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Reddit VP Discusses The Challenges And Opportunities Facing Digital Publishing

We spoke to Joel Meek, VP of Operations at Reddit

13Oct

Joel Meek has been VP of Operations at Reddit for over a year. In his role, Joel oversees Reddit’s Community, Trust & Safety, Finance, Media Partnership, and Business Development teams. Previously, he managed the Community and Partnership teams at Pinterest, supporting and growing the company’s communities and helping small- to mid-sized businesses advertise on the platform. Joel also worked on building the Sales and Support teams for Google Apps. 

Ahead of his presentation at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit this December 5-6 in San Francisco, we sat down with Joel to talk all things digital publishing.

What are the key challenges posed by having user-generated content?

We have over 40,000 active communities on Reddit and 240 million monthly users on the site. The key for us is connecting users to the communities that align with their interests, and we're focused on making this community discovery experience simple and easy.

How has the rise of social media impacted the way your content is discovered?

Reddit content is shared all across the web including other social media sites. We think that is a great way to introduce Reddit to new users, reactivate users who may not have visited recently, and reinforce Reddit to existing users. On every post, we give users the ability to share across number social media services. And we recently launched a new embed tool which allows publishers to embed and reference a post or comment coming from Reddit.

What SEO strategies are you implementing?

We recently built a team focused on SEO. We have built relationships with top search companies and are spending time making sure we are doing the fundamentals really well - proper crawling, tagging, real-time indexing, optimizing for mobile, and sitemaps. We also recently announced a partnership with Google to provide AMP support for Reddit content, so now load times from Google search to Reddit content is lightning fast.

How are you exploring the multi-media options available including video, AR, and VR?

For years, our users have used third-party image and video services to surface multi-media content on Reddit. That continues to be very important. In addition, we recently announced the ability to upload an image natively on Reddit via desktop or native mobile. We are exploring other native multi-media options as well as partnerships with third-parties. We know users want to post and consume these different content formats.

How are you monetizing your content and why have you pursued this strategy?

Our primary means for monetization is advertising. We chose advertising because we believe when done the right way, it can be a great experience for both brands and our community. The key to effective advertising on Reddit is finding the right audience and connecting in a direct, authentic way. When this happens, the Reddit community and brands have engaged in really cool and engaging conversations that deepen user relationships and overall brand affinity.

As mentioned, we have over 240 million users on more than 40,000 active communities spanning topics like gaming, movies, TV, technology, politics, and sports — so it's likely any given brand's existing or future customers are already on Reddit.

We have seen native advertising grow dramatically over the last few years - how do you see this progressing and what is your approach for the future?

We've invested a lot in native advertising on both desktop and mobile, and will continue to do so. We are seeing adoption of native ads increasing and see it as a key part of our advertising offering. Brands are coming to Reddit for the opportunity to engage with people in an authentic way — much like getting invited to a dinner table conversation, rather than using a megaphone on the sidewalk.

A great example of this was our campaign with Coca-Cola for the Super Bowl — the iconic brand invited users to share which Marvel superhero match-up they'd most like to see in a Big Game commercial with a writing prompt. This resulted in original ideas that garnered genuine excitement and high levels of engagement from users.

As the line continues to blur between content producers and distributers how are you navigating this atmosphere change?

Given that Reddit is UGC, our users are both big drivers of content production and distribution (via sharing offsite). That said, we also understand that the line is blurring with other companies in regards to production and distribution. We are a very open platform and are actively working with these partners to both bring their content to Reddit so users can discuss on Reddit as well work with these partners to distribute content coming from Reddit via their platforms.

How crucial is it for content producers to develop a mobile-first culture?

Mobile is becoming more and more the primary means of content consumption and production, so obviously thinking mobile first is key. That said, a lot of content production still happens on desktop so we at Reddit want to continue to make sure we provide tools that make content production easier there, too.

You can hear more from Joel, along with other leading digital publishing executives, at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in San Francisco this December 5-6. To see the full agenda, click here.

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