Elite Dating Apps: Should Brands be Paying More Attention?

by: Dustin Hawley | Monday October 21, 2019

It's estimated that about 1.6 billion swipes are made on the Tinder every single day, with approximately 26 million of them resulting in matches. About one million of those matches progress into an actual date. Since the uber-popular dating app launched seven years ago, over 20 billion matches have been made, with more being made by the day. 

Whether through relentless swiping or the ability to see someone you crossed paths with less than a minute beforehand, Tinder and other forms of online courtship have become the norm for millions of people around the globe. Tinder boasts over 57 million active users, 15 million on Badoo, 12 million on Happn, and 7 million on PlentyOfFish. That’s a lot of eyeballs and a lot of active thumbs.

hand holding a smartphone with a screen display for a tinder match

Online dating isn’t this new fad that has taken the world by storm over the past decade. Sites like Match.com have been around since 1995. Even sites like eHarmony are coming up on their 20-year mark. As the relevance of dating apps has grown over recent years, so has the interest brands have taken in them. They are quickly beginning to realize the vast number of unexplored opportunities there are with this unique, growing audience.

“If you think about single people and the amount of money they spend in the market and the kinds of things they spend money on – restaurants, travel – it’s a great opportunity for marketers to message a really specific audience in a very specific environment,” says Peter Foster, general manager of global advertising and brand solutions at Match Group, which has over 45 brands including Match, OkCupid, Tinder, PlentyOfFish and new kid on the block Hinge.

On the other side of the coin - and taking a very different stance to many of its peers - sites like eHarmony don't have advertising on its platform at all. It's a tactic that, while likely tied to their brand values, still begs the question; should brands be paying more attention to dating apps? And are dating apps a viable forum for your marketing efforts?

Dating Apps: Are They a Match for Your Brand?

In comparison to Facebook - where the news feed has become annoyingly saturated with ads of every kind - dating apps like Tinder have all their advertising opportunities in-app, and only serve up one ad for every 30 profiles. For brands seeking to break through the noise and reach their target audience in an effective but non-irritating fashion, this is undoubtedly a huge selling point.

calvin klein tinder ads

Some apps like Tinder have already begun their venture into programmatic advertising, the intent being to make the platform more accessible for smaller brands who may not have the minimum investment of $25,000 the company usually asks for. This is where businesses like Match are faced with a challenge; finding the balance between continuing to be an appealing and lucrative platform for brands, but not ruining the user experience by serving too many ads.

“If you’re on Tinder and thinking about where you’re going to go Friday night and who you’re going to be with, you’re also thinking where am I going to go, what am I going to do, what am I going to wear, what’s my hair going to look like, what movies are on? It’s a really context-heavy way to reach that single audience versus maybe Facebook which might know you’re single but your mindset on Facebook is very different. You’re leaning back and absorbing content versus thinking about a specific part of how you’re living your life.”

-Peter Foster, general manager of global advertising and brand solutions at Match Group

This is noteworthy because dating apps are not immune to the challenges that exist with issues around brand safety. They are filled with fake profiles, a culture of ‘catfishing’, even profiles that promote or endorse racism and discrimination: essentially, they are minefields of unregulated territory. There is no surefire practice when it comes to stopping an ad from appearing next to a picture of someone’s private parts or above the profile of an alt-extremist. 

Should brands be paying more attention?

In a period where the majority of brands are on high alert - doing everything their power to avoid doing anything that could somehow harm their brand - the risk may outweigh the value for some. That being said, it should be noted that dating apps have come a long way in recent years, and as they continue their maturation, they will increasingly benefit both users and advertisers alike. So should brands all be investing in marketing on dating apps? Not necessarily. But should brands be paying more attention to dating apps and their potential? The answer is clear.

Absolutely.

Dating Apps and Influencer Marketing

Whitney Wolfe Herd had no idea what to expect when setting out to create her dating app, Bumble. But she did know she wanted to provide a forum that was absent of female abuse and empower women to have a stronger voice online. Additionally, she wanted to be where her target audience was online.

What happened as a result is just another reason why you need a brand ambassador program. 

“We showed up where young, social people were,” said Wolfe Herd. “Bars, cool companies, campuses. We painted a picture of what Bumble was before it even launched.”

bumble ceo whitney wolfe herd

This kind of 'boots on the ground' version of marketing did wonders for the company in Bumble’s early days, but it was a hands-on approach taken by Wolfe Herd that stimulated her intrigue. For 

Soon after the app launched, Wolfe Herd would frequently use it to message people and ask them how they heard about Bumble. Lucky for her, a fairly high percentage of people actually replied, and told her they heard about it from someone named Jane Smith. (real name omitted). What happened next was interesting: she was getting this response numerous times.

Wolfe Herd went around and asked her employees who Anne Smith was, and eventually, one of them answered that it was a friend of theirs from high school. The team ended up tracking down Anne Smith and discovered her Instagram profile, which surprisingly only had about 200 followers at the time.

Apparently, Anne Smith had worn a Bumble branded T-shirt during a recent spin class and shared a picture of it on her social media. This led her followers to check out the app.

“We then worked with maybe 10,000 ‘Anne Smith’ hyper-micro-influencers,” said Wolfe Herd. “Our team was so authentic and mission-driven that their friends wanted to be a part of it, too.”

So why use influencer marketing? By working with engaged, real consumers of her product, and listening to what those consumers wanted out of the experience, Wolfe Herd’s Bumble is about to cross 40 million registered users. The app has recently added Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz for people who were “hacking” their profiles to say they weren’t looking for a relationship but were looking to connect with people.

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