exist with that system and what other solutions exist.

I'd be pretty pissed if I created a subreddit, put effort into growing it, and someone could just come along and steal it.

Will it fix onlyfans spam!!?!?!

They make so much money off of Reddit, and reddit captures none of that value. It doesn't seem right.

Maybe Reddit could raise more funding and buy OnlyFans.

Honestly a great idea. But they are going for the prude & judgmental brand friendlily model.

Sounds like a great way to prod those specialized communities to bail to the next diggredditetc.

People are going to those specialized communities to get real information from real users, not lies and misinformation (ads and marketing).

Eh, I'd say most of the hardcore Reddit users have both old.reddit as well as an Ad Blocker, so I'm guessing that slightly better ad configuration tools wouldn't adversely impact the longtime users too much.

As for other users, they are already seeing incredibly random and irrelevant ads. Seeing actual photography themed ads on a photography themed forum doesn't seem that bad IMO (provided that they are clearly marked as ads, of course.)

Naw. The new Reddit design is much nicer than the old. There, I said it. It is much easier to use. It took them a while to iron out the bugs but it is way better.

Now their new mobile app video player… ho boy…..

Some things I think are objectively bad design -

1. Images open by default on my feed and videos and gifs autoplay as I scroll. It's a massive distraction. I'm trying to find content I might be interested in, but here I'm forced to scan pretty much every post out there.

2. On similar lines, showing a (cropped) summary for text posts. Again a distraction when you're trying to find content. The cropping makes it worse since you have to change the page after reading halfway through.

3. Having to click on view discussion to open the comments each time. This is a forum. The only reason I go there is to discuss.

4. Lack of borders for comments. It looks like one continuous feed and reduces grouping between individual comments.

5. Large avatars, icons on the reply bar compete for attention on every single comment. The reply bar on old reddit is so nicely blended away into the background. You don't see it unless you want to reply.

6. Hover popups on the large icons trigger unintentionally all the time. Very rarely do I need to see somebody's karma. What's the point of this feature even?

This is basis design considerations for a discussion forum. I completely understand where they are coming from though. They are not interested in this being a discussion forum. They want to optimize for post views. The more views a post gets, the more they will be able to monetize. Engaging in discussion is time consuming and that time could be better spent in viewing more posts.

I really dislike the new design, it feels super-bloated like it's trying to be a social app (and indeed they force the awful Reddit app on you too).

I use Reddit Enhancement Suite and the old design and I find it far superior. It feels more compact and efficient, like HN.

> Naw. The new Reddit design is much nicer than the old. There, I said it. It is much easier to use. It took them a while to iron out the bugs but it is way better.

I'm curious what you like better in the new design? I personally find the floating bar at the top annoying. Not to mention the fact you have to click another button to actually see all the comments. Not to mention my biggest annoyance, clicking on the empty space on the sides when viewing a post will navigate to the subreddit?? Why?

> Not to mention my biggest annoyance, clicking on the empty space on the sides when viewing a post will navigate to the subreddit?? Why?

A/B testing shows it generates more engagement


>People are going to those specialized communities to get real information from real users, not lies and misinformation (ads and marketing).

Those specialized communities will cease to exist without something funding them.

Either users get ready to get out their wallets or get used to ads and marketing (which are not wholly lies and misinformation). And more importantly remember it's Reddit's choice how users pay, not the end users.

I'm not sure that's true. No one is paying the moderators currently. It's not like hosting costs of a forum are that high. Not that difficult to migrate all your users to a competing service if the community is un happy with the monetization scheme.

Migrating might not be that hard. Retaining existing users and attracting new users is much harder.

For niche topics I tend to add "reddit" to google search queries, because there's a high likelihood of finding actual information. If those subreddits move to other services, they may not even show up in the sea of blogspam results.

> Those specialized communities will cease to exist without something funding them.

And this very article embarassingly shows that after 16 years it is still investors who are funding those specialized communities.

How much money does it really cost to provide a discussion forum for a specialized community? Not so much as to warrant advertising pollution.

