The Data Behind Dating

Tuesday’s day of ‘Unlocking data’ opened on a right-swipe worthy talk, ‘Data and Dating’, from Peter Foster, General Manager of The Match Group. We all know that feeling of ‘accidentally’ stumbling across a photo of your ex-partner looking happy with their new beau, and when Peter started with this anecdote, I realised that and Tinder know, too. They know very well – because they have a huge pot of user-formulated data.

The population of people looking for love has exploded in the last half-century. In 1960, just 10% of 18-year-olds were single – that figure has risen to 47% in 2016. Digital dating platforms are no longer an unspoken phenomenon; instead, they’re now what over 50% of us use to meet people. Singles spend two more hours a week online than those who are happily matched and Tinder users accumulate over a billion swipes a day. Single millennials are a highly influential demographic – tech-savvy and constantly ‘tuned-in’; we’re now invaluable to brands.

Match is responsible for 80% of the online dating market – that’s a lot of new people in one place that marketeers haven’t thought much about yet. It’s time they seized the opportunity. The data from online platforms is self-reported and highly accurate; logging behaviours, professions and mutual friends. As well as potentially helping you find a well-suited match, this is gold-dust for advertisers – see Tinder’s partnership with toothpaste brand Pepsodent – a perfect example of how data can be used to craft messaging to a specific audience. They looked into how our profile pictures can affect which way we swipe – whether a smile can affect a match (it does 70% of the time, so think twice about the black and white, introspective profile pic). They then built on this, encouraging the cynics amongst us to enhance our smile with their product. Effective, right?

When asked about whether or not user data is sold to advertisers, Peter’s answer was simple: Yes. The Match Group are in a unique position – soon apps will be smart enough to match users based on their preference of hair