As it continues to evolve its platform, in the hopes of attracting more ad dollars, Reddit has announced some changes to its ad control settings, including the removal of the option for users to opt out of personalized ads in the app.
That’s the main change, with Reddit set to stop users from avoiding targeted ads based on their activity, except in certain regions.
As per Reddit:
“Reddit requires very little personal information, and we like it that way. Our advertisers instead rely on on-platform activity - what communities you join, leave, upvotes, downvotes, and other signals - to get an idea of what you might be interested in.”
As such, Reddit wants to be able to provide that information to ad partners, so users will now have to submit such as part of the usage agreement.
Reddit says that the vast majority of users will see no change to their ads on the platform as a result of this update, and that users who’ve previously opted out of sharing on-platform activity won’t see more ads. It’ll simply enable more customized ad targeting, based on your activity, which should mean that more relevant ads are displayed in your Reddit feed.
Though I can imagine that Redditors will be less than happy about the change.
Reddit has only recently come to the end of long-running protest action on the site as a result of its decision to increase the price of its API access, with the main point of contention among user groups being that the change will price some third-party Reddit reader apps out of the market, several of which had enabled them to avoid ads entirely within their Reddit experience.
Which, obviously, is one of the key reasons why Reddit pushed ahead with the update. But the fact that it’s now also removing the option to opt out of ad personalization will sprinkle salt into the wounds of those Redditors who are still upset about the API change.
But Reddit wants to make more money, and build its business. Reports have suggested that it’s eyeing an IPO at some stage in the near future, so it needs to build its business process, in order to maximize its value. Higher API prices, and greater ad customization, are both key steps in this process, but the commercialization of Reddit looks set to cause more angst before the platform can get to the next stage.
Though it is also giving something back.
Reddit’s also adding the capacity to opt out of specific ad categories, which will enable users to see “fewer” ads in certain topic areas.
As you can see, the option will enable Redditors to see less ads related to alcohol, dating, gambling, pregnancy and parenting, and weight Loss. So you will still have some way to limit unwanted ad exposure. Sort of.
Reddit says that users can activate the new ad settings in the “Safety and Privacy” section of their user settings.
Finally, Reddit’s also updating its ad control descriptions, in order to make them “more clear and consistent”.
The changes make sense, in the broader scheme of Reddit transitioning into more of a business, with a view to the next stage of the company’s development. But again, they’re unlikely to be well-received by Reddit users, many of whom are opposed to ads, and will look to combat the commercialization of the app, which has long been the home of many niche communities.
Will the negatives outweigh the positives, or is this a necessary step for Reddit to build its business?
Reddit says that its ad control changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks, and that users can visit their Safety & Privacy Settings to check out the updated settings.