Advertising is diametrically opposed to information sharing.

Not necessarily how much it costs but more how much the provider wants to make. And w/ VCs involved in Reddit they're not looking for pennies.

If you will suffer a brief crash course on ad terminology, you are describing "placements". A placement with an ad in it shown to a user is called an "impression".

I agree that advertisers would pay reddit more for better ad space (also called "inventory") but that doesn't just happen automatically.

Right now, I would assume they are integrating with some third party ad network and probably use fairly generic targeting information. The cost in time and money to either deepen that integration or rip it out and make a custom ad network is probably significant.

Well they have the money part of that equation solved, at least for a while. How quickly can one blow through $410 million? 18 months?

Unfortunately I think the core audience of Reddit is probably somewhat well informed and probably running an ad block. I’d love to see the percentages.

It makes total sense to be able to target communities and I think they need to just stick a banner on the right hand side and be done with it. Let moderators maybe even take a small cut in exchange for providing info and meta data on their community.

I just checked /r/linux, which I browse on occasion, and the three sponsored posts I saw on the front page were for Intel vPro, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Google Chromebooks. Those all seem at least reasonably relevant.

Really? I'd say they are closer to unreasonably irrelevant. Maybe I could stretch myself to see a Chomebook being interesting and relevant. To me seeing the other two would make me look negatively on the brands/products. If those who sees an add get nothing out of it except wasted time I'd say they are spam. Those sound like 100% spam to me in /r/linux.

Agreed, Adobe creative cloud doesn’t even run on Linux!

Not sure why vPro would be irrelevant, vPro can work with Linux AFAICT and there's some overlap between /r/linux and /r/sysadmin [1].

[1] https://subredditstats.com/subreddit-user-overlaps/linux

Adobe and Chromebook ads are all over Reddit. I don't read any tech or design subreddits yet I get them all the time. I doubt what you're seeing is targetted at all.

Yeah, it's weird as if I'm browsing /r/buildapc I wouldn't even mind seeing relevant ads - same for stuff like /r/books etc.

It does seem like a huge missed opportunity.

I think the problem is that reddit culture is virulently anti-consumerist and throw a fit every time they see an ad. I'll bet they get terrible conversion rates.

Thing is, I see a reasonable number of ads on Reddit, they're just rarely relevant to the subreddit I'm on. I think they could keep the same number of ads and target them better, and the results would improve.

There's a lot of redditors who sense a corporate conspiracy anytime a brand name is mentioned, but there's tons of subreddits entirely about consumption. Media, food, hobbies. I was active on r/homebrewing for years and people talk about products they want to buy all the time.

The trouble with those types is they all have very strong opinions and think most products are crap. They're not opposed to buying things, just shitty things.

There are also active subreddits for specific brands like /r/djimavic and /r/SonyAlpha

This is true. I can easily burn through all my daily ad spend on Reddit at rates of between $0.50 and $1.00 CPMs. And the click through rates are awful.

On Facebook or Google, you've often got to spend at least $5-$10 per mille to be competitive in most verticals. $25 to $50 in some verticals like insurance. And it converts.

The reddit userbase just isn't as monetizable.

> One thing that they do not seem to be taking advantage of is how specialized many of their communities are.

Their default subs are utter crap and full of influence campaigns accounts; in addition to being nearly impossible to post to without punished in some way.

True - I more frequently search for '<my question> + Reddit' on Google

bundle that with a profile that easily identifies cross markets by other interests too. you get to double dip. millions of targetable demographic profiles all self sorted and prepackaged for whomever.

You asked if there was "something intrinsic to Reddit traffic that makes it difficult to monetize?" and the answer is: Yes, they're far less invasive than the other platforms you mentioned.

Just at a very high level:

- no offsite tracking (so no retargeting - the follow you around the internet ads)

- no separate ad network (you can't buy ads on Reddit that show up on 3rd party sites)

- limits on how granular targeting can be (it's by sub-reddit but they exclude many based on size+sensitivity)

- no demographic targeting (you can't pitch your product to males 18-35)

- no fine grained geographic targeting (lowest they go is major metro areas of millions of people)

Reddit has had off site tracking for quite some time.

