My reddit ad (above) has yielded the highest ROI (by far) compared to the other ad platforms I've tried, which includes Adwords, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Myspace, and StumbleUpon. Of course your mileage will vary depending on your ad, product, target market, etc., but my basic message to you is you shouldn't overlook reddit self-serve advertising.
My ad ran for 13 days, from 3/7 to 3/20. It cost $650, and I spent $50 per day. In total it had 1,288,378 impressions (282,732 uniques) and yielded 20,700 clicks (18,420 uniques).
That's a CTR of 1.61%, or 6.49% per unique redditor. This CTR works out to a CPC of 3.14 cents, or 3.53 cents per unique visitor, and a CPM of $1.98, or $2.30 for uniques.
This is actually my second reddit ad. The first one looked exactly the same and was run during their beta period back in November. The first day that one came out it had a unique CTR of 13%! This rate eventually came down to about the same unique CTR% as the second ad.
Here were my takeaways from the whole experience:
- Redditors actually try out your site. 3c per unique visitor is pretty good in and of itself, but it's all worthless unless they actually try out your site. For example, you can get 5c unique visitors from StumbleUpon (presumably in a similar demographic), but StumbleUpon visitors never would try out my sites. Reddit visitors did try out Duck Duck Go.
- Redditors actually comment on your site. A unique feature of reddit ads is that redditors can comment on your ad on reddit. You can turn this off if you want, but I don't recommend it. Here's why. That is my ad's comment thread, which has 656 comments! (About half are from me though.) On this thread is immensely useful feedback. I fixed bugs, got feature requests, got first impressions, etc., and perhaps most importantly, was able to engage with my users in almost real time.
- I think it helped my other Reddit submissions. At the suggestion of one of my ad's comments, I made a Ask Me Anything submission. At another suggestion, I finally pulled the trigger on no longer storing IP addresses, which I submitted to reddit here. This last submission went to the top of the technology sub-reddit and made it to the reddit front page as well, to somewhere around #5.
These two posts yielded more traffic than my entire ad, and I think they did so in large part because of the ad. My hunch is people recognized the site and were more likely to vote it up as a result. Two concrete examples.
First, I doubt the privacy submission would have made it to the front page if not for the ad because doing so requires a certain upvote velocity that you don't usually get when people aren't familiar with you.
Second, the other day @kn0thing submitted my cuil parody to reddit. On its' comment thread are two comments from redditors praising the search engine. People read these types of comments and take them seriously, and they wouldn't happen without converting reddit users into Duck Duck Go users beforehand.
- CPM and CPC varies widely by day. As you can see from these graphs, some days were very different than others. This has to do with how reddit sells advertising. They split up the pool based on how many $ people bid for that day. So if you get a bigger piece of the pie that day, you'll get better CPM. My takeaway is to run the ad over a longer period. You can always stop it if you're getting diminishing returns.
- My ad did better than others. You can tell from these graphs that my CPC was less than the average by a lot because my CPM is during the high Mar period (higher than average) but my CPC is still way less than average. I think the reason for this is two-fold.
First, a search engine ad is a good fit for reddit ads in general. It has broad market appeal and redditters in general like trying out new technology.
Second, I think the ad is particularly well structured. The circular duck icon draws your attention, is contrasting to site colors, and sticks out because it is a circle (as most images are square). I believe the title also has appeal.
- People are still mentioning the ad to me. I've received a bunch of regular site feedback (through my feedback system) where people mentioned they discovered Duck Duck Go via the reddit ad. Also, at least two people I've initiated conversations with told me they've been using the search engine after seeing the reddit ad. These types of conversations have not happened with any other ads I've placed.
Finally, I want to be clear that even without the successes of my follow-on reddit submissions, I still believe reddit ads have had the highest ROI (and still by far) for Duck Duck Go.
Well, that's it :). In short, consider trying reddit self-serve advertising. You can test for as little as $20.