Should you make reddit your new dating app?

Ginny Hogan
Nov 1, 2014 · 8 min read

Ask Me Anything (as long as you’re asking me out).

This is the season finale. I was sniffing around for ways to go out with a bang, and reddit became an unlikely hero. I’m not a big reddit user myself, and I hadn’t originally thought of them. My brother is a huge reddit fan though (weird, right? Didn’t they prove like 60 years ago that taste in websites was genetic?). Nonetheless, reddit actually turned out to be kind of perfect because I really was looking for a community of peculiar, devoted internet-enthusiasts. I started by trying to run ads. These were the targeting options:

Reddit didn’t let me get as targeted as Facebook had; still, being able to show ads based on interest and location seemed pretty good to me. I knew immediately that I wanted to target technology buffs and gamers. I first targeted tech buffs because every time I date a gamer, I end up single after we break up. It’s a roller coaster, and I needed some validation and positive reinforcement before I went down that rabbit hole again. I wasn’t able to target based on age or gender which was kind of a bummer, especially because I’d guess that the gamers and technology buffs on reddit are highly unlikely to fit into my target demographic. It was money down the drain.

By far my favorite, favorite, favorite discovery about advertising on reddit was that the technology buffs were more expensive than the gamers. In the context of me running dating ads, I did really appreciate that the audiences were priced accordingly. I, too, would probably pay more for a technology buff (no offense, gamers. I’ve just been hurt before).

technology buffs were $1/1000 impressions
gamers were $.75/1000 impressions #math

I dug a little deeper into reddit’s pricing, and it turned out that every other category cost $.75/1000 impressions except technology buffs, who were more expensive; this, while still valuable, didn’t delight me quite as much as the thought that gamers might be cheaper. I haven’t really been able to give anyone any concrete advice about how to use online advertising to find dates (except maybe don’t) in any of my blog posts, but I now acquired one kernel of wisdom to share with my loyal fans:

If you’re trying to save money, don’t date someone who knows a lot about technology. They’re more expensive.

Boom. There it is. Life Lessons by Ginny. It seems counterintuitive because sometimes you hear about how people who work in technology have a lot of money or make a lot of money or sell their companies for billions of dollars blah blah blah, but you can’t argue with reddit ad pricing. Seriously, not worth the extra .025 cents/impression.

Like Google Search, the ad itself was mostly text, although I was allowed a small thumbnail. This was constraining; fortunately, I learned from my failed Google campaign that there’s no point in being cryptic when you have small or no photos and a character limit (ha.ha.ha. the one time I successfully play “hard to get.” Go ahead, make the joke. You’re all thinking it), so instead I went with this one:

As you can see, there wasn’t enough space in the image for my email address and my face; I had to double up. Who needs a forehead anyway?

Actually, I tried landing clickers on Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, and Medium, but they all got rejected. They didn’t say why, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that dating ads aren’t allowed, and ads are manually approved.

Reddit ended up rejecting both these links after accepting the first one. You guys see the evidence above; it very clearly says “accepted sponsored link” on the green one. If reddit is going to accept me and then reject me, I might as well just cut out the middle man and just make reddit my new boyfriend already (too real for this blog?). It was ok because I didn’t actually want to spend $30 on reddit ads, but I was now in a bind because I had already written half this blog post, and I couldn’t let 9.5 good minutes go to waste! Fortunately, my brother (remember, the one with the reddit gene) came to my rescue by suggesting that I use AskReddit. Nice save, Joe!

Unfortunately, the question I posted violates the AskReddit policies, so I didn’t have high hopes for it staying up. Still, a little bit of conversation ensued before it got shut down.

Reddit removed the links to my social accounts, so I didn’t expect anyone else to respond. I didn’t want to give up on reddit just yet; I had a really good feeling about the website as a whole. I crossed my fingers and toes, buckled up, and gave it one last shot: I did an AMA. And you just won’t believe what happened.

Inappropriate, Grilled_Cheesy. I’m a lady.

