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Discord’s Shift Towards Sponsored In-App Ads

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 2, 2024
Discord's Shift Towards Sponsored In-App Ads

Discord is taking a significant turn away from its longstanding advertising policy. Historically celebrated for its commitment to avoiding the typical online advertising models that many of its peers employ, Discord is poised to introduce in-app advertising in the coming week, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This move represents a departure from the philosophy articulated by CEO Jason Citron in 2021, who emphasized the company’s focus on developing desirable products over-relying on intrusive advertising.

A New Era for Discord

The forthcoming advertising strategy, dubbed “Sponsored Quests,” is a collaboration with video game manufacturers, aiming to integrate promotions seamlessly into the gaming experience.

These quests will incentivize users with in-game or in-platform rewards for completing specific challenges while engaging with their friends and viewers on Discord.

This model, which builds on the success of a similar promotion for Fortnite players in May last year, seeks to offer a less intrusive advertising experience by rewarding user participation with themed cosmetics and other bonuses.

User Backlash: A Potential Hurdle

Despite the intended non-intrusive nature of Sponsored Quests, the announcement has been met with skepticism and concern from some quarters.

Critics, such as technology adviser and investor Meghana Dhar, argue that this pivot towards paid promotions could undermine the trust and loyalty of Discord’s user base. Dhar suggests that the shift from a staunchly ad-free platform to one embracing advertising could drive users towards alternative platforms, seeking the ad-free experience Discord once offered.

In response to potential user backlash, Discord has assured that users will have the option to disable these promotions via their Settings, a degree of control not typically afforded by other platforms. However, it remains unclear whether this option will be exclusively available to Nitro subscribers or all users.

A Closer Look at Sponsored Quests

The introduction of Sponsored Quests coincides with Discord’s broader strategy to enhance its gaming-related and Nitro subscription revenue streams.

This advertising model aims to monetize the platform’s extensive user engagement without resorting to the traditional, more invasive advertising tactics that Discord has previously refrained from.

Furthermore, Discord’s plans to expand its team with the addition of 12 sales team members to support the new advertising initiative highlight the company’s investment in this strategy. However, this expansion is juxtaposed with the company’s recent decision to lay off 17 percent of its workforce earlier this year, adding a layer of complexity to the narrative surrounding Discord’s evolving business model.

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Featured Image courtesy of DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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