Peggy Anne Salz

Live from MGS20, our host Peggy Anne Salz talks to Ashleigh Rankin, Brand Partnerships - Performance and Ryan Angerami, Performance Lead at Reddit. Together they dive into the importance of community and how self-selecting audiences have helped advertisers reach the right audiences on Reddit. But Ashleigh also says, "Test everything!" Casting a wider net could be key to your success.


Peggy: And we are cool. We are ready to roll. And I've always wanted to say it, it's like late-night, right? So, James couldn't make it. No, I'm just kidding. But we are in a sort of like a talk-show thing here. We're live at Mobile Growth Summit, and this is an amazing booth, Reddit Podcast Studio. We're famous. We're listed on the side. And we're gonna do a live show because, I mean, when you came to me you said, "Hey let's do this is." I was like, "Yeah, absolutely." So, we've got Ashleigh Rankin who is Growth partner lead, or something [crosstalk 00:00:53]


Ashleigh: Growth partnerships manager, yeah.


Peggy: Exactly, okay. We got that one. Ryan Angerami, you are performance lead.


Ryan: Correct.


Peggy: Correct, at Reddit. So, I don't think that Reddit needs a lot of introduction, but we could do, like, the high-level thing for anybody who's just tuning in. I mean, for me, watching the industry, watching you guys, watching your presentation, I would just say it's a really hot channel. But let's just do a quick top-level look at Reddit. Maybe you wanna take it, Ashleigh.


Ashleigh: Oh, I thought Ryan was gonna take this one. So, Reddit is a network of communities, ultimately, where people can find things that they're interested in, and really spend time engaging with specific interests that they have. Do you wanna add anything to that?


Ryan: Absolutely a massive site. It's been around for almost 15 years, 15 years this year, 430 million monthly users. Again, the community aspect is what brings everybody on here. So, you really can find something that resonates with your passion points and go really deep.


Peggy: So, what sort of, like, brought the two of you together? Because I understand it that you found Ashleigh, brought her over to Reddit. Was it a hard sell?


Ryan: I don't think it was a hard sell.


Ashleigh: It wasn't a hard sell. It wasn't for me.


Ryan: So, we met probably seven or eight years ago. I worked at Pandora over in Oakland. And Ashleigh was one of the first or second hires out of the agency, a mobile agency here in SF. She was actually my client when she was buying for Supercell, and we ran a really successful campaign, and then she didn't buy anything from me again for six years.


Ashleigh: But we did stay friends.


Ryan: Did stay friends.


Peggy: That's really interesting. So, you like, brought her in through a successful campaign. I mean, I have to say full disclosure, another thing is I've interviewed both of you independently on different podcasts. I think that yours is slightly more popular. Could that be?


Ashleigh: Slightly more popular.


Ryan: I checked this morning to be super up to date on this.


Peggy: Oh, you checked this...okay, all right, okay.


Ashleigh: Oh my gosh.


Ryan: And Ashleigh has eight times the amount of views or listens than I do. That's not an exaggeration, eight times.


Peggy: I don't know. We must have some form of chemistry going, Ashleigh, here. I think it might be. It must be indeed.


Ashleigh: I think that's true, yeah. I think I'm actually just a lot more popular than Ryan, and so, therefore, a lot more people are interested in what I have to say.


Peggy: Okay.


Ryan: I hear that a lot.


Peggy: Well, speaking of popular, I mean, I have to say that, you know, I'm out there in the industry, I listen at everything I'm interviewing, you know, easily three, four people a week in the industry. And I asked some, you know, tell me as a growth marketer, what are you excited about? What are you looking at? And, you know, full disclosure, this is not planned, but they just say to me, you know, 2020 is the year. I wanna check out Reddit. I wanna figure this out. I wanna do this. They see it as a channel of opportunity. And I wonder to myself, you know, is it really that hard that they have to make it like a stretched goal? I mean cracking Reddit sounds like it's really, really a challenge when maybe it's a way of perceiving Reddit maybe, you know, frightened by the idea of dealing with communities rather than data and numbers.


Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I feel like that might have been a problem, maybe even before our time. So, I've been there for almost two years, actually just past a year. 2019 was sort of our first time growing this actual team to focus on, you know, mobile DR, user acquisition. And maybe it's just the nature of the space where you have a lot of first movers, but we had folks flocking to one of our...for this. A lot of them honestly just wanted to challenge the duopoly. Like, a lot of their buys are going to two separate channels and their desire to diversify that was really strong. In addition of that, this is a good feeling, we have a lot of advocates because people are already Redditors with being like the number five site in the U.S., people are really familiar with the site already, so they understand, like, the power of that community, and they just wanna be the first mover to actually unlock it.


Ashleigh: Yeah. I think one of the most exciting things for me whenever I decided to move over to Reddit, was that people self-select into what they're interested in. So unlike other platforms and other social platforms where you're trying to find a specific demo or audience, with Reddit you raise your hand to say, "Hey, I'm interested in cooking, I'm interested in sports, I'm interested in gaming." And it's really nice to be able to sell that to an audience versus, you know, this is a person who may be interested in this thing. You really cut out the middleman and I think that's what's been really exciting for me.


Peggy: So, I did an article not long ago, and I mentioned Reddit on "Forbes" where I'm a contributor, and we were talking about that great example of "Rick and Morty," which is just so cool, right? And I was thinking about they joined the Super Bowl. I was thinking, you know, the whole community is going crazy with this great "Rick and Morty" commercial. But it doesn't have to be a brand like that. It can be a different brand. So, I mean, you're dealing with brands all the time. Is there a certain type of brand marketer, a certain type of brand that can get involved in Reddit? Or is it really just make it what you can?


Ashleigh: Yeah. I mean, I think the way that there is a community for everyone in Reddit means that a lot of different brands can succeed obviously. And there are some that make more sense than others. And I think Ryan has a few examples of people who've really leaned in and made Reddit work for them. There are some verticals that work really, really well, but honestly, there is something for everyone on Reddit. So, we definitely encourage people, especially in our team to test it out. But I think Ryan has some really good examples.


Peggy: So, like, verticals that really work, what would you say are some of them?


Ryan: So, I think, like, first and foremost a lot of people think about us, about tech and gaming, and, you know, things that really, like, started with Reddit back 15 years. One of the things that we saw emerge last year was, on Reddit, you can be yourself. So, the things that you broadcast out to the community are not the same things that you would broadcast out if it wasn't an anonymous platform. So, FinTech is actually one of the biggest channels for us.


Peggy: FinTech? On Reddit? You wouldn't imagine that. What does a campaign look like for FinTech? I'm trying to think that one through. And it would make sense because it's personal, personal finance, you're passionate about that, but run me through that because that's a totally different vertical than I expected.


Ryan: We've seen everything from, like, the really big financial institutions, doing AMAs about investing, about planning for your future, all the way down to newer on the scene app developers that are looking for user acquisition. And because people are coming to Reddit already, they have a more honest conversation of, hey, here's my debt. Here is, like, what I'm looking to do get to retirement, to go into these fire communities, whatever it is. And because people are already having this honest conversation, I think they're a lot more receptive to an app developer that wants to come in and message to them what their value prof is.


Peggy: I imagine, I was like, app marketers are talking so much now about, you know, I really wanna start with a highly valuable audience to start. I really don't wanna spread it out and have that outlier risk there. I really wanna focus. I mean, what do you tell, like, the hard-nosed app marketer about how they need to approach, you know, Reddit, as a platform? Is it something that they should experiment with or have a certain type of call-to-action? I mean, it's a great community to connect with, but it's a little bit of a trick to figure out the right way to engage. Why don't you take it, Ashleigh? You're engaging with your clients.


Ashleigh: Yeah, I mean, I think there are different ways for different brands to work, right. And for our app marketers and for very performance and DR heavy clients, we really try to get them to make the use of the site in general. So, we would run a run of site campaign which is on whitelisted communities, to figure out what works first, right. And you don't wanna fit into this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of I'm a gaming app, I'm gonna go only to gaming subreddits and gaming communities because you don't know what works outside of that if you don't test what works outside of that. And so, a lot of what our team do is really, spend time with our advertiser partners, and walk them through a testing strategy on Reddit. I think one of the recent examples was a gaming client found a ton of success with the parenting community which is not what you necessarily...


Peggy: No, you're not expecting that.


