Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Reddit ad chief Harold Klaje on the power of community and the untapped internet

Brands can access the “untapped internet” by leaning into community advertising, according to Reddit’s advertising chief Harold Klaje.

He says that community advertising should always have been part of a marketer’s armoury but that changes in consumer behaviour following the pandemic mean that it is more important than ever.

In a wide-ranging interview, Klaje, EVP and President, Global Advertising, talks to New Digital Age about community, shared passions, trust and advertiser opportunity at the fast-growing platform.

He speaks of how Reddit differs from the likes of Facebook because it is a “place where people come to be hyper-informed by communities they trust, which drives real action”. Fifteen years after launching it has some 100,000+ communities.

In the UK, 15% of Reddit users are not on Facebook, 38% are not on Instagram and 37% are not on Twitter – “in this sense, Reddit represents the untapped internet,” he adds.

“I sometimes hear the misunderstanding that Reddit users don’t like ads, which is simply not true. We know that Reddit users welcome brands to engage with them on the platform, with around 69% respecting when brands make an effort to participate.

“Our advertising business has grown exponentially in the last five years as we’ve continued to build out our offering. In the UK we work with Samsung, Netflix, Pringles and Playstation to name a few.”

He talks of a growing trend of a shift towards “we” centric conversations rather than “me” centric social sharing. The number of people sharing details of their personal life through traditional social media declined by 35% over the preceding five years, according to a survey it conducted with Global Web Index.

“This proves out what we’ve long known to be true, that consumer behaviour online is changing. We’re not seeing feeds dominated by perfectly curated content the way we were a few years ago. Instead, what we are seeing is an increased desire for authentic, human connection and this is where our online communities come into play.”

The pandemic has only accelerated this trend, he concludes. “I think we will also continue to see the power of community demonstrated on a more mainstream level, more people seeing what we see every day: that amazing things can happen when people come together around something they are passionate about.”

Klaje joined Reddit’s executive team in May last year tasked with setting the strategy and operational direction of its global advertising sales business. He joined from Pinterest, where he served as Global Head of Growth, and previously spent almost a decade in leadership roles at Google.

The interview is published in full tomorrow.

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