How Reddit Launched the Trending Takeover Ad Unit

Jane O'Hara
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Have you noticed that trending ads are, well, trending? As product managers consider new and innovative ad units to build, it's important to look at what other brands are doing — which is why we wanted to highlight Reddit's new Trending Takeover ad unit.

Reddit’s recent launch is garnering media and marketing attention as a custom, user-friendly, native ad unit — one built in-house without a third party.

This article will explore Reddit’s Trending Takeover ads, the PR strategy they implemented to launch them, and advice for publishers looking to create novel, user-friendly ad units.

Reddit introduces Trending Takeover

Reddit announced the public launch of its Trending Takeover ad product on March 9, 2020. The new ad units for mobile and desktop enable brands to appear as a promoted trend in Reddit’s Search tab and Popular feed for a full 24 hours.

How they’re served

Reddit offers the new native ads in second-slot ad placements in the Trending Today module on their Popular feed and the drop-down in their Search tab.

Ads appear in Trending searches and in the Trending tiles at the top of Reddit’s mobile app listings.

Reddit Trending Takeover desktop and mobile search ads
Reddit Trending Takeover desktop and mobile seach ad

Redditors who click on a Trending Takeover ad, such as the below takeover for Samsung Galaxy, are directed to a special landing page featuring paid promotional content at the top, with discourse from related subreddits (i.e., r/SamsungMobileUS) that align with the advertisers’ chosen keywords.

Reddit Trending Takeover Samsung Galaxy
Reddit Trending Takeover Samsung Galaxy
Reddit Trending Takeover Samsung Galaxy landing page
Reddit Trending Takeover Samsung Galaxy landing page
What they cost

Reddit has not released Trending Takeover pricing, but a media buyer cited by AdWeek presumes the new unit will cost advertisers a minimum of $100K for a 24-hour campaign.

This is significantly less than the approximately $250K daily rate for Twitter’s Promoted Trend Spotlight, but far more than Reddit’s current minimum daily ad spend of $5 for its auction-based units.

How they’re sold

While publicly released, Trending Takeover is not yet available programmatically on Reddit's self-serve platform. The unit is currently sold on a reservation-only basis.

How Reddit launched its first trending ad product

Reddit’s new product launch follows a similar successful product launch by Twitter when it debuted its Promoted Trend Spotlight in January 2020.

Here’s how Reddit followed Twitter’s lead (and where they diverged):

They presented a concise story about the ad unit’s origins and benefits

As with Twitter, it requires luck, effort, and money for brands to organically appear in the trending tab — hence Reddit saw a monetization opportunity by offering advertisers a way to pay to be popular.

As Reddit states in its announcement: “Fads, trends, and movements get their start in Reddit communities every day. And as we invest in highlighting those trends for user visibility and participation, it presents a huge opportunity for advertisers looking to align with conversations in real-time.”

For instance, a brand could run a Trending Takeover on the day they’re most likely to become part of the trending section organically (say, tips for making weeknight dinners, promoted by Green Giant). Or, upon the launch of a new product or initiative, they could jumpstart their efforts by paying for a trending placement.

As “the front page on the internet,” Reddit knows the value of engaging its trendsetting users and touts the platform’s potential reach:

  • More than 430M monthly users — topping Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Snapchat for comparative usage
  • More than 100K interest-based communities
  • Millions of daily searches
  • Popular feed that accounts for one-third of overall daily traffic

Reddit added more cache to the Trending Takeover origin story by citing its six-month beta tests with more than 15 partners across automotive, consumer tech, CPG, entertainment, and QSR verticals, including three distinctly different, well-known brands: Adobe, Spotify, and Method.

They provided visuals (including a video) of what they launched

Reddit’s announcement focuses on its partnership with Method and features multiple visuals of their campaign.

Reddit Trending Takeover Method plant video
Reddit Trending Takeover Method plant video

Reddit didn’t create a promotional video for Trending Takeover (as Twitter did for its launch) but does share Method’s plant cleaning demo video to demonstrate the ad unit’s value.

They shared social proof from a satisfied brand

The Reddit team also includes a quotation from Method’s VP of Brands in its announcement, along with the aforementioned video with Hilton Carter. Chen offers a compelling endorsement of Reddit’s ad unit.

Reddit Trending Takeover social proof from Method's VP of Brands
Reddit Trending Takeover social proof from Method's VP of Brands
They presented solid performance data

Reddit appeals to data-loving performance marketers by citing Trending Takeover results, albeit without the third-party independent data Twitter provides for its Promoted Trend Spotlight.

Reddit states, “In aggregate, Beta partners saw an increase in surfaced conversations and a click-through rate two-times greater than the industry standard for social platforms.”

One more innovation we’d like to see

We support every effort publishers make to monetize their platforms in user-friendly ways, so we love when brands create innovative ad units — but we’d like to see it taken one step further to mitigate the risks of poor ad labeling.

Publishers can ensure their ad units are FTC-compliant by using clear and conspicuous ad disclosures, such as “promoted by” rather than simply “promoted.” Per the FTC’s native advertising guide:

Advertisers should not use terms such as “Promoted” or “Promoted Stories,” which in this context are at best ambiguous and potentially could mislead consumers that advertising content is endorsed by a publisher site.

Using an earlier example from the Reddit app, this Trending Takeover could be changed from “Promoted” to “Promoted by Method” to avoid potential legal headaches.

Reddit Trending Takeover ad and FTC compliance
Reddit Trending Takeover ad and FTC compliance

Whose ad product will trend next?

We at Ad.Product love to highlight new, innovative ad units released by the major ad platforms and by those in our community. If you’ve recently built a new native ad product or just want to share your thoughts on recent launches, we look forward to the discussion!

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Jane O'Hara

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