Ashleigh: You know, and this is...yeah, and this is why we tell people, you know, test everything and figure out what works from there.


Peggy: So what are like some great surprises there? Because when you think about it, it makes sense, you have to cast a wider net, because you have to see people as beyond that initial interest. Like you said, gaming and parenting communities, right, it makes sense. Maybe they wanna find a game to babysit their kids or something or find games that they can trust, right. So, what are some wild examples out there? Because I think the thing for marketers, is you have to sort of, like, open the aperture of how you see this. So what's like really wild? What's an eye-opener? Maybe you, Ryan, have an example.


Ryan: Yeah. I think when both of us both came on board, we were leading a lot of clients down to, "Hey, run a promoted post on Reddit but don't do comments on it." You know, and I'm just, like, I don't want someone... Even if they're a fan of you, they get distracted on the way to the apps. Like, I want them to click, convert, and it's a much cleaner way for us to optimize. I think we both completely flip-flopped on that when we see it done really well. When somebody doesn't comment on strategy, is actually engaging with the community, is coming with a very open mind to having, maybe, their perceptions changed as a client to the different users. And for the folks that have invested in having that type of relationship with clients, like, the comments on approach is by far our recommendation to use this. But not every client has the bandwidth to be able to do that. So, we do offer, whether you wanna do comments on or off, or other solutions like AMAs.


Ashleigh: And I think the key that we find with people who do strategies with comments on is really...they need to be authentic. Like, everything in our platform is all about authenticity and being real. And the people that lean into it, and do it in a way that's true to Reddit, and true to their own brand are the people that actually really succeed.


Peggy: I mean, we know the do's. The do's, like, absolutely be authentic. And for some brand marketers who are, like, out in data, that sounds a little bit, yeah, but, you know, how am I going to measure it? How am I gonna know if I'm authentic enough in my messaging? So, why don't we marry a little bit of that goodwill with some hard data? I mean, what is it that they can be looking at it or should be looking at when they're looking at Reddit to figure out, this is one where I need to dial up spend, or I need to experiment more. You know, there's, like, signposts along the way. What would that be?


Ashleigh: I think this one is on you.


Peggy: Do you wanna take it? Okay, she'll give it to you.


Ryan: Yeah. So, we actually just 15 minutes ago announced, we're gonna adjust one of the MMPs that we've been partnering with. And we now support postbacks in our UI. And you've gotta have a little bit of fun with it, pretend like it was 2012 because we know we're a little late to the game and kind of being self-aware about that. But in 2019, we were able to see a lot of success in mobile app install without postbacks. And a lot of...all of those optimizations were built off of VLOOKUPs, Excel, a lot of that back and forth. Some of the things that we ended up learning from that are LTV tends to be really, really strong. We've gotten feedback from some of our clients that our conversion rates tend to be 1.5X to 2X stronger. We got a public case study with Zynga for their CSR racing game that says that. And the lifetime value of the ROAS, the ROI story, it feels like every client that we're talking to says that we're on the upper echelon. The other thing I'd say is that, aside from like those optimization lovers of price and the platform that you're on, creative, by far, has had the biggest impact. So, even something as simple as like, we'll take a video that somebody's is running on YouTube, or they're running on Facebook, and we'll take a static image that they're also running on other platforms, but then taking the headline itself, and being open and honest with the community of, hey, this is our actual value prop, here's what we're actually saying, we're not trying to be too salesy, we're not trying to be too in somebody's face, and garnering that kind of trust and respect has really gone a long way, as an optimization level.


Peggy: And they're also getting a better feedback loop because that's something that a lot of marketers complain about is, it's a black box, right.


Ryan: Right, right.


Peggy: And, how do you... I mean, I said at the top of the show that people, like, are telling me they wanna crack it, right. We talked about some do's. What are some don'ts to Reddit? I mean, if they're focused on Reddit and they're saying, I wanna understand this channel...because it does offer opportunity. I mean, that's just a fact. That's not marketing. There's an interesting community, you know, wealth of communities, cultures, to tap into but there's also like an etiquette of Reddit, isn't there? I mean, there must be, like, you know, some sort of tribal thing, what you do, what you don't do. What are some don'ts?