Remember those little snooheads where you could 'reblog' about something? or vote on a site while on it?

Seeing the reddit bugs/icons/badges was about when the site started engaging in data collection. You bet your ass they do everything they can to determine a general profile of each user now based on visited subs and patterns.

They cannot manage a little chat widget on their website, you think they'll be able to trackbusers? You're right that they are trying but they are definitely not capable.

And now they're taking huge amounts of money, which means they need to succeed as an advertising company, which means they'll start doing many of those things.

This seems likely to change.

Reddit userbase is way more hostile to ads on average, more block ads, a lot of the content is non-advertiser friendly, they have less information on their audience for targeting, etc.

Reddit is more forum than social network, they'll need to get creative to make more revenue from users. Winning strategy for them might be to try and get more older users who don't care about ads so much and have lots of money

Also reddit itself gives a huge number of ways for advertisers to access the reddit audience without paying for it.

I think this is reddit's biggest issue. Astroturfing is more effective than advertising and it's cheaper too.

Astroturfing as in hopping into a group and creating a post promoting your product? Have you ever seen that actually work?

Almost every subreddit I see bans any kind of promotion and even posting of links.

The number of pictures that are actually just ads upvoted to the front page was absolutely astonishing when I used reddit. I didn't understand how people could see a Coke can with a funny name on it and not realize that was an advertisement.

>Winning strategy for them might be to try and get more older users who don't care about ads so much and have lots of money

Isn't the most sought-after demographic 18-35 because they have the most disposable income? Afterwards disposable income drops off because of kids and/or retirement.

That demographic is most sought-after by advertisers because it is the easiest to influence. The ads work better on them.

For whatever reason, maybe just because they've seen more ads, older demographics are harder to reach.

> For whatever reason, maybe just because they've seen more ads, older demographics are harder to reach.

Fascinating - in my experience older generations are much, much easier to beguile online.

My guess would be the Reddit demographic is much less receptive to ads than the average, say, FB user.

Is it actually true that online ads work better (more conversions?) on that demographic? How do you separate the confounding factor of the effect of age and income on preferences?

This is absolutely not true. Setting aside product market fit, older demos are better, ideally conservative.

Product-Market fit is of course important. No point in marketing Red Bull to older demographics; the product was not designed for them. Aside from products targeted at one demographic or the other, older audiences are more skeptical, and have seen all of the ad gambits in earlier forms before.

Imagine the person saying "don't believe everything you read in the news" Is that an older person talking to a younger one, or vice-versa?

Not by a long shot. Boomers are still the highest in spending[1]. I was a broke college student forever and somewhat broke for the years or so after (no loans I worked through college). I’m in the 30-40 range with kids and I spend much more than my twenties.

Lots of college students are spending their parents money for these kinds of things.

[1] https://resources.datadrivenmarketing.equifax.com/dyks-equif...

While older consumers do have more money to spend, most advertisers prefer to target younger consumers. The thinking is that boomers already have established brand preferences and spending patterns so it's much harder to convert them into new customers.

This is only really true for television advertising, since most of it is brand building, instead of "click here and buy now" online.

> Winning strategy for them might be to try and get more older users who don't care about ads so much and have lots of money

Won't be easy getting older users on a site where "boomer" is a slur.

> Reddit is more forum than social network

Reddit is mostly cat pictures and funny memes at scale, even calling it a "forum" is a stretch. More like a glorified image board.

Two specific feeds, /r/popular and /r/all, are a lot of this.

There are a lot of good niche communities that have deep, meaningful conversation on Reddit.

He is clearly unaware of /r/cannedsardines

I've started to add +Reddit in Google searches to obtain useful information when I need to know something. With all those fake top 10 list sites and paid reviews showing up in searches, Reddit is pretty much the only place left for getting reliable product information, for example. There are friendly and knowledgeable subreddits about all kinds of topics.

Yeah. Doing a Google search for best anything returns pages of content farms and Pinterest links. Remember when Google search used to be good?

