Dating in the new millennium often starts on a screen measuring no more than six inches across. Social apps and sites like Tinder, OkCupid and a host of others allow users to meet and greet before a first date. Some apps allow chatting after a mutual “like,” while others provide special phone numbers so you can get to know each other without sacrificing privacy. These platforms have a growing following that also offers the potential for advertising opportunities.
Tinder’s TV Advertising
Recently, Tinder started testing the response to hosting native ads with a joint project they ran with Fox. These ads work within the app’s platform and appear to be normal content. Posting profiles of characters from the hit shows Suits and The Mindy Project, the ads helped drive interest in the shows as well as build the dating site’s brand identity. This is just one possibility for using dating sites and apps for promoting third-parties.
The real question with Tinder – and most dating applications – is, “What type of app is this?” Is it a social media platform or a dating/hookup site? The answer will help determine which ads are more effective and most appropriate. With a reported $500 million valuation, calling Tinder just a dating app doesn’t quite seem accurate, especially to Match.com CEO Sam Yagan.“I can’t think of a single acquisition of a dating site for more than $10 million by someone other than Match,” Yagan said. “We are the global buyer.” That could soon change, however, through third-party monetization.
Native Ads on Social Media
Social media platforms offer tremendous value to marketers, particularly when native ads enter the picture. Studies have shown them to be more effective than banner ads, though some might consider them deceptive. After all, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but turns out to be a parrot, could start getting upset. Native ads look like normal content, sound like normal content but actually serve as advertisements. It’s an ad model that used too brazenly can chip away at an organization’s credibility over time.
OkCupid Combats Ad-blockers
OkCupid has taken a different approach to advertising. They use banner ads, and have for a long time. Their model is ad-supported and free to users, the theory being that the free service might generate enough users to offset the profit difference through ads. This worked well, until savvy users started installing ad-block software that cut into the bottom line. OkCupid is owned by IAC, which also owns Match.com. In 2012, OkCupid faced the reality that ad-blocking was becoming a serious problem for them, and they came up with a unique solution. Ad-blockers no longer saw traditional banner ads, but instead saw this:
While $5 per customer for a lifetime of service doesn’t seem like much of a return, when you consider what these users were contributing before the policy change it becomes a solid return. After all, ad-block users are those least likely to click on ads, and normally give little to no advertising revenue to the service. This appeal helped pry a few dollars out of the most resistant consumers.
With nearly every site and app meeting monetization, many consumers are protesting digital advertising overload. Consumers are looking for alternatives like ad-blocking software, even when they understand that ads support their favorite content. Privacy issues also plague marketers, as users become more aware of how much of their browsing is tracked and shared. More native ads may well be the solution. Dating apps like Coffee Meets Bagel have taken another approach to monetizing their service. Users pay for communication privileges, and marketers pay for coupon space. Essentially, users are offered discounts at businesses that might be considered a good place to meet up with a new friend or hookup.
The online ad world is changing. The push to keep the exchange of information as free as possible may never die, and impatience with intrusive marketing has never been higher. Businesses need to stay current on the trends like native ads to continue seeing reasonable gains from monetization.