Ashleigh: Yeah. I mean, I think the main thing that we try to tell people is don't copy and paste strategies from other platforms that you think have worked for you in the past, because it is a unique platform and the people who lean into that, and the people who are able to actually speak to Redditors are the people who succeed. So, basically don't copy paste other strategies is a really big one. And I think also with the creative side, you know, there's a fine line between, "Yeah, It's Reddit. We're gonna use memes and we're gonna do this and we're gonna really lean into this community."


Peggy: Exactly. Cats.


Ashleigh: Yeah, cats. But if it's not true to your brand, it's not gonna work either. So, it's finding that balance I think that is really important for advertisers and for our clients, and what we try to walk through with them whenever we work with them on strategies.


Peggy: So, you're a little bit open with the data and you have, like, a new, you know, like how-to guide. So you're really showing people how to do this. I mean, is there anything that you're seeing in there that they... If you had to give people a scorecard right now for how they're experimenting in Reddit, how they're sort of like grasping it, what would you say, where are they right now? Do marketers...are people getting the most out of Reddit or are we just, like, scratching the surface? There are some great case studies, but I get the feeling we can be doing more.


Ryan: I know we're totally drinking the Kool-Aid, but I feel like absolutely just scratching the surface. I think, so much of what excites us about being here and doing what we're doing is that we saw a lot of success last year when we started this DR business, with, you know, very, very archaic technology. Like, literally everything was Excel pivot tables to make optimization decisions. So, knowing that, like, we're investing so much in the DR space, in places like Mobile Growth Summit to help app developers, I'm really jazzed for what 2020, 2021 is gonna bring. I think, you know, there's some maybe older perceptions of how somebody actually uses Reddit, or what they knew of Reddit maybe back in 2012, that maybe it still linger in how somebody actually goes and sets up their own campaign. That's one of the reasons that we did this, I think it's 56 pages, so it's really like an instruction manual on how to set up a campaign. I think a lot of folks don't realize how much of our inventory is being consumed on mobile. And we didn't even have a mobile app until two and a half, three years ago. So, while we know that's very late to the game, I think a lot of folks thought we were very desktop in every platform, which while we still have desktop users, 80% of all of our impressions are available in mobile, which is way different than two years ago.


Peggy: I mean, people think about it and say, "Well, I'm gonna crack it to acquire users." But is it an acquisition channel or is it retention? I mean, what do you see as being what Reddit does best or better? Or is it all of the above? I mean, without drinking the Kool-Aid, I just wanna know, you know, acquisition or retention or brand awareness, what works there?


Ashleigh: I mean, we have... We're an acquisition platform for sure. We also have our brand team who focuses on the big, splashy custom campaigns, the AMAs, the crazy custom execution, and then our team, the growth partnerships team is really focused on user acquisition, DR, and really tracking performance. So, I think that's kind of the way that we're set up, as two different teams.


Peggy: So you talk about tracking performance. I'm gonna open up some numbers because, you know, that's what marketers want. They wanna understand, you know, what can I expect with some uplifts? What's some ranges here? Because they wanna know the benchmarks as well. I don't know if you've released, like, benchmark reports, but it'd great to understand, you know, how this moves the needle, because I'm sure for some brands, you know, you've got as for example, your gaming example, you know, there are some surprises, but it's also great to understand what's the benchmark or what can I achieve because then people wanna know, am I aligned with that, can and I go under it, over it, overachiever, underachiever. What are some numbers you can share?


Ryan: Yeah. I mean, we're in this unique position right now given, like, the size of the platform overall. But we're actually not a self-contributing network. So, all of the MMPs that we work with, Adjust, AppsFlyer, Kochava, Branch, etc., we're actually relying on them to send that signal back to us for, like, an app install, for instance, of, you know, hey if you're a client, you're paying these MMPs to be this agnostic source of truth for you. And then those MMPs are now sending that data right back to us instead of us creating our own home. I think, in the results again this is all pre postbacks, that was a hard sentence to say, a lot of the conversion rates that we tend to see are about 1.5X to 2X better than what our clients are sharing from other social emerging channels. I think, you know, certainly last year, in the last 12 months, it took us a lot longer to be able to start making those optimizations because we don't have this massive machine that we could just throw a problem in, and a result comes out of the other side. It was so much built on humans, which is why I think the next 12 months are gonna be super fast.


