Discord Introduces Ads After Years of Resistance

Discord Introduces Ads After Years of Resistance

Published: April 01, 2024

Discord, the popular communication platform known for its ad-free experience, has announced its decision to introduce ads “in the coming week.”

The surprising move comes after nearly a decade of staunchly avoiding ads on its platform.

This significant departure from its longstanding policy since its launch in 2015 aims to boost revenue, as reported first by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

A History of Ad Avoidance

Despite industry trends favoring ad-driven revenue models, Discord has maintained its ad-free stance, earning a reputation for prioritizing user satisfaction above all else, setting it apart from most social media platforms.

“We believe that people's data is their data and that people should feel comfortable and safe to have conversations, and that their data is not going to be used against them in any way that is improper,” Discord CEO Jason Citron said in an interview with NPR in 2021.

Discord has been relying on its Nitro subscription service as a key revenue driver, with prices varying between $2.99 and $9.99 per month.

After experimenting with other revenue streams over the years, like in-app purchases of makeup for profile photos and the acquisition of the teen social media app Gas, the company has decided it is wiser to incorporate ads into its platform.

Strategic Implementation of Ads

Although Discord will begin rolling out ads, it's still prioritizing user experience and will only display ads from video game companies, tailored to users' gaming preferences, age, and location.

These ads will offer rewards for completing in-game tasks, enhancing user engagement while maintaining relevance to Discord's gaming-centric community, according to details revealed by Peter Sellis, Discord’s senior vice president of product.

Positioned discreetly in the bottom left corner of the screen, users will also have the option to disable these ads in their settings, providing them with a level of control over what ads they see.

Some negative reactions can already be seen on social media as news of Discord’s latest ad strategy starts to spread.

“[Discord] has famously promoted itself as committed to being ad-free, so this step-change could impact user trust and potentially have them looking for alternative platforms,” said Meghana Dhar, a former Instagram and Snapchat executive.

With a user base exceeding 200 million monthly active users (MAU), Discord's careful execution of this shift from an ad-free model to an ad-inclusive approach will be crucial in preserving user trust and engagement.

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