Pernod Ricard’s Absolut buys ads on ‘raw and organic’ Reddit

Reddit’s push to build its fledgling ad business is starting to pique the interest of some advertisers. Eager for new alternatives to the duopoly, Pernod Ricard is buying ads on the high-trafficked site.

The advertiser has been looking at the site since October when it bought its first ads. Video ads for Absolut played automatically in subreddit forums dedicated to specific topics on both mobile and desktop versions of the site between October and December. Absolut targeted the ads to key audiences in subreddits on topics tied to areas such as “funny” and “LGBTQ.”

“We wanted to test the platform, and specifically assess the community engagement with our creative, as we had various creative with different lengths,” said Simon de Beauregard, Pernod Ricard’s director of engagement in the U.S. He felt video view rates were the best KPI for the 30 second native ads it bought, which generated double the Reddit benchmark. Also, click-through rates were low at 0.5 percent, though not a big issue for this campaign given it was not the main KPI.

Video completion rates were used to measure the shorter 8 to 10 second video ads, which were 2.5 times higher than Reddit’s benchmark. It showed that more people were willing to view the content until the end, said de Beauregard. 70 percent of the views for the shorter video ads happened on mobile.

The mix of longer and shorter ads on the site led to an 8 percent increase in top of mind awareness for Absolut among those users who had not previously purchased the vodka, per Pernod Ricard’s analysis. For a first attempt at buying ads on Reddit, the results were solid enough that de Beauregard would consider putting the site on future media plans.

“Reddit is a very raw and organic platform,” de Beauregard said. “This experience has proven that the platform could deliver extremely solid results and we now know better how to maximize its potential to offer the best seamless engaging experience to our audience, so we could test it more in the future.”

Like its larger rivals, buying ads on Reddit comes with risks. Brand safety is a concern, but no more or less than it is on YouTube. Reddit’s advantage is that the platform was built on having moderators, and self-regulation to keep Subreddits on track. Those same mechanisms can protect advertisers, according to Reddit.

Reddit has stepped up efforts to grow its ad business having recently launched ad products geared toward performance marketing objectives. If the site can show advertisers its ads drive actions like sales then that’s a surefire way to win more ad budget. As it stands, not enough advertisers are aware it even has an ads business. Neither three network agencies or two independent agencies contacted by Digiday for comment on Reddit’s ad business had someone who knew enough about the platform to talk on the record. Plans are already underway to elevate its U.S.-based ad business among advertisers this year, as evidenced by the early efforts of some agencies.

“We can’t say Reddit performs better on any given metric than another platform,” said Amanda Parker, account account supervisor at PMG, who has bought ads on Reddit for clients. “But it is certainly less ubiquitous on media plans than other platforms, suggesting less competition.”

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