I'm not sure I understand your taxonomy. In my mind, an image board is a type of forum (generally anonymous and ephemeral). Reddit is more like a forum than a typical forum than popular imageboards, since users have long-lived identities and posts are permanent by default.

As far as "most cat pictures and memes", maybe it is, by volume. But that doesn't diminish the substantial corpus of more substantive, forum-like, discussion hosted on the site.

>Or is there something intrinsic to Reddit traffic that makes it difficult to monetize?

Reddit is also home to an enormous amount of porn and nsfw content in general which probably hurts this. They only just started preventing sexually explicit subreddits/content from appearing on r/all six months ago[0]


It’s not going to be Tumblr all over again if they choose to ban it. But I wonder how many people use Reddit just for nsfw.

I wonder if their problem is that the majority of their traffic is unregistered users looking at NSFW subreddits. So they may not actually have that many users they could monetize in the first place.

Simple fix: allow users to save video only if logged in (could prime with a CTA). Right now you cant save any video from reddit, not just nsfw, not even from the app. This would incentivize people to create an account since its easier and less shady than content grabbing sites. If they want they can even limit to the app which would at least have an impact on boosting app users

Reply to a video with a comment mentioning u/savevideo and you'll get a response in a few minutes with a link. I think Reddit Enhancement Suite might also have an option for adding a download link.

As for an official paid feature: as soon as they start collecting money for video related features, the video creators will start circling for their cut of the revenue.

> Reply to a video with a comment mentioning u/savevideo and you'll get a response in a few minutes with a link.

Not anymore, they've banned it.

No they haven't. It voluntarily and temporarily shut down. Someone was pretending to represent Reddit threatened to sue u/savevideo, but Reddit admins stepped in and confirmed it wasn't them and that they don't have anything against u/savevideo

Great, make not-logged-in reddit even more terrible than it already is. That's going to go super well.

I thought they made NSFW require login a couple years ago

That’s mobile only I think but you’re right.

Why does it matter to advertisers if the user is registered or not?

NSFW content can work perfectly fine to get users on the platform, even if it can't be monetized.

The NSFW part of reddit is becoming like backpage. people arent just selling videos and pics, but encounters too.

That was when I left Reddit. I felt like censoring from r/all is not what I want from r/all. To me that means every subreddit except quarantined subreddits. Once they started down that road I took off and haven’t been back.

This is like refusing to visit a town because they don't allow the local strip club to advertise on the billboards there.

I mean, the town hasn't banned the strip club, and you can still visit it any time you want.

Why do you care what's on r/all?

to me, this seems like an opportunity for new advertisers that don't care about "their brand showing up next to porn"

is there a market rational reason why this hasn't occurred, or are the primary places that happen to also have adult content just assuming advertisers won't use their platform

sure, big fortune 500 ad spends are lucrative, but so is the aggregate of every single half baked idea that has to test the waters with targeted ads

It made headlines not long ago when Just-Eat I believe was advertising on porn sites, so it's not an impossible ask... but marketers will want to play those campaigns very carefully. It wouldn't take much to accidentally end up next to revenge porn that makes the news or something.

> but marketers will want to play those campaigns very carefully. It wouldn't take much to accidentally end up next to revenge porn that makes the news or something.

Can you elaborate further? why is this the marketer's problem?

why isn't the ad campaigner completely agnostic on where the ad network sends it?

to me, it seems like widespread conjecture. out of the things I've seen people talk about boycotting a brand for, showing up in a banner on a porn site hasn't been one of them. People know how targeting works, their session and the ad networks.

is there a case study supporting marketer's skittishness?

Not the original commenter but it's because the marketer doesn't want to be associated with the content. It may devalue the product, be the wrong target audience, cause some social media backlash, etc. (e.g. Disney wouldn't want to advertise Disney+ on a revenge porn page since it would ruin their family-friendly image).

> People know how targeting works, their session and the ad networks.