Ashleigh: Yeah. I think we had a conversation this morning, in the last few days, we've had three or four different account managers on our team say, oh, our client just said we're, like, three times the ROAS of anyone else, or three times cheaper than anyone else that we're running," which is crazy for us because we're just on the cusp of actually what I think both of us know we can do for this year, so it's really exciting.


Peggy: It's always about get in early. That's what I've heard so many times from different conferences, you know, get into the platforms early, experiment...


Ashleigh: And lean on us to help test. Like, we know what works. We are in the platform work. Our managers are in the platform every single day. So, lean on us to help set your strategies, and test different things and test creative. We know what works and what doesn't, so really work with us.


Peggy: Well, show us some of that. Because that's what everyone's been talking about, you know, what works, what doesn't. Creative is a really hot topic, but in Reddit, it's not just the creative, it's like a culture and a language and different stuff. So I can have, like, maybe a crap creative, but if I have a great, authentic language, I might be doing really well. So, what are some of the variables there? What works?


Ryan: I think it depends on what the client is actually looking to achieve. We would have a very, very different answer if somebody came to us and said, "Hey, I wanna go and have an organic presence in a very, very specific fan community and be able to grow that out," for somebody that came to us and said, "Listen, I don't have a lot of bandwidth. Manage my campaign, and try to optimize to this sub-$10 CPI goal." Both of those are gonna have really, really different approaches. And while we'll probably lean on creative a lot to be able to bridge the gap in making sure, like, hey, make sure you're not talking to Redditors as if they're just some random other platform or some random other network. Speak to them in the language that they wanna be spoken to and respect the platform you're on. But I think as Ashleigh mentioned earlier, so much of what we're leaning into is, like, just test and test and test. I think we're the type of platform that we're not taking control away from clients. And if you wanna set up 500, 600, 700 granular lines to understand how a certain community, a certain creative, a certain call-to-action is running, like, we are here to help with that or tell you, you know, what the pitfalls are or not.


Peggy: Do, like, the basic call-to-action really work there? Because it seems like if you went in there and said, hey, buy me, like, the community would say, oh no, I'm not buying into this at all. So, you probably need to be very subtle, right?


Ryan: Yeah. I think...


Peggy: Not, like, we are here. You need to be a little bit less in your face. What would some of this be? I mean, what works? Because ultimately, you sort of do wanna say, "Buy me." But you don't wanna say... You wanna say, like, "Trust me," maybe, or something like that, a really tough message to get across.


Ashleigh: Yeah. I mean, I think we have 14 different calls-to-action, right, 14?


Ryan: Yeah.


Ashleigh: I think people don't mind being told, like, download now, or learn more, whenever you are being upfront about the fact that you're advertising on Reddit. So, I think one of the things that, Jen Wong, our COO said was, "People don't dislike ads. People dislike bad ads." So, the authenticity thing, I feel like I've said that 23 times, but the authenticity thing comes in here again, where, you know, if you are real about what you are, and if you're real about what you're doing, people don't mind being sold to. You know, if I put my hand up as I'm into cooking, which I am, and I get advertised something related to that, more than often I'm like, oh okay, now I understand why I got this ad. It looks interesting. I'm gonna click Download and I'm gonna download, and I'm gonna have that high ROI. So, that's the way I look at it even as a user.


Peggy: I mean, have you had it in Reddit where, like, at the Super Bowl, you know, I like, I watched...I specifically said I wanna watch all the commercials again, they were so cool. Do you have that happen at any point in the community where people, like, you know that was such an awesome one, I wanna see that again. And maybe have done like calls...


Ryan: Oh man. [crosstalk 00:22:51]


Ashleigh: Yes.


Ryan: So, if you're in San Francisco, you probably know of local celebrity Triplebyte Mike. So, Triplebyte is a client of ours, and they are an engineering recruiting platform. So, you go online, you fill out a coding quiz, and if you pass the quiz, you enter into their program and they'll help you find a job. There tends to be a lot of engineers on Reddit, and they tend to do really, really well, I wanna say, like, 2X better, 3X better than, like, there are other norms on, like, the click to conversion rate. So, we've been really, really happy working with them. They started working with us a couple of years ago, and their creator was very much like a copy and paste from other platforms that they were running. In 2019, we actually changed to be very self-aware. They have a lot of flexibility with their brand. So, they can have a lot more fun, so a lot of memes, a lot of memes within memes, a lot of meta. And it's funny because, like...


