Reddit is planning to revamp its advertising business as part of the online discussion forum's ongoing efforts to turn its impressive user growth into more significant revenue.
Co-founder Alexis Ohanian told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that Reddit is introducing video ads after advertisers expressed interest in the format. "It made a lot of sense and we had a lot of advertisers asking us for it, so we built it," Ohanian told the Journal. The move comes despite the fact that Reddit does not already host video content on its site, and the company offered no specific plans to begin hosting user-generated videos in the future.
In addition, Reddit is also overhauling its self-serve ad platform, giving advertisers more placement options, including sponsored posts, banner ads, mobile-specific ads, and the new video ads. What's more, the company will also soon start inserting advertisements into the website's feeds, intermingled with individual posts, along with their current positioning at the top of each page.
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Reddit, which calls itself "the front page of the internet," boasts roughly 300 million monthly active users. Founded in 2005, the company sold a year later to Condé Nast, which still holds a stake in Reddit after spinning off the company in 2011. Since the spin-off, Reddit has raised roughly $50 million and the company was valued at $500 million as of last year. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Reddit was looking for additional funding in the neighborhood of roughly $150 million, which would value the company at $1.7 billion.
But, Ohanian told the Journal that Reddit does not want to rely too much on fundraising and it is more prudent to "grow your own destiny." Last year, Ohanian and his fellow Reddit co-founder, CEO Steve Huffman, told Fortune about the company's plans to grow its advertising revenue, including not only offering space to big brands but also helping those clients tailor their message for the many highly-specific audiences that congregate on the site's more than 1 million user-generated communities known as subreddits.
Of course, Reddit may also want to tread carefully while adding more advertising to a site where the users have a history of reacting negatively to changes that could threaten the message board's status as a supposed haven for free expression. In the past, Reddit users have complained (and some have even flocked away from the site) about issues such as perceived censorship by Reddit moderators, while others were concerned recently when the site considered no longer giving subreddit operators the ability to customize their pages. And then there are the users who contend that Reddit is a community, not a business—they're not going to like this move one bit.
CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to show that, ultimately, Reddit allowed subreddit operators to keep using customization tools. Also, Reddit now claims 300 million monthly active users.