People in your network maybe. If that were widely true you wouldn't see people swearing that FB is listening to you for showing a mattress ad after you spent an hour searching for it on your computer. The average American has no idea what the hell is going on.

The only situations I'm aware of of general brand contamination are the @stopfundinghate ones, and that's very different - pointing out to brands when their stuff is appearing next to far right content.

Reddit is increasingly forcing mobile users into the app, or to at least make an account. Presumably to improve monetization.

Frustratingly they do this while continuing to not invest into their app - they might have an easier time attracting users if their app didn't break half of their site functions.

It's easier to track in the app because of the mobile advertising identifier.

That doesn't seem to be the case any more, as nearly everybody opts out of that on iOS.

There are still some people who use the reddit application and have Android phones.

Which is where they need an email for authenticated consent for use with cookieless solutions.

And tracking/notifications. Which is of course why I don’t install it.

Tracking and driving engagement via notifications are some of the most important reasons why app users can be monetized better than anonymous web users (user sees more ads if they're spending more time, and tracking allows better targeted and thus higher paying ads)

There's another big factor with mobile app users: it's much harder to block ads in a mobile app.

Don't most users already use mobile browsers (e.g. chrome) which don't support extensions and thus ad blockers?

Firefox on iOS supports strict ad blocking. It’s not as good as some of the purpose-built extensions on desktop, but it mostly does the job.

I feel like extraordinary monetization of reddit would ruin reddit, and the reason why people actually like reddit.

It's already happening with the profile pages being implemented.

I liked it around 2008 because it did not have profile pages and a fairly simple, straightforward interface and did not attempt to couple one's real life identity to one's post and encouraged throwaway accounts by allowing users to sign up without providing an email address.

Much of that is changing, and I also find that websites that encourage a link with one's real life identity tend to have an ever more annoying culture.

It also feels like more excessive Americana as time goes on. It did not seem like idiosyncractic U.S.A. social issues were as common in 2008, as well as the typical user that assumes every other user is from the U.S.A..

Reddit is one of the sites I use the most. I hope they can figure out a financially sustainable model without becoming obnoxious or, eventually, being bought up by a private equity firm.

This already happened, Condé Nast bought and then spun off reddit when they failed to monetize it. Reddit has to thread a needle to monetize and not kill its user base. I wager it’s impossible.

If they do ruin Reddit with monetization, I hope it also ruins a few people's investment portfolios along the way.

I don't think Reddit will ever scale as well as something like Facebook . The bigger Reddit gets, the less usable it becomes due to subs becoming too crowded.

The whole point of reddit is that the crowding issue is self-correcting -- you just move to a new sub. I like to envision it as a malthusian catastrophe -- as the population starts reaching capacity limits, people start grumbling more and more.. until suddenly they far overshoot the capacity, and leave en-masse to new subs. In one fell swoop, the original sub is left near-empty, and out of the many new subs created in that instant, a few survive with healthy populations.

I have been on reddit a long time and I have never seen a popular sub ever die unless it gets banned by admins. Splinter subs emerge but the original one remains popular too

SRS, breadtube

The long-tail subs will never get too crowded. If you have found a niche where like-minded people hang out, there will never be a whole lot more of them, and however many more there are, it's a positive.

I'm thinking vintageaudio, lv426, subs like that.

I suspect (without proof) that Reddit's unique user count is far smaller than its actual user count. People proudly use multiple alts and such behaviour is tacitly encouraged by the platform. It's not at all unusual for a user to have alts for gaming, porn and other things. Obvious this phenomenon exists on other platforms but my gut tells me it's far more prevalent on Reddit.

Reddit currently supports many third party freemium clients ( Ala Twitter 2012). These third party apps offer a no ad experience too. Unsure how much revenue reddit shares with these apps though.

It helps with growth(more options for users to be on reddit) , but definitely hurts ad inventory, ad targeting insights etc.

They will eventually shut these down to increase ad views, just like twitter

I think this is likely why Reddit has heavily pushed direct revenue with an expansion of awards available (cheapest ones are 50 coins now), in addition to the continued ad-free option with a premium subscription.

