Recently we came across an article published by Advertising Age that we found extremely interesting because it mentioned an avenue of advertising that is starting to gain momentum– sponsoring user posts.
If you’re familiar with Reddit, then you may have already seen this happening, since the Forum-Style platform introduced this new advertising option earlier this month. Starting August 4th, marketers will be able to piggy-back the unique voice of users for more wide-spread marketing by sponsoring user-generated posts. This new avenue of advertising could do well for businesses. A responsive solution to consumer desire for more amiable companies, this style of ad could lead to a more personal connection between customer and business -which data indicates to be an increasing consumer need as the largest share of purchasing power in the U.S. shifts to Millennials. Reports are showing that personable and honest brands that tell a story and offer an “experience” to these young consumers (before pushing a product or service) are doing better than their traditional advertising counterparts.
Traditionally the platform Reddit promotes a “Show Me Your A-Game or Go Home” attitude, and can be accurately described as a hostile environment towards the insincere (i.e. business, agencies, companies). It’s safe to say their aggression towards companies is exacerbated by targeted advertising, which can make users feel like they’re being taken advantage of. So using Reddit’s new “Promoted User Post” advertising option is a high-value risk for business; a larger company could be viewed by users to have more honest intentions than before (leading to solid ROI), or they could experience massive resistance from Reddit users and be pressured to cut their losses.
With internet users already so apathetic towards advertising efforts in general, the reaction of users on Reddit so far has been leaning towards the negative (as expected). Targeting your brand’s audience via user posts seems sneaky, like wearing a disguise to sneak past security. The annoyance of ads is still overwhelming users, because now these “sponsored user posts” are ads that appear across multiple subreddits (categories/topics that enable niche communities), so you’re more likely to come across them more than once. The underlying thought of complaints so far expresses that this method could end up isolating users, i.e. consumers, even more than traditional advertising, because user posts are now being twisted to cater and benefit business, instead of remaining a site for brutally honest statements of opinion.
However, others are seeing positive aspects from post sponsorship. With user opinion now given more value, not all Redditors are claiming to feel swindled by the ads they encounter. Brands that took a chance on Reddit’s new Ad option could start to see success in conversion as users accept this method as low-key and less intrusive, and interpret it as companies being more genuine about supporting customer satisfaction. This advertising stye could help create more trust between consumer and business, beginning with an amiable relationship that develops through more personable marketing efforts.
So with the pros and cons so far voiced, if your post is chosen, we’re curious about your verdict. Will you feel special and validated, or will you see it as an encroachment on personal boundaries and like you’re contributing to the system?
No matter how you see it, such active community involvement across a plethora of topics creates a very unique opportunity for advertisers, which will inevitably spread to other media platforms if found to be successful. Either Reddit’s new option will be a success for expanding marketing technique, or the lash out from users will send advertisers back to the drawing board. Only time will tell us if “User Sponsored Posts” can bring home the bacon.