And there it was: the sound of victory. It happened. It finally worked. Three months, five blog posts, four YouTube videos, eight guys on Tinder who didn’t have cars, too many cancelled Uber rides, not enough likes on Facebook (seriously, if you’ve read this far down the post, go back to my Facebook page after and like the status), and countless hours of heartache later, I have successfully gone where no woman has gone before: I’ve used the internet to get someone to ask me on a date. My heart is fluttering. I’m as giddy as a fourth grader. I can’t stop doodling his name!

I’m seeing the future for me and xxred_baronxx. I’m seeing picket fences and puppies and driving a van to pick up the litle ones.

This time, for the first time, I think we can chalk it up to a success. Should you make reddit your new dating app? As they say on American Idol, it’s a yes from me.

Conclusion

So, we’ve come to the end again. I’m going to take a step back from reddit and look at the bigger picture. It may seem like the only purpose of this blog is to get dates by running ads online, but I assure you that after about 1 day of running ads on Facebook, I lost all real hope of finding a boyfriend. I mean, finding a boyfriend through dating ads. You see, I had planned the end from the beginning; it’s my elder wand. Spoiler alert- Harry lives!!

Anyway, there’s something a little bit bigger going on here. We’re all aware of the vast amount of data companies like Facebook and Google have about each and every one of us, but it’s not always clear what we’re getting out of it. Not sure if you’ve looked at your sponsored pages lately, but I’m willing to bet that if you’re single, you’d rather Facebook showed you a potential boyfriend than an ad for stuff single girls want, like happy hour specials and yogalates groupons. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure if Facebook wanted to, they have the NLP and information retrieval capabilities to enable a user to type into that fancy-shmancy Graph Search bar something along the lines of:

* footnotes at bottom.

and return hundreds and hundreds of potential matches. Facebook could even filter for the ones who would like me too! The order of magnitude might change, but I’m confident that it would still be nonzero (and one is all you need anyway). I’m imagining a feature that looks something like this:

I know there are more like him out there. I’m a believer!

Mark, feel free to just go ahead and run with the spec I’ve laid out if you like it. I promise not to sue. It’s all yours; happy belated birthday!

Of course, dating apps that currently plug into Facebook are trying to make use of this enormous amount of data, but the API doesn’t give you everything, and no single dating app has a critical mass of users. Furthermore, they only use select pieces of information; in fact, some rely only on your friend list. This happens in part because they don’t have the wiggle room to show you someone very targeted. Google and Facebook have far more users and data than any individual dating app, but they use exactly none of it to get you laid. I do genuinely believe if we took the combined brain power, computing power, and data of Facebook and Google, and we focused it all at once, we could find me a boyfriend in a mere matter of months. This, my friends, begs the question I’ve been grappling with all along, the reason I ran all these dating ads and started this blog, the message I hope I’ve touched upon since we commenced. If Internet giants can find me a boyfriend countably infinitely faster than any smaller dating app and uncountably infinitely faster than I ever could myself, then what we need to ask is:

Why don’t they?

If you’d like to contact the author of this post, please email vh2191@columbia.edu

If you’re Zach Braff, and you’d like to see my tattoo, please email me—just kidding!!! That was a joke!! I don’t even have a tattoo!! But seriously, Zach, you can also email me at vh2191@columbia.edu. Odds are good that I’ll respond.

*In other news, ZBunny, I recently read in an interview that you didn’t want to date ‘super famous’ girls anymore (in response to a question about your alleged romance with T.Swift). I’d like to remind you that I’m still months away from having my blog take off and achieving Taylor-Swift-circa-release-of-1989 levels of fame, so we have a window, but we have to act fast. Also, I have no musical ability ergo I will not write a song about you (actually, let’s be real, I already have, but it’s unlikely to be a chart-topper); I may, however, creepily bring you up multiple times in a blog post about online dating ads.

*This is a footnote for the same comment. Zachattack, I hope you don’t interpret the circa 2001 thing as me not liking you anymore (because I still do). Please don’t take it too seriously; I just needed another constraint so Facebook wouldn’t return 10 million results like they always do.

*This is still for the same comment. Zach seriously I wrote that search when I was watching the first season of Scrubs, and then I was too lazy to re-screen shot it. I loved Wish I Was Here!

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