I love Apollo on iOS. Without that I’d primarily just browse Reddit on desktop web. The official mobile app and mobile web is actually a disaster.

Thats less than 0.5% of traffic tho, most of it is from the official apps nowerdays.

>Either way, Reddit should be throwing an insane amount of money and equity to get a Sheryl Sandberg like executive with a track record of juicing monetization.

You mean that they should spend as much money as they can on ruining Reddit.

And of course the site will just get worse and worse, but continue onward, because its value is in the audience, and it takes a lot to screw up that momentum.

(What a blessing that HN isn't run to make a profit.)

> This is a 50% or more discount to the market-cap/unique visitor ratio of Twitter, Snap, and Facebook.[1] And all the stats I've seen indicate much higher user engagement and time on site for Reddit compared to the other social platforms.

Most people have one Snap / FB account and one, maximum two Twitter accounts... but throwaways are the norm on Reddit (as well as HN), which means Reddit's user count is inflated by quite a bit. Additionally, Reddit has large nsfw communities that draw lots of members and visitors (again, most with separate accounts!), and these can't be reasonably monetized at all.

> higher user engagement

It's the dark patterns and having to reload pages multiple times to finally see the content.

> and time on site

Again, break your site so addicts have to try harder to get their dopamine hit

The reddit "engagement" numbers are false.

If I'm wrong GP can correct me, but I think "engagement" means commenting/posting/voting, just viewing a page doesn't count as engagement.

View page: Something went wrong, refresh, refresh, scrolls, clicks load more, scroll, upvote.

Results: longer time and the user will now actually engage, because they had to "work" to get there.

Complete dark-pattern to "juke the stats". And it's too complicated for their stupid investors to understand why the numbers are bullshit.

Do you have any data to suggest that a more frustrating viewing experience boosts engagement? Intuitively it should do the opposite.

It's "slot machine" psychology, sometimes it doesn't work so you have to pull it again. Being unpredictable makes the dopamine rush stronger when it works and gives you what you want. search for "slot machine social media" and you'll find a good deal of coverage.

This usually applies to what posts are in an algorithmic feed, but I guess not having the feed show up at all is a fresh innovation. Twitter and Reddit both do a lot of just giving up and saying "woops, couldn't load that link you just clicked" as if that was a real problem. Really? what, the database wasn't there when you looked? Try again yourself, why make me click refresh?

Another anecdata - search on facebook doesn't work for finding stuff in someone's timeline, so I've spent many minutes scrolling down someone's page trying to find a post. It's frustrating but I don't quit, and I'm sure metrics and impressions look great (no click through tho)

The thing is, which works against intuition, is that when an addict works a little more for the hit, they "deserve" it more.

Most of the data I have is about heroin and cocaine. And folks are very reluctant to like physically addictive things to these technologic addiction things.

But human nature is very consistent regarding these dopamine releases. We're all fienders.

Your comments make perfect sense in light of the fact that Reddit is the world's largest free porn site, with just enough "social" sprinkled on top to keep you engaged between wanks.

The only information I could find claims that about 22% of reddit is NSFW. They calculated the percentage of NSFW subreddits with >100k subscribers. [1]

That's far from a perfect way to measure this, but it's around the statistic that 30% of the internet is porn. My intuition tells me Reddit probably reflects the internet as a whole pretty well.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/f94j0y/oc_...

Doesn't matter the percentage of subreddits (i.e. counting every qualifying subreddit equally), what is the percentage of eyeballs? And don't you think lots of people view porn subreddits without subscribing?

Well, just for the record, that doesn't invalidate what I said. I'm not concerned with what PERCENTAGE is porn. It still is the largest, most-easily-accessible, most searchable, free porn site. And also for the record, yes, I HATE that Reddit (and Twitter, et. al.) allow full-on NSFW content along with all the rest.

