Reddit co-founder and chief executive Steve Huffman has finally come round to accepting the idea of advertising on the platform, in part because of how he has seen brands like L’Oréal using it.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions festival, he used the example of the beauty brand and its engagement with a Reddit group – or subreddit – called Makeup Addiction, to explain his altered stance: “It’s a very natural fit,” he noted.

“Instead of thinking of L’Oréal as an advertiser, [I started] thinking of L’Oréal as a company that employs people who love makeup so much that they work at L’Oréal. Makeup Addiction is a place for them to hang out,” he explained.

Reddit has introduced a self-serve ad platform and a smattering of audience targeting tools but rather than go down the same precision-targeting road as digital media rivals, it instead encourages brands to “align” around consumers’ values and passions.

And, crucially, users retain the final say on how their data is shared. (For more, read WARC’s report: Reddit’s mission to grow its ad business – without compromising user experience.)

“I very strongly believe that we can build a company that can recommend great content and great ads without violating people’s privacy,” he declared.

“If you want to target people who wear makeup, go to Makeup Addition – it’s very straightforward. Even a marketer can figure it out”.

Huffman believes that much of the debate about advertising and privacy is wrong-headed. “We know things about our users, they tell us things about themselves and we figure other things from the data,” he said.

“Our value is we are transparent. [We] give users transparent control, [we] let people opt out, let people reset their data. These are the things that we can target on and you don't have to be a part of it if you don’t want to.”

The onus is then on advertisers to address users in a meaningful way. “More than anything, users want relevant content, [and] they want relevant ads,” he said. “They also just want to know that the conversation they’re having is authentic, for the company they’re dealing with [to be] telling the truth.

“I actually just don’t think that’s a very high bar.”

Sourced from WARC