QUARTZ - Feb 14 - Dating online has revolutionized how we fall in love. The industry has 270m monthly users globally and grew by 13% in 2020, but online dating (swiping) has become exhausting. Experts say the apps that define the next era of online dating will offer more fun, safety, and community.
Amarnath Thombre, head of Match North America said Match's strategy is to "have each app run its own experiment," and, as the experiments play out, the company can use the successful features in its other properties. Match is also expanding into Asia with the lucrative Pairs in Japan, and Hawaya a Muslim-focused service.
"Pretty much everything that we charge for on Hinge, we couldn't really give away for free because then it wouldn't work anymore," said Hinge's CEO/founder Justin McLeod. "Think about Roses, for example. Roses are really, really special. If we gave everyone unlimited Roses, then it would completely defeat the purpose of Roses." Hinge downloads grew 63% globally between 2019 and 2020.
Mark Brooks, a leading industry consultant, says that for dating apps to be able to keep monetizing, moving into a more community-oriented gear is the way to go. "We want people to stick around, have fun. Yes, hook up, meet up, and maybe stick around even beyond that point," he said. "I think we'll see a general shift away from dating into more community-esque apps."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, The Meet Group saw livestreamed minutes increase by 40%. The Meet Group provides livestreaming for Match Group's Plenty of Fish, and the feature is proving to be popular. In Feb Match acquired Hyperconnect, a Korean "social discovery" company that owns a livestreaming app, and a video and audio chatting app that translates conversations in real time, for $1.7B.
Cook points out that the growth of the dating industry has generally been slowing. "And so what do dating companies do when you're saturating the market? ...they find other ways to engage the user. ...they can provide some entertainment value."
Every female dater interviewed for this article mentioned how they often feel unsafe on the apps, or how they are put off by unwanted sexual attention. In 2019, Bumble launched a feature that detects and blurs inappropriate photos. Tinder directs users who report violations to support organizations. Content moderation is slowly getting better.
Dating could jump to new media. For a true dating revolution to happen, the industry needs another media shift, like the one from desktop to mobile, said Brooks. He predicts that the jump will be to Augmented Reality, and that through wearable technology like AR lenses, people will get more "intel-on-the-go" about potential matches. "When passing by someone who has double matched, or is viable and an exceptional date candidate, they will be indicated to them." (Hakuna Live, one of the apps Match acquired in its Hyperconnect deal, features augmented reality avatars).
What's more, Brooks thinks we need more "coaxing along" when we're dating. AR, as well as "informed, tailored advice" from the dating service will deliver helpful nudges in real time, such as: "it's been 20 days since your last date night, might be time for a date at ,'" he said. "I think the benefits of timely advice will outweigh the creepiness of having a computer act as an informed advisor."
Mark Brooks: Please see Courtland Brooks for more information on our niche agency/consultancy. We help Internet dating and online social communities to grow, and get their strategy, business development and marketing (more) right. ;-)