You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Reddit to Launch Mobile App for AMAs (Exclusive)

Reddit has made its long-awaited entry into the mobile app category with one devoted to its most popular attraction, the Ask Me Anything (AMA) interviews.

The Official Reddit AMA app is already available on iOs and is expected to arrive on Android later in the week.

The app simplifies AMAs to make them easier to read and ask questions in real time, not to mention browse other AMAs and be notified of trending interviews. Reddit aims to improve upon the Web-based version of Reddit’s AMAs, which has been criticized for lacking an intuitive user experience that could be more welcoming to uninitiated users.

The new product is perhaps the most significant indication this year of Reddit’s interest in broadening its user base and improving its monetization strategies, which have kept the company from turning a profit as its 10th birthday approaches next year.

“We want to make it easier for new users to join Reddit and experience all the awesome content,” said Ellen Pao, senior VP at Reddit who oversees the company’s mobile efforts. “That’s part of the overall goal of becoming a more mature company.”

But with 133 million unique monthly visitors as of August, Reddit is still very much a force with which to be reckoned, having doubled in unique users ever year since its 2005 launch. “We’re excited and happy to grow but we’ve never been super proactive about it, it’s always been done organically,” said Pao. “Now it’s time to be more proactive and grow.”

The site’s devotees have demonstrated a collective ability to take content viral through a system that allows users to “vote up” submissions, increasing their visibility. However, Reddit has a reputation for trafficking in less than advertiser-friendly materials, like the nude celebrity photo explosion that mushroomed on the site over the weekend.

While most of the 7,800 active subreddits on Reddit are the domain of hardcore Internet users, AMAs represent its most mainstream area, with 6.2 million followers. By essentially crowdsourcing the interviewing process to its users, Reddit has attracted AMA subjects as prominent as President Barack Obama to a who’s who of Hollywood luminaries. Upcoming AMAs include Denzel Washington.

The Reddit AMA app may be just the first of more apps to come from the company, though Pao said there’s no plans to try to redo what failed three years ago. “We’re not trying to be the be-all-end-all of every interaction users want to have on Reddit,” said Pao, who said she will continue to collaborate with third-party developers.

Reddit is in the unenviable position of having largely ceded the ground of primary app access to popular third-party alternatives including Alien Blue on iOs and BaconReader on Android. The site attempted to launch an official app that provided mobile entry to the entire site in 2011, only to abandon it months later when it failed to gain traction amid complaints of glitches.

Reddit was compelled to finally try again, albeit in more targeted fashion, because it could no longer ignore growth trends. In August, 40% of new users came from mobile, five times what it was in the same month three years ago. One-third of page views come from mobile web. How many more are coming in from third-party apps isn’t known.

“We’ve found in the last year or so a huge uptick in people accessing Reddit from the mobile web, and we want to give those folks a great experience,” said Pao.

There are no premium aspects to the app but it could help monetization by providing a forum for native advertising, which Reddit has experimented with successfully with marketers including Nissan, the Grammy Awards and the Economist. Native advertising won’t be placed within AMAs themselves but the app will provide exposure to these campaigns elsewhere on Reddit.

“The types of interaction we have between our communities and our advertisers are becoming more and more native,” she said. “You’ll see more and more people targeting native adds to the Reddit community.”

Reddit’s revenues, which the company does not disclose, are primarily from advertising, though recent diversification efforts have included a Gold subscription offering and a gift exchange program.

But the company has to be careful: As a similar social-news site Digg found out, a few wrong moves that ignore the core audience’s preferences in favor of monetization maneuvers can send even a very large user base scattering to rival sites.

Since Conde Nast parent company Advance Publications spun off Reddit nearly three years ago, the company has been stepping up efforts to get in the black. The staff has grown from 15 to 65, allowing for the resources required to develop the new app in house.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • The Outpost -- "One is the

    Electric Entertainment Launching OTT Channel Electric Now (EXCLUSIVE)

    U.S.-based producer and distributor Electric Entertainment is launching Electric Now, a linear OTT channel that will feature its top series and library content. The channel will have episodes of “The Outpost,” the fantasy-adventure series that has just had its third season greenlit by U.S. network The CW. The new season will head into production in [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Watch Signs Content Pact With France's M6, Unveils European Short-Form Slate

    Facebook Watch has inked a content pact with French channel M6 and unveiled a slate of short-form content from European digital publishers for the platform. The deal with M6 will see the French broadcaster place spinoff programming from some of its hit shows on Facebook Watch. M6 will run pre- and after-show clips, interviews, and [...]

  • Snow White

    What's Coming to Disney Plus Starting in November

    Disney unveiled the complete list of films to premiere on its streaming service Disney Plus via a lengthy Twitter thread Monday. With its powerhouse catalog including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic properties, the full magnitude of the Disney empire will be seen once the streaming service launches. Along with Disney originals previously announced [...]

  • Stock market

    Trading In Music's Futures: How to Cash In on the Industry's Gold Rush (Guest Column)

    The music industry is entering a time of financial prosperity thanks to the widespread use of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. According to a recent report by Musicwatch, 77% of all internet users in the U.S. stream music, while Goldman Sachs projects a revenue pot of $34 billion by 2030. Finally, the [...]

  • Grace Helbig

    Grace Helbig Hosting Facebook Watch Show 'Ladies First' About Empowered Women

    Longtime YouTube creator Grace Helbig has a new series — coming to Facebook Watch. In the unscripted eight-episode show “Ladies First with Grace Helbig,” set to premiere Tuesday, Oct. 22, the digital star sits down with a series of “empowered women” to learn about how they’re making a positive impact. Guests include actress-comedian Margaret Cho, [...]

  • Fortnite-Season-X-Out-of-Time

    'Fortnite' Goes Dark: A Masterful Marketing Stroke by Epic Games

    On Sunday, “Fortnite” — the most popular game on Earth right now — without warning, imploded into darkness. At around 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, a meteor in Season 10 of “Fortnite” that had been biding its time set off a cataclysmic chain reaction that sucked up everything on the the island and eventually [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content