Tech giants have been tweaking their advertising policies ahead of the 2020 election, with Twitter banning political ads altogether. Reddit, on the contrary, has chosen a different approach that combines increased transparency and gives people a way to interact with political ads.
If you go by the last official count, Reddit has over 430 million monthly active users. Given the controversy around raising money from Chinese investors and the looming 2020 election, the company has been trying to put that cash infusion to good use.
At this point, Reddit users aren’t that valuable for advertisers, with the average revenue per Redditor being 30 times smaller than what Twitter makes from its users. For this reason, the company has launched a new subreddit called r/RedditPoliticalAds to keep track of political advertising on the platform.
The new subreddit will list all advertisers along with campaigns dating back to January 1, 2019, and information about their reach, targeting, impressions, total spending on a per-campaign basis.
“We plan to consistently update this subreddit as new political ads run on Reddit, so we can provide transparency into our political advertisers and the conversations their ad(s) inspire,” the company said.
The move is accompanied by a policy change, which now requires political advertisers to work directly with the company’s sales team, as well as leave comments open on any given campaign for at least 24 hours. The latter decision is tied to Reddit’s effort to improve the overall quality of the conversation. Still, it’s worth noting that advertisers will be able to moderate comments, which could leave the door open for silencing public dissent.
Reddit says each political advertising campaign will be subject to manual review before it goes live, and advertisers will have to send documents to verify their identity. Misleading ads are banned altogether, and the company only accepts “political advertisements within the United States, at the federal level.”
Vice president and general counsel Ben Lee told Politico during an interview that the move is “basically about two things that are pretty important to us: One is encouraging conversation around political ads and the second is transparency.” He also believes that rejecting all political ads doesn’t sound like the right approach.
Meanwhile, Twitter remains the only social giant to have banned all political advertising from its platform. Others like Google and Snap have chosen to restrict microtargeting and reject ads that don’t measure up to high standards of integrity. Facebook continues to believe that all would-be leaders should have a voice regardless of what they shout on its platform, although you can choose to see fewer political ads in your news feed.