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Data suggests Reddit protests negatively affected traffic, advertiser engagement

Reddit said the protests didn't have any significant impact, but data suggests that's not entirely accurate.

Published onJune 28, 2023

Reddit stock photo 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Data suggests the Reddit protests hurt the site’s traffic and advertiser engagement.
  • During the peak of the protests, Redditors spent about 16% less time on the platform than average.
  • Reddit said the protests hadn’t had a significant impact on revenue, but these numbers appear to contradict that.

From June 12 through the end of June 13, Reddit saw one of the most significant protests in its 18-year history. That period saw thousands of high-profile subreddits “go dark” — cease all user activity — in an effort to protest changes Reddit is making related to access to its data APIs, third-party applications, and moderation tools. We have a full rundown on the Reddit protests if you need a refresher.

During the height of the protests, a leaked memo from Steve Huffman — a Reddit co-founder and its current CEO — claimed that the protests had had no significant revenue impact on the platform. However, data (via TechCrunch) suggests that that isn’t a wholly accurate statement.

According to Similarweb, a web traffic analysis firm, Reddit’s daily traffic dropped by about 7% during the protests. Additionally, the time Redditors spent on the platform declined by about 16%. The most interesting statistic, though, is that visits to Reddit’s ad portal — — decreased by about 20% during the period of June 13 to June 23.

In other words, traffic to the site dropped by millions, Redditors spent far less time on the site than usual, and the primary portal for advertisers saw a considerable reduction in engagement. Of course, we don’t have any hard numbers about how these changes could have affected revenue for the site, but it’s highly likely they had a significant effect, despite what Huffman claims.

Regardless, this data heavily suggests that the Reddit protests worked. Redditors banded together to protest the site’s changes, and that protest had a substantial impact on traffic and engagement.

However, Similarweb’s data also shows that traffic and engagement numbers crept back up to normal levels after the initial 48-hour protest period. Although some subreddits stayed dark — some are even still dark now — the ongoing protests don’t appear to be having as much of an effect as we saw on June 13 and June 14.

The changes Reddit is pushing out will take effect on July 1, 2023. After that date, several popular third-party apps will stop functioning, including RIF, Apollo, Sync, and more.

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