Donald Trump's campaign appears to be paying to promote his campaign on Reddit, where he has a fervent fanbase.
The ads are "promoted posts," which are linkouts to the Trump campaign's donation page paired with link text such as "I am counting on your help to defeat Hillary Clinton and her cronies. Let's Make America Great Again!" The posts are paid for by the Reddit account "the-realDonaldTrump" that Trump used for his official Ask Me Anything on last month. The Trump campaign and Reddit did not immediately return my request for comment, but the use of an official, confirmed Trump account suggests that the ads are coming directly from his campaign.
Here are screenshots of the ads I took:
Trump's ads are showing up on the Hillary Clinton subreddit (this is while I was logged in).
The actual comment threads have been taken over by Trump supporters.
The ads are showing up on the front page.
As well as on the Hillary Clinton subreddit even when not logged in.
Trump ads are also showing up regularly on the politics subreddit.
Over the course of about a half hour, I saw four different ads on a variety of subreddits. I initially saw one on the r/the_donald, which is Reddit's unofficial Donald Trump headquarters. I also saw one on my personal front page. I then logged out of my account, opened up an incognito window, and saw Trump ads on the Hillary Clinton subreddit (nice), the politics subreddit, and, after enough refreshes, the food subreddit. I was able to reliably see Trump ads on politically focused and pro-Trump subreddits (which makes sense) but was much less likely to see them on unrelated subreddits, suggesting that the ad campaign is a targeted one.
Trump has been slow to advertise anywhere, really. And it's not clear he needs to. His effect on Reddit has been kind of like his effect everywhere else—people are talking about him already. Many of the site's top posts for the past eight months or so have been Trump-related, and unlike on social and mainstream media, much of the attention has been pro-Trump. The moderators of r/the_donald learned how to game Reddit's algorithm, leading to a disproportionately large amount of pro-Trump posts making the site's r/all section, which is a list of the top posts across the entire site.
The move to advertise on Reddit shows that there's at least a perceived increase in the political importance of the platform; earlier this year, the Pro-Hillary Clinton PAC Correct the Record spent $1 million to "correct" Reddit and Facebook commenters.
Trump is slowly ramping up his advertising presence everywhere as the election approaches—his campaign is expected to run its first television ads of the general election starting Friday. Reddit is a notoriously hard-to-please network for advertisers: Many of the site's tech-savvy users use adblocking software, and most Reddit ads allow users to comment on them, which can quickly backfire for the advertiser. So far, the comments on Trump's ads are generally pro-Trump, likely because they appear to be primarily targeted at the_donald for now.