Once viewed as a service for the lonely, socially challenged love-seekers, online dating has become a mass market phenomenon. Mobile apps used by the Millennials (young people born roughly between 1980 and the mid-2000s) have driven a transparent and socially acceptable market of moving relationships from the online domain into the real world in an instant. Mobile dating has become the figurehead of the online/offline convergence age embraced by today’s digital natives. We at Acuity see this as another key mobile trend, having developed a strong record of understanding and facilitating business transactions for mobile-focused players.
The ubiquity of the smartphone has now managed to turn digital dating into a portable, handheld activity. Led by the popularity of Tinder, with a self-proclaimed one billion swipes daily, and which lets users scan photos and short profiles of others and with one swipe, chat to or pass on a prospect, mobile dating apps are transforming online dating. New apps are offering variants on Tinder’s offer. Hinge, for instance, sifts through a user’s Facebook connections for friends of friends. Many users of mobile dating apps are using both these and more conventional dating websites.
Another reason mobile dating apps are thriving is that it’s far easier as well as more discreet to swipe through one than to create long, detailed profiles, and it has the added entertainment value of working like a game. Amarnath Thombre, president of Match.com in North America, which has created its own app, acknowledges that Tinder is creating an entirely new audience of digital daters. “What Tinder especially has accomplished, which I think none of our competitors could achieve before, is that it opened up this young demographic — 18- to 25-year-olds — that no product could open up before”.
Some users are also reporting finding relationships and love on the site, which challenges its image as more of a casual dating facilitator. “I heard about Tinder in a funny, joking, laugh-about-it way,” said Sara Chamberlin, a 31-year-old Californian marketing manager who went on to meet her boyfriend via this app, to the New York Times. “But I started hearing that friends of mine had met significant others on this app, and I thought, maybe it’s not just this hookup thing. It’s for finding relationships”.
Since the boundary between digital dating and social media platforms is becoming increasingly blurred, revenue-generation models are similar. Free apps such as Tinder, Grindr and Hinge have either implemented in-app advertising or are preparing to do so, with user numbers becoming the main driver of brand valuation. The paid option to remove ads offers a potential moneymaker as well.
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