If you use digg as reference the long term outlook of reddit is not that bright.

digg died fifteen years ago. clearly a lot has changed, and the mistakes that killed digg have not been made.

and i think reddit is beyond the point at which a digg-style fuckup could kill them. at worst you might see cadres of ideological users depart for something like lemmy, which is already happening to an extent, but there is a lot of space to flee internally, so most users don't feel the pressure. and diffusion to federated media is in the future for every mass audience. reddit has such a huge and active userbase it will dominate for the foreseeable future.

The new HTML layout and the obnoxious mobile website are worse than what killed Digg, IMO.

The difference is that when Digg made their mistakes, Reddit was there for the taking.

Nowadays, there's no alternative to Reddit. All the new sites appear to be focused on hateful communities banned from Reddit, and that will never attract the mainstream.

whats lemmy? Googling around all I found was articles about the motorhead singer and some weird dead forum from the 2000s about lemmy koopa

Digg closed before it was defeated really. I can't remember if it was the v3 or v4 that caused the migration but they didn't even try to roll back... or just stick with their new plan. They just gave up it seems.

Is the latest iteration of Digg a totally different entity or something? I have coworkers who use digg a ton - doesn’t seem dead to me.

Perhaps traffic has a reciprocal relationship with monetization and until Reddits management are ready to bite the bullet there is a tendency to focus on vanity metrics such as traffic rather than $.

One of the main reasons their monetization is so bad is that their mobile app is terrible.

Mobile Apps are important for monetization because they are much less vulnerable to ad blockers, people are used to ads taking up more of the screen in scrollable content and in most cases carry more traffic than desktop versions.

I think the disastrous experience buying and targeting ads is bad too, but the lack of a decent mobile app is a huge factor.

There is a LOT standing in the way of monetization for Reddit:

- younger user base (so less disposable income)

- loose concept of user identity, so can't tailor ads

- more corpoarate and mainstream advertisers tend to stay away due to the nature of the community and content shared

- primary usage is on web rather than mobile apps

All of these are fixable, but the question is can they do so without alienating their use base.

Can't tailor ads? Loose concept of user identity? I would think having a list of every subreddit a user subscribes to would give you a good indication of what interests they have! But from reading this thread it sounds like Reddit makes it difficult to choose which subreddits you want to advertise to.

Don't forget the invasive data mining they get from the app and location tracking.

I agree with most of what you say, but I thought most of the usage was now on the mobile app?

By most, I mean the vast majority (hence my perplexion and need to comment and confirm my understanding)

As a reddit user, this sounds exactly like you're trying to drive me away from the site.

> And all the stats I've seen indicate much higher user engagement and time on site for Reddit compared to the other social platforms.

>The biggest issue is of course that their monetization is horrible.

It's possible that these two things are pretty tightly linked.

> On a visitor perspective, this seems undervalued.

Cause they’re always one drama away from losing tons of people. The platform seems to attract drama involving the platform and decisions made more than say Twitter does

Those publicly traded social media sites are valued at that rate by the public. It’s possible that VC’s are:

1) Valuing the company in the hopes of making a profit on the IPO 2) More conservative than public markets

> should be throwing an insane amount of money and equity to get a Sheryl Sandberg like executive

This is correct but also bittersweet.

And then you would see a mass exodus of users..

I'd argue that the majority of the users that made the site worth using have already left.

As someone who left the site a year/year and a half ago. I agree ;)

User Engagement is inversely correlated to monetization.

Can you please provide more evidence to support this claim? From where I'm sitting, TikTok's and Instagram's businesses would disagree strongly.

I would say, given a static audience of 1 million people, that user engagement goes down the more you advertise (if 1/4 of my feed is ads, that's 25% less actual content to interact with).

TikTok and Instagram have been able to grow larger and larger audiences despite the pressure of ads (and honestly I know when I tried TikTok last there weren't any ads yet, I wonder what portion of an hour is taken up by ads and how long is it til it reaches television levels of ~25%) - as long as audience growth outpaces users losing interest, you can keep introducing ads, but you can't do it forever.

That wasn't a scientific statement. Just a theory about Reddit. I personally like Reddit because it's not shoving ad's in your face constantly and I think others do as well. Apologies for presenting it without labelling it as a theory. I would edit it now if I could.

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