Peggy: Okay. A little bit of the geeking out, like, the audience is, okay.


Ryan: Yeah. And Mike, who's the face of Triplebyte, he actually also happens to be one of the media buyers that we work with, and he has said that he's been, like, stopped on the street where people are like, "Tripplebye Mike," or like he'll come up in, like, other completely random posts on Reddit where people are, like, "Where's Mike?" or, "Did you see, like, the drink meme that he did or the other meme?" And so it's really fun being able to say, okay, we can do silly stuff like this and it's actually is backing out better for a client. And we're probably doing wonders for my Mike's ego, as everybody in SF knows him now.


Peggy: So you're gonna be like a rock star in Reddit. What's going on with you guys? I mean, any sort of paparazzi thing going on when the two of you speak? I mean, I see you in a lot of places.


Ashleigh: I mean, I get a lot of attention, to be honest. It's actually really difficult for me to deal with it. Ryan not as much. But, you know, I take it on the chin and I stay pretty humble, and, yeah.


Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I just try to ride her coattails everywhere I go and I just try to keep up with the massive ego that Ashleigh tends to have.


Ashleigh: We actually do like each other. I don't know if that came across.


Peggy: I can see it. There's some sign of it, something, some semblance there absolutely. I mean, we're talking, it's still pretty early in the year, it'd be great to understand just a little bit before we close, we gotta wrap it up, so, in a nutshell, some idea of the roadmap for Reddit, 2020. What are some highlights? What are things, like people are gonna say wow, I gotta get in on that?


Ryan: Yeah. It feels, like, amazing talking about this, like, Reddit is15 years old this year as I said. Steve came back about four years ago, and that four years ago, four and a half years ago maybe, when he came back, that's when all of this started happening. So, that's when we started our ads engineering team, that's when we started having a sales solution, started doing the redesign. So, all of this feels like it's leading up to 2020. On the roadmap itself, you know, we make fun of ourselves for being late to the game on postbacks, but postbacks is, sort of, like, the domino for all of these other things to happen. So, to be able to have look-alikes, to be able to have CPI bidding, to be able to have retargeting, to be able to have suppression. All of that comes with this basic functionality, and all of that is like baked into our roadmap for 2020. The additional one which we actually haven't been super public about because it's new news, is we're also gonna be supporting common page ads. So, it's fairly new, in terms of Reddit overall. All of the promoted posts were previously only on your feed or, like, the subreddit that you visit. So now, we're actually gonna have the ability to have a conversation built into the common page ads themselves.


Peggy: Okay. So, that's all what's to look for in 2020. Some of that may or may not be in your 56-page guide, but you get a feel for it. We are here, you know, and it's in important, about personal development. I mean, you're one of the finalists for the mBolden Women of the Year Award. Okay, we got it. Just stop on a thought of, like, what this is gonna be for you personally, professionally? We know what to look forward from Reddit, but what do we look forward to from Ashleigh?


Ashleigh: Yeah. I mean, I'm super honored to be nominated even for that award, honestly. But ultimately, I actually wouldn't be here without the awesome team that we have, you know, our sales managers and...


Peggy: See, you count, Ryan.


Ashleigh: ...our CEO and, like, my team and...


Ryan: I think you might have to say me, to be clear.


Ashleigh: Good to know. That's true. Truly, I wouldn't be here without Ryan. It's been an awesome journey. And it's so lovely to be nominated for an award like that whenever I'm working at a company that I couldn't be happier at. So, I'm very excited to be here. Thanks, I guess...


Peggy: There you go, Ryan. And a last word from you Ryan. 2020, what's it gonna be, in a nutshell? What can we expect from you?


Ryan: Momentum. We had an absolutely awesome 2019. I think we've gotten a lot of love from you Peggy, but also, like, this community in general. I think we have a lot of folks rooting for us. So, we just wanna be able to deliver for them this year.


Peggy: That's great, momentum. I am in favor of that. We'll keep doing this and we'll keep having fun. And that's it here at Mobile Growth Summit. Here we are live in this amazing booth. And hey, come on up and check us out. Come up and say hi.