In a perfect world, companies advertise to alert an audience about a product, service or event that could add value to the lives of the audience. The audience is grateful for the communication and the advertising company is rewarded with increased revenue. In the real world, advertising is often an annoying buzz of unnecessary noise adding to the overall hectic nature of our lives. The Internet is no exception. Pop ups, distracting videos and other less-than-stellar practices run rampant all over the World Wide Web. (And this is after regulation, industry standards and Google algorithms designed to keep us on worthwhile sites actually dedicated to content and not just advertising.) Reddit, on the other hand, has passed on massive advertising potential in an attempt at achieving the perfect advertising balance. Yes, advertising is allowed on Reddit. But, due to a perfect storm of factors, advertising has evolved into a different custom on this site. Entire theories are based around advertising on Reddit, (as can be read here and here and here). Normal advertising simply does not work there. Advertisers, like any other users of the site, must follow Reddiquette to see success. By Reddiquette (no I did not coin the term), I mean they must respect their audience and work to engage with them personally. The advertisements must add to the conversation, not distract from them, and they must provide an obvious value. Why the cultural shift? What is the magical concoction of factors coming together? At Reddit, even ads can be down voted and every ad comes with a handy-dandy comment button. Poor or overly aggressive ads quickly create negative reactions on Reddit, and the advertising audience has a platform in which to air their discontent. So what kind of ads work on Reddit? The above screenshot was published by Reddit on their advertising purchasing site. As you can see, they are thought provoking and based around the Reddit audience. As mentioned in previous blog posts, users strongly identify with the Reddit brand and advertising geared toward Redditors sees higher levels of success. Products Reddit is not primarily a market place, though they do have a merchandise store linked to the site for the truly dedicated Redditor. The merchandise available primarily features Reddit’s loveable mascot, Snoo. This is not to say that Reddit is not involved with making money off of Internet commerce. The site has just taken a different approach to it all (at this point, are you even surprised?). Reddit makes money as a marketing affiliate through their gift exchanges. Here’s how it works: Anonymous Redditors sign up for secret-gift exchanges hosted by Reddit. (Yes, perfect strangers buy gifts for one another and mail them around the world for no other reason than it is fun.) Reddit matches up people for the exchange, and then provides special links to large e-commerce sites like Amazon. If people purchase items from those links, Reddit gets a cut. There are usually dozens of gift exchanges happening at once, and this has proven to be somewhat profitable for the company. At least it has proven profitable enough for the CEO of Reddit to name it as one of the site’s three primary sources of revenue. That is affiliate marketing at its finest folks. Communications If you want to learn more about Reddit’s communication style, read last week’s blog post here. Credible News Source As mentioned earlier in this post, there are entire philosophies dedicated to advertising on Reddit. One of links from above, written by Fitz Maro and published on Blog 360i in May of last year, outlines the five most important tips for advertising on Reddit. While I agree with all of them as they pertain to the site, I also think the article is a nod to the roots of advertising as a whole. The five basic steps are to be honest, know your audience, be personable, engage in conversation and reward feedback. If you really think about it, does any of that need to be said? Apparently yes. The Internet has brought advertising back from the mass audience of broadcasting to once again creating a personal conversation. Think of it as going from the Walmart back to the corner store owned by Mom and Pop. For some this may be novel, but all things considered, it really is what people want. This is clearly demonstrated in the content voting and comment sections of Reddit ads. Advertisers once again have the capability of personally reaching their audience, and those who do it with thoughtful respect are being rewarded. On Reddit anyways.