Peggy Anne Salz

At Reddit, all of 2018 was spent building the foundational elements of its site redesign. Advertisers are pumped about the new site and are gung-ho about reaching Reddit's community. Our host, Peggy Anne Salz, talks to Ryan Angerami, Performance Lead at Reddit about the tweaks advertising strategies will need to reach its users. Hashtags will make you look tone-deaf and you have to learn the lingo, but there's more to reaching Redditors.


Peggy: Hey, hi, I'm Peggy Anne Salz at Mobile Growth Summit and we are talking to our speakers and some special people, and I'm really excited now because we have Ryan Angerami. He is Head of Performance Lead rather at Reddit. And the reason, Ryan, I want to have you here and I sought you out specifically is because we have a new phase, I would say, in Reddit. So what is Reddit now as opposed to what Reddit was before?


Ryan: I think Reddit is still the same community and same user base of passionate individuals we've always had, I think we've just brought the site and a lot of, like, our technology behind, sort of, serving our client's needs up to the 21st century, which was previously not there.


Peggy: Kept the guy, though, right?


Ryan: Snoo? Snoo, yeah.


Peggy: Kept the mascot. Kept Snoo, kept Snoo. Okay. So we've got Snoo and we've got a new focus. I mean, it's been a busy time. You have not only just done the redesign of your website, but you've done a lot more, you know, in the plumbing, I would say, to make all this possible. So, what have you actually...? You know, if you could say, "This has been the accomplishment," what would it be?


Ryan: Oof. I would say all the credit goes to our, like, ads engineering and product teams, like, they are the huge accomplishment makers. All of 2018 was, sort of, spent building all of these foundational things we've needed to have. So, we didn't even have our own ads platform before March last year. We didn't have mobile ads on our in-app experience until last year, which sounds like a very 2012 thing to say. We've launched native video. We just, about a week ago, launched CPC. We just announced app install. So there's a lot of things that they have been building and rolling out which we're super stoked for.


Peggy: I mean, it's interesting because I talk to a lot of growth marketers. I do a lot of work in the industry, you know, books, writing. And so, I'm doing this one report and I'm saying, "Okay, untapped opportunity, 2019, what is it?" And I ask people, and then they tell me, and they say, "Well, you know, you have to get your head around AI and you got to do more with Facebook," and that's fine. But what else that came through many times over, "Have to get your head around Reddit." So a lot of people were saying, "I have to figure out this platform. I can get users, I can engage users," maybe it's not even acquisition, just engagement. So, if you could talk to them since they're already, you know, pumped about Reddit from 2019, what should they be doing to get ready for this?


Ryan: Yeah.


Peggy: I mean, is it a different mindset, because it's certainly a different audience?


Ryan: Yeah, absolutely a different mindset. I think that's been one of the things that we've tried to convey to clients is that, you know, what necessarily works best on Facebook, and Google, and other places that you're running should be definitely tweaked for Reddit. I think Reddit does really well with real, organic, honest conversations. And the clients that we've seen do really well, or where they're inserting themselves into conversations, or having really strong prompts to the community that are relevant to them.


Peggy: Okay.


Ryan: Instead of just necessarily being like a billboard on the side of the highway for them.


Peggy: So if you could give some ideas, I mean, tweaks, that sounds intriguing. I mean, what is it, is it being, you know, a useful brand? Is it being helpful? Is this something that works for certain app categories and not others? I mean, that tweaking. I'd like to explore that.


Ryan: Yeah. So it's everything from how you're engaging with the community. So when you're entering in to, like, answering comments on your post, making sure that you have, like, a very, actual, real, unpolished, raw responses to them as if you would talk to a friend is what the community appreciates, not necessarily, like, you hawking your widget to them.


Peggy: Got it, okay.


Ryan: I'd say with that too, knowing the platform that you're on. So hashtags don't work on Reddit. If you use them, you're gonna, kind of, look a little tone-deaf. So using things like Reddit vernacular. So TIL is today, I learned, YSK is, you should know. And there's all these other like little abbreviations on the site that people, like, appreciate you speaking their language for.


Peggy: So, I mean, it's relatively new. Yes, you said you built the platform as of March. Do you have some examples that, maybe not with a name necessarily, but, like, what can I expect when I'm using Reddit to engage my users? I mean, is it engagement or is it acquisition as a platform?


Ryan: Yeah. So yes to the two questions.


Peggy: It can acquire. Because it seems like you would, like, build, but you can't just go in there and say, I'm going to do my straight acquisition and think of top-of-funnel and it'll work with Reddit.


Ryan: So the last four years were really spent on more of the building a rapport with, you know, your user base. If you're an advertiser coming onto the platform, that's really what the last three and a half, four years have been, Reddit focused on.


Peggy: Okay.


Ryan: I mean, 2018 and '19 now has all been, okay, now how can we be a sustainable user acquisition play for folks? Instead of just like, we have this really, you know, great community that you can tap into, now how can they actually be efficiently backing into your KPIs?


Peggy: Okay, what they love. And I know Thomas Petite, say hi to him there. He is one of the people who are also very bullish about Reddit. But, you know, there's always like a little growth hacker tweak and this isn't that way. This isn't that way where you can say, "Well, you know, you gotta do this certain keyword and go for this volume or you can, you know, reverse engineer Apple search ads, you know." This is not that kind of thing. So is there any, sort of, growth hack you could share?


Ryan: Yeah, I'd say, know, depending on if you're going for, like, more of like the engagement strategy versus, like, the UA performance strategy that we're trying to lead up, there's always going to be, like, tons of different answers of, like, how to best engage that community, I would say...


Peggy: Okay, but nothing technical, nothing you can, like, tweak and fix an algorithm somewhere.


Ryan: If you can find out for me...


Peggy: I'll let you know, right.


Ryan: would help my life a lot more. No, I think for that reason, you know, one of the things that we've said is that the ads platform is so new. No one is an expert on it. And so we've created this managed service team within performance to be able to help people agnostically hit their KPIs.


Peggy: Okay.


Ryan: So with that, like, we're figuring out as we do these tests, like, what community is going to work best, what platform is going to work best, what targeting levers are actually making, like the biggest effect for people agnostic of pricing, and products, and things like that.


Peggy: And you've also invested, of course, in the formats, I mean, native video. That sounds very exciting. Tell me about that.


Ryan: Yeah, so that was something that we launched in September of last year. We saw, like, a tremendous amount of growth on the consumer side of just launching native video earlier in 2018. And then we parlayed that into an actual consumer-facing product for clients to tap into. So in September, we launched CPV, so it allows advertisers to buy only on a video view. So previous to that, we only ever had CPM, which is, you know, if you're running video views, it's not something necessarily that you want to spend time on. So CPV was like our first foray into, like, an objective-based cost model.


Peggy: But that's different, isn't it, to do that?


Ryan: Yeah.


Peggy: I mean, is that because it also resonates with the audience? Are they video viewers, are they getting into this? Is this like the special sauce at Reddit? It's not just, this is something I learned but this is something I viewed. Right?


Ryan: Yeah, I think...


Peggy: Or enhanced.


Ryan: It depends on the community that you're talking to. So every single community is gonna have its own different rules and how they like to be engaged. Some are going to be very text-heavy, some are going to be very image-heavy, some are gonna appreciate videos. So I'd say with that, I wouldn't say overall all things video work on Reddit, you, kind of, have to know the audiences that you're speaking to.


Peggy: So, out marketers, you know, they're watching us, they're saying, "Yeah, you know, I get it, I want to get in on it." How do they understand the audience? Are they going to be able to come to you and say, "Look, I have an app, and it does this, and I want to get the right audience," or are they gonna have to figure it out and do, like, you know, a little bit of research into the tribal behavior on Reddit to figure it out? I mean, because that's not an easy play.


Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. Usually what we'll do is we'll work with them to understand what their audience is, what are they trying to back into. If we feel like that's a good mix for both what they're trying to do and for the community that we have on Reddit. And then what we can also do is do a lot of different A/B testing. So how does a particular interest group that might be into gaming do?


Peggy: So I can do that on your platform?


Ryan: You can, yeah, yeah, yeah. How does that particular interest do versus a particular sub-Reddit? And then honestly, like, very quickly having fluidity between all of those different levers to see which one is resonating the best, which one might have, like, the best LTV, and, kind of, going from there.


Peggy: Well, that's really good. And what about overall? I mean, some people are saying, you know, it's always the case, right? A new platform, not everyone's there. It's always great, get in early and get going and get moving. That's always the strategy. But, you know, for some people if they say, "Well, why should I do this?" I mean, can you give me just like a ballpark figure of, like, uplift or the reason to make the effort, because, you know, they'll say, "I'm doing all my other platforms. What do I get when I go into Reddit?" How would you sum that up?


Ryan: Yeah, I would say be open and honest about what your KPI is. And I think with us, as much as we don't want to, you know, waste your guy's time is at the paramount for us. If we don't think we can back into a certain goal or if we don't feel like we have your audience, it's not something that we want to necessarily, like, lead you down that path. I would say 2018, there was a lot of, like, people raising their hand to be first movers.


Peggy: Yeah.


Ryan: And we probably spent a lot of time saying, like, "Talk to us in six months. We're not there yet."


Peggy: Got it. And app categories, I mean, it's interesting because, for example, like gaming, you know, it has evolved, you know, you think about gaming as a service. So it's not just like, you know, you get the game. It's like involve yourself in the game, get into the strategy of it. Might not always be the best fit. But I'm sure there are some app categories that are, like, really issuing [SP] and what would they be?


Ryan: Yeah. So you, kind of, hit the nail on the head, gaming.


Peggy: Yeah.


Ryan: When Reddit started 13 years ago, it was a lot of entertainment. It was a lot of tech news. It was a lot of gaming. And that has definitely proliferated throughout the last decade-plus. And I'd say with just launching our app install product, we're seeing a ton of gaming companies come on board and seeing success because there's a relatively untapped audience they haven't been able to reach before. With that said, we also do really well for, like, streaming-style, like...


Peggy: So, entertainment, that type of stuff.


Ryan: ...entertainment. But, like, folks that are, like, focused on, like, cord-cutting and, like, wanna, like, explore, like, the Hulus and PS Vue solutions of the world.


Peggy: Got it. I could imagine also a little bit like the utility, techie cool stuff. You know, like that cutting edge, like, product hunt meets...


Ryan: Yeah.


Peggy: ...meets Reddit in a way.


Ryan: Yeah. And, kind of, on that note, we do really well with, sort of, anything that is, like, tech-focused. So, whether it's like the products themselves, but also like B2B programmer style, like, you know, the higher end or Triplebyte type of companies.


Peggy: And I'm just curious because you have the different formats, you know, you have your video and you have also the performance formats. But since it's a community, would, like, not necessarily "the influencer marketing," you know, the celebrity, take the money and tell you whatever you want to hear type of stuff. Because that's not gonna work. You guys are going to smell that a mile away. But would, like, subtle influencer marketing work?


Ryan: I'd say Reddit is extremely savvy. Redditors are extremely savvy and I'd say, you know, there is this self-policing nature on Reddit, whether it's an advertiser or if it's like an organic user commenting of upvoting good content that's relevant and downvoting things that are not relevant.


Peggy: So you are gonna be prepared.


Ryan: So I think people are gonna sniff out pretty quickly if you're just trying to hawk a product...


Peggy: Yeah.


Ryan: ...and not necessarily actually providing something of value to the users.


Peggy: I mean, another reason to do it would just be like to A/B test and get a feel for the audience data. It's not always about, you know, hawking something, selling something. That's really important. But I'm hearing that more and more from out marketers also that they go into platforms rather than search and reach the North Star Metric of their life. Right? It's just to see does this float, does this fail? Because you've got a very savvy audience. If you want to have A/B testing on steroids, I mean, this is like the place, right?


Ryan: They'll be very honest with you.


Peggy: They'll be bitingly honest. Yeah. So 2019, we're in it. And you guys certainly aren't slowing down, so what can we expect from you in 2019?


Ryan: Yeah, I think it's going to be building on a lot of the success that we have seen come to fruition in these early couple of weeks of 2019 and more of these foundational elements that we still need to build on. You know, our performance team is brand new. It was 0 people last year, and now we are up to 10 folks.


Peggy: Okay.


Ryan: So a small but mighty team, but backed by a tremendous amount of support from our ads engine product folks. Sharak [SP] ended up recently joining from his previous days at Twitter from 2012, 2016 where he was really instrumental in the hyper-growth on their product side. So we're extremely excited to see what he's been bringing to the table for all the products that we need to launch on our roadmap.


Peggy: I'm excited to follow that. I can imagine I'll be seeing you at more Mobile Growth Summit events and certainly I'll be checking in, maybe in around six months. But thank you, Ryan, for being on Global Growth Summit.


Ryan: Thank you so much.


Peggy: And thank you, for tuning in.