Within the past five years, dating services have grown to a $2.2+ billion industry as consumers turn to the internet looking for love. The term “swiping right” has become a frequent phrase among those familiar with dating apps. In the mobile dating world, to “swipe right” means that you have personally endorsed someone or something. In the context of dating, it would obviously mean someone – you’re endorsing that someone as a prospective date. But you can also ‘swipe right’ to endorse things – like products, services, stores, places, etc. Since ‘swiping right’ to endorse a dating prospect is a regular dating app activity, ‘swiping right’ to endorse advertised products and services takes just a slight leap.
The average dating app user is fairly young, 25-34 years old, urban, and has something in common with other users – seeking a date. Currently, only a few dating apps accept paid advertising. Tinder, Grindr, and match.com are three such sites and all three are owned by the same parent company, InterActiveCorp (IAC).
Last April, Bud Light launched the first paid advertising campaign on Tinder. Brands now look to Tinder due to the website’s extensive number of users. With the wealth of information and types of data dating apps collect (browsing history, interests, demographics and location), they have a lot to offer advertisers. Many experts were unsure how campaigns would perform on dating apps, but the ‘swipe right’ results reassured them of the good fit. According to Tinder, 20% of users “swipe right” on ads, indicating they want to engage further with a brand. When users saw a video ad from early advertisers like Bud Light or Orbitz, they could ‘swipe right’ with the advertiser and receive future content. The beauty of dating app advertising is that the user is in control. If they don’t want to see an advertisement, they can ‘swipe left.’
One of the most impactful mobile tactics within dating apps is the use of native advertising. Mobile advertising is considered intrusive by many users who feel that it interrupts the users’ mobile experience, especially in dating apps. Many dating apps do not accept paid advertising because they’re afraid of this negative impact on their user base. Dating apps that have allowed advertising are using native advertising because it’s more organic and does not distract the user.
Since Tinder began to accept ads, several other dating apps have hopped on the advertising band wagon and joined the celebration of a new source of revenue. Prior to paid advertising, almost all dating app revenue came from use- based subscriptions and in-app purchases.
How will dating app advertising evolve in 2016? Will brands and dating apps soon be a match made in heaven? Is the new year going to allow for more creative opportunities for advertisers, or will the dating sites stick to monetizing on user-based subscriptions?
Recently, Dominos and Tinder have joined forces and began offering singles a hot and tasty deal when they “swipe right” with the pizza brand. Daters will then be invited to start a conversation and potentially win a hot date – in the form of Domino’s freebies and deals. And they launched it just in time for those flying solo this past Valentine’s Day.