Last year, Reddit reported 330 million monthly active users (MAU) on its platform. This year, Reddit’s 2019 trend roundup reveals that number has grown by 30% – adding an additional 100 million monthly users since 2018.

Why we should care

This significant growth means Reddit now claims more monthly users than Twitter (321 million) and Pinterest (250 million). After undergoing a massive site redesign last year, Reddit has reported an increase in page views and time spent on its website and app, along with user engagement growth.

With the redesign complete, Reddit is focused on building out more comprehensive ad offerings – something it has been steadily accomplishing over the past year. This, coupled with a significant spike in users this year, is prime pickings for advertisers looking to target niche audiences through a platform that continues to grow in engagement.

More on the news

While user growth stands out as the most impressive takeaway, Reddit also offered a snapshot of the platform’s yearly growth in other areas:

  • Reddit reports 1.7 billion thread comments were created this year – an increase of 37% from last year.
  • Monthly view counts have also grown, resulting in a 53% increase from 2018.
  • Redditors have created a total of 199 million posts this year, according to the company.

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Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.


A team of researchers from UC Santa Barbara and Intel took thousands of conversations from the scummiest communities on Reddit and Gab and used them to develop and train AI to combat hate speech. Finally, r/The_Donald and other online cesspools are doing something useful.

The system was developed after the researchers created a novel dataset featuring thousands of conversations specially curated to ensure they’d be chock full of hate speech. While numerous studies have approached the hate speech problem on both Twitter and Facebook, Reddit and Gab are understudied and have fewer available, quality datasets.

According to the team’s research paper, it wasn’t hard to find enough posts to get started. They just grabbed all of Gab’s posts from last October and the Reddit posts were taken from the usual suspects:

To retrieve high-quality conversational data that would likely include hate speech, we referenced the list of the whiniest most low-key toxic subreddits… r/DankMemes, r/Imgoingtohellforthis, r/KotakuInAction, r/MensRights, r/MetaCanada, r/MGTOW, r/PussyPass, r/PussyPassDenied, r/The_Donald, and r/TumblrInAction.

A tip of the hat to Vox’s Justin Caffier for compiling the list of Reddit‘s “whiniest, most low-key toxic” subreddits. These are the kind of groups that pretend they’re focused on something other than spreading hate, but in reality they’re havens for such activity.

You’ll find hate speech in nearly every conversation on r/The_Donald

After collecting more than 22,000 comments from Reddit and over 33,000 from Gab the researchers learned that, though the bigots on both are equally reprehensible, they go about their bigotry in different ways:

The Gab dataset and the Reddit dataset have similar popular hate keywords, but the distributions are very different. All the statistics shown above indicate that the characteristics of the data collected from these two sources are very different, thus the challenges of doing detection or generative intervention tasks on the dataset from these sources will also be different.

These differences are what makes it hard for social media sites to intervene in real-time — there simply aren’t enough humans to keep up with the flow of hate speech. The researchers decided to try a different route: automating intervention. They took their giant folder full of hate-speech and sent it to a legion of Amazon Turk workers to label. Once the individual instances of hate speech were identified, they asked the workers to come up with phrases that an AI could use to deter users from posting similar hate speech in the future. The researchers then ran this dataset and its database of interventions through various machine learning and natural language processing systems and created a sort of prototype for an online hate speech intervention AI.

It turns out, the results are astounding! But they’re not ready for prime time yet. The system, in theory, should detect hate speech and immediately send a message to the poster letting them know why they shouldn’t post things that are obviously hate speech. This relies on more than just keyword detection – in order for the AI to work it has to get the context right.

If, for example, you referred to someone by an epithet indicative of hate speech, the AI should respond with something like “It’s not okay to refer to women by terms meant to demean and belittle based solely on gender” or “I understand your frustration, but using hateful language towards an individual based on their race is unacceptable.”

Instead, however, it tends to get thrown off pretty easy. Apparently it responds to just about everything anyone on Gab says by reminding them that the word “retarded,” which it refers to as the “R-word,” is unacceptable – even in conversations where nobody’s used it.

The researchers chalk this up to the unique distribution of Gab’s hate-speech — the majority of Gab’s hate-speech involved disparaging the disabled. The system doesn’t have the same problem with Reddit, but it still spits out useless interventions such as “I don’t use racial slurs” and “If you don’t agree with you there’s no reason to resort to name-calling” (that’s not a typo).

Unfortunately, like most early AI projects, it’s going to take a much, much larger training dataset and a lot of development before this solution is good enough to actually intervene. But there’s definitely hope that properly concocted responses designed by intervention experts could curtail some online hate speech. Especially if coupled with a machine learning system capable of detecting hate-speech and its context with high levels of accuracy.

Luckily for the research, there’s no shortage of cowards spewing hate-speech online. Keep talking, bigots — we need more data.

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Reddit announced three new video ad updates on Wednesday, launching a new mobile landing page experience, adding two more aspect ratios for ad sizes and offering optional referral URLs for CPV (cost per view) campaigns.

Mobile landing pages for video ads. The new mobile landing pages for video ads are designed to provide a “seamless viewing experience” — when a user clicks on an in-feed video ad on Reddit’s mobile platform, they will be redirected to a website where the ad continues to play uninterrupted alongside other branding and product information from the advertiser.

This is what it will look like:

are now enabled for all mobile video ads, regardless of their objective. Reddit said it expects the update to improve engagement, completion rates and conversion rates.

New video ad sizes. In addition to the 16:9 and 4:3 aspect rations for video ads, Reddit is now supporting 1:1 square and 4:5 vertical video sizes.

overhauled site last year, Reddit, reports an increase in page views and time spent on its website and app, along with user engagement growth. With the redesign complete, Reddit now has a platform on which it can build out more comprehensive ad offerings, something it has been steadily accomplishing over the past year.

In addition to giving brands more video ad options this time, Reddit also reported it is forming its first video engineering team to test and improve its video ad products.

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the site underwent a major overhaul last year, rebuilding the platform from the ground up.

“The desktop website has not meaningfully changed in many years; it is not particularly welcoming to new users (or old for that matter); and still runs code from the earliest days of Reddit over 10 years ago,” said Huffman at the end of 2017 when Reddit announced its redesign plans.  

It was this wild west environment that kept marketers at bay, not wanting to risk brand safety by putting ads on a platform with a less-than-welcoming reputation. But with the site’s overhaul, Reddit has rebuilt its platform to be more welcoming to users and, during the past year, rolled out several new advertising options for brands.

As part of our ongoing series focusing on the next era of social media marketing, we wanted to dig into Reddit’s ad opportunities since its redesign. Are brand safety concerns still an issue? Did Reddit’s “facelift” impact ad results? As the sixth most visited website in the U.S. (according to Alexa), is it time brands give more attention to Reddit? We turned to advertisers on the platform, along with the company’s VP of brand partnerships, to find answers.

Reddit’s steps to address brand safety concerns

“We’ve done a lot of heavy lifting to build a more sophisticated
platform for both users and advertisers, and have been more proactive about having
brand safety conversations with our partners,” said Zubair
Jandali, Reddit’s Vice President of Brand Partnerships, “We have dedicated ads
policy specialist with expertise in the space who has upped the cadence of our
ad policy reviews and made refinements based on our assessment of the current

In June, Reddit announced a collaboration with Oracle Data Cloud, integrating Oracle’s Contextual Intelligence technology to provide advertisers brand safety controls for managing user-generated content in real-time.

Jandali said Reddit’s existing advertisers
very rarely express brand safety concerns. “If a brand expresses concern about
brand safety, explaining our layered approached to moderation tends to
alleviate their concerns.”

Heather Cooan, the CEO of HDC Digital, has
been running ad campaigns on Reddit for her clients intermittently since the
platform launched, but more consistently during the last year. She says her
clients have not had any brand safety concerns with Reddit.

“The advertisers I have on Reddit have a target audience that can be kind of cynical and are very security-minded and advertising averse,” said Cooan, “We have to hang out where they hang out. Brand safety is less of a concern.”

Advertisers take a hands-on approach to manage Reddit trolls

For Zachary Burt, the President of Code for Cash, a third-party recruiter of software engineers, Reddit’s tech-savvy communities offered a prime space to run ad campaigns aimed at driving traffic to the company’s job postings.

“The major issue is that if we leave comments
enabled, people occasionally troll,” said Burt when asked if he’s experienced
any brand safety issues on the platform, “We solved the problem by disabling
comments on our ads. We found that the best ads are like text posts; sometimes
instead of linking to our job application pages, offsite, we link to another
Reddit thread where the applicants can enjoy authentic discussion with their
peers, and then decide to apply.”

Duane Brown, the founder of Take Some Risk
Inc., said his agency primarily ran sponsored text ads targeting niche
sub-threads and hosted AMAs (Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” subreddit threads
involving a Q&A format) for the startups he worked with.

“Since we were targeting areas of Reddit that we felt were brand safe, we were comfortable running ads,” said Brown. His agency eventually stopped running Reddit campaigns – not because of brand safety issues, but instead because it simply was not getting strong enough ROI.    

A niche community goldmine

Burt said he targets software engineers on
Reddit using the tech-specific subreddits along with the site’s geo-targeting

“I can tell you that we are achieving cost-per-click rates that are about 50% lower than other channels for targeting our market of software developers,” said Burt, “This is actually typical with new PPC platforms — we saw the same with Quora ads as well.”

Cooan has also found success targeting very
specific niche communities on Reddit.

“I tend to get a lot of clients that are in
the industrial and technical verticals and I have found that Reddit is a place
where their target audience – engineers and IT professionals – hang out,” said
Cooan. Her target audience is often made up to people who don’t usually respond
to advertising, so she uses messaging that is either super technical or
sarcastic while still providing value.

“The key is the offer. These folks are very
sensitive about what information they are willing to give,” said Cooan, “For
example, they are not going to give their information to gain access to a
whitepaper, but they will for a schematic.”

Jandali notes the importance of niche
communities in terms of how Reddit’s layered approach to targeting works.

“We coach brands to start conversations where they’re hyper-relevant, extend that engagement to broader communities, and eventually rebroadcast the conversation to our largest communities,” said Jandali, “The key is staring the conversation in a niche community and moving ‘up-funnel’ once the content and tone has been established.”

app install ads with third-party attribution options and tracking capabilities. In January, Reddit introduced its first performance-based ad unit with the launch of its cost-per-click ads. It also recruited Twitter’s former co-founder of performance ads business earlier this year, naming Shariq Rizvi Vice President of ad products and engineering.

Reddit may still have a ways to go in terms of what it can deliver for advertisers compared to Google, Facebook and Instagram. But, for brands aiming to connect with niche audiences, Reddit offers a unique opportunity — giving advertisers an alternative to social feeds saturated with ads.

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