Reddit is out to charm agencies and brands — and Madison Avenue — into trusting it with their ad dollars and with new hires in New York, where it has a growing team.
This week, Reddit announced Mary Ann Belliveau is joining the company as its new senior director of brand partnerships. Belliveau was most recently a national sales director at Twitter, where she worked for four years. Prior to Twitter, she spent 11 years at Google, where she helped found the company’s marketing team. Belliveau’s experience in sales at platforms, especially ones looking to improve their relationships with advertisers, made her a strong hire, said Jen Wong, chief operating officer at Reddit.
“Community [like at Reddit] is really different than social media, new pattern, different value. We’re birthing a new narrative and discipline to marketers. She’s been through that cycle before and can help us shape that,” Wong said.
Indeed, Belliveau worked in Google’s New York office when the platform was still trying to figure out their sales strategy. She is now part of Reddit’s growing team in New York, where there are now about 60 people. That office is also hiring for its new ads engineering team, dedicated to machine learning and ads optimization. The New York office is in addition to Reddit’s about 400 people at its San Francisco headquarters and its smaller offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dublin.
Belliveau joins other sales leaders across the organization: Zubair Jandali leads the entire Brand Partnerships organization from San Francisco; Neal Hubman leads West Coast Brand Partnerships; Adam Carl leads Brand Partnerships in the Midwest; Will Cady leads brand strategy from Los Angeles; Leanne Doan leads agency development from New York; Jack Koch leads measurement and insights from New York; Alex Riccomini leads business development in San Francisco; and Shariq Rizi leads ads engineering in San Francisco.
As its new sales lead, Belliveau said she doesn’t plan on immediately altering Reddit’s sales organization, which is currently structured regionally rather than by verticals.
“We need to socialize what Reddit is and how to work with us in terms of moving your business forward and proving that out to them. In a way, that’s data-driven. We have a lot of basic goals, which is to have a sales org that’s top-notch, where everybody’s on the same page and we’re instilling trust,” Belliveau said.
Part of growing that trust is being a more “proactive marketer,” Reddit’s vp of marketing and business development, Roxy Young, told Digiday in January. And that includes attending more conferences and events. Reddit met with five of the six major agency holding companies and several advertisers at CES in January. Reddit’s head of brand strategy Will Cady presented at this year’s Social Media Week New York and will present again at the conference’s Los Angeles event.
“People hate ads, but people love brands,” Cady said during his presentation on May 1. He shared an example of Chipotle using Reddit for feedback on new products like queso and Keto bowl and YouTube Music creating playlists for topic-specific pages on the site called subreddits.
Reddit is looking to expand its relationships with brands in CPG, beauty, fast food, consumer tech, telecom and entertainment.
“We’re focused on all brands, but the brands that see the most success [on Reddit] are the ones seeking transformation or looking into break into a new space. Auto is really exciting for us because that whole industry is going through a transformation,” Cady told Digiday.
Brand safety continues to deter some marketers from advertising on Reddit. In a Digiday survey of 94 client-side marketers in April, 38% of respondents said they avoided Reddit due to brand-safety concerns. Cady told Digiday he saw this concern as a perception problem, citing Reddit’s platformwide community standards, subreddit-specific rules, human moderators and its anti-evil engineering teams.
“Our layered moderation is extremely unique. We see other platforms catching up to us. But nothing makes a brand feel safer than building trust,” Cady said.
Wong said Reddit is prioritizing clarifying its position as well as building more products for advertisers. Last year, it released selling video ads on a cost-per-view basis. Earlier this year, it released cost-per-click ads and other performance-based advertising options.
“Our next step is to have our product better reflect our distinctiveness and uniqueness in terms of measurement and insights. People are seeking something different, and we’re really different,” Wong said.
This story was updated to add the names of some regional sales management at Reddit.