Reddit is known as a haven for niche, organic communities and largely unfiltered internet chatter, but it hasn’t always been the most welcoming place for all underrepresented groups. While Reddit has made progress in recent years, its acquisition of Dubsmash signals a real commitment to working with diverse communities. That could persuade more marketers to invest their ad dollars with the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.”
In announcing the company’s purchase of the TikTok-like app, Reddit reserved significant real estate to boast about Dubsmash’s racially diverse user base and that the “community-focused platforms can coexist and grow as we learn from each other.”
While Reddit hasn’t broken out diversity figures for its user base, and only recently revealed it had 52 million daily active users, the company boasted about Dubsmash’s user demographics in its announcement. “About 25% of all Black teens in the U.S. are on Dubsmash, and females represent 70% of users,” the company said. Reddit, by contrast, is only 43% female.
In Reddit’s early years, it did little to stem the growth of hateful, conspiratorial and violent subreddits. And while it gradually cleaned up its forums—progress that tracked with the growth of advertising on the platform—tensions bubbled up in June when more than 200 subreddits called on management to root out hate speech and racism. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman responded later that month by explicitly banning hate speech in Reddit’s site-wide rules for the first time.
Alyssa Stevens, director of public relations and social media at independent agency Connelly Partners, sees Dubsmash’s audience as one of its key differentiators. “We could see brands begin to shift at least a portion of their marketing dollars to work with creators on Dubsmash in order to both reach and work with a more diverse group of people,” she said.
Jason Pope, svp of biddable media at Havas, said that not only does the Dubsmash acquisition make business sense but new commitments to diverse users could help right some of the wrongs in Reddit’s ledger and give advertisers more confidence in the platform. “The acquisition … demonstrates their commitment to correcting some of their past challenges and championing a more diverse community,” especially among the heavily represented Black and Latinx demographics, he said.
Not only will Reddit try and grow Dubsmash as a standalone app, its video creation tools will be integrated into Reddit, “which will empower Reddit’s own creators to express themselves in original and authentic ways that are endemic to our communities,” the company said.
Reddit has some experience with video, introducing native video posts and ads in 2017 and a unique livestreaming platform called Reddit Public Access Network (RPAN) in 2019.
In the social media wars, Reddit has always been a bit of an outsider. It’s a tad messy, more than a bit crass, and its interface harkens back to an earlier, text-dominated era in social networking. It’s perhaps the antithesis of TikTok—the success of which every social media platform is chasing—which gives users sleek, algorithmically personalized feeds of short-form videos tailored to their conscious or subconscious interests.
Reddit made more than $100 million in ad revenue in 2019 and expects that number to jump 70% in 2020, COO Jen Wong recently told The Wall Street Journal. In recent years, Reddit has strengthened its pitch to advertisers, ironing out its brand safety issues and creating a more measurable and palatable place for brands.
Dubsmash doesn’t currently have in-feed ads, a Reddit spokesperson confirmed, but the app has previously allowed brands to sponsor topic-themed channels in the app. It also recently introduced a Cameo-like feature called Shoutouts through which users can pay for video mentions from celebrities or top creators on the app, but the spokesperson said Dubsmash doesn’t currently take a cut as this feature is still in beta.