Reddit's Pick for New Ad Leader Shows the Site Is Getting Serious About Mobile

Hires Zubair Jandali away from Google

Reddit, 'The Front Page of the Internet,' hired Zubair Jandali as vp of ad sales.

Reddit's ad team has a new leader as the "Front Page of the Internet" forges ahead with a mobile and marketing push. The company hired Zubair Jandali from Google, who started this month as Reddit's first vp of sales.

Jandali had been with Google since 2009 when the company bought ad network AdMob, where he also worked. His hiring is yet another sign Reddit is serious about developing a mobile advertising presence.

Reddit recently bought Alien Blue, the app that lets readers access Reddit on mobile, to hone a more sophisticated approach to smartphones and tablets. Alien Blue is Reddit's first in-house app. Now, it has a vp of sales with experience in mobile advertising to go along with the product. "Mobile is definitely one big area of investment for the company, so my background certainly plays into that," Jandali said in a phone interview this week.

Reddit offers brands two ways to advertise on its site, which reaches 150 million people a month: banners and sponsored headlines. Headlines are the items that users and brands post to Reddit, and users can vote up or down on whether they like them. The user-submitted headlines that accumulate the most positive votes rise to a higher position on the page, but brands pay for top placement.

There are over 8,000 "active" user-generated groups on the site called subreddits dedicated to different categories; they can attract fans of brands, movies, science fiction or just about any interest you can imagine. Advertisers can target a subreddit or buy ads on the front page of the site, which gets 50 million views a day, Jandali said. For instance, on Wednesday TBS promoted a headline on at the top of the page for the show King of the Nerds.

Jandali said visitors who click on sponsored headlines can spend up to five minutes in the posts.

Reddit can be a tough crowd for brands, however, and users are known for calling out posts that smack of too much marketing. "Helping advertisers and brands engage in the right way is our chief challenge," he said. Original ideas, sparking conversation and responding to users are all keys to effective marketing there, he added.

The sponsored headlines, a native ad format, are meant to blend naturally within Reddit, while also being marked as promotions.

"I've been a longtime lurker on the site myself," Jandali said, referring to himself in Reddit-speak for a visitor who just surfs the site but doesn't comment much. "As a user I've found the richest conversations on the Internet are happening there, and I'm intrigued by the prospect of helping build out the company."

Jandali reports to CEO Ellen Pao, who took the role after a shake-up late last year that saw the exit of the former CEO and the return of co-founder Alexis Ohanian to board chairman. The ad sales teams are based in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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