Why Does Social Media Try to Sell Me Cheap Lingerie?

Chai Steeves
3 min readJul 16, 2021

Social Media Ads That Customize to Your Version of Luxury — A Billion Dollar Idea

Photo by dusan jovic on Unsplash

I was so excited last weekend. Just as we were getting ready to leave for the cottage, a courier package arrived. It was the matching gold bikinis I had ordered the week before, hoping they would arrive in time for the cottage trip with our sexy friends. Fast forward two hours — drink in hand, on the dock, with matching gold bikinis ready to be modelled. Nope. They looked like a 4 year old had hand-cut a plastic bag in to a shape that vaguely resembled a bikini. They were awful. So cheap and tacky looking.

But it spawned a great idea, about how social media could do a better job at targeting us to items we really would appreciate. I am, I think, one of those rare people who isn’t too worried about social media apps collecting data on us and using that to targets ads to us. I can fully accept that I am likely being very naive about all the nefarious things this data can be used for, but I kind of like targeted ads. I hate shopping, so they are like a little helping hand to point me in the right direction.

The problem with these ads, however, is that — despite all the data being collected — they don’t target very well.

Two examples to illustrate my point. First, the gold bikinis. I’ve bought a lot of lingerie and swimwear online. I’m solidly ‘Victoria Secrets’-level of quality. I don’t buy $400 Parisian custom-made, but I also don’t buy lingerie at Walmart. So, the gold bikinis. If you had my buying history, you would know I would not want those cheap, shoddy bikinis. Of course, it’s my fault for buying them, but I’m kind of bitter about Facebook thinking I would want them. It’s like when an old friends sets you up on a date with someone who is super unattractive or that you are not at all compatible with. It’s, like, “I thought you knew me better than that; tear.”.

Example two — I get targeted ads, at least four times a week, from this one online wine distributor. They distribute the very best collectors-vintage wines — a $1,500 Bordeau .. only 3 cases left; rare growers champagne, reserved for you for $800. What in my purchasing history would make them think I am buying $1,500 bottles of wine. I appreciate their vote of confidence in my upward mobility, but that’s just way out of my league — unless Medium wants to up their monthly bonuses to $1,500 hint, hint, lol.

So the billion dollar idea. Get better at targeting ads. Don’t simply anticipate the type of product I will like. Anticipate the level of quality I would expect. With all the data the social media companies have access to, I think they could get on board with this. I realize this is not really a briliiant idea — it’s mostly just saying ‘please do the job you are trying to, but do it better’. But these are trillion dollar companies — this can’t be that hard.

And next time I order matching gold bikinis for a cottage weekend, I was Dom Perignon, not Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Chai Steeves

eclectic guy - likes sexuality, politics, business, relationships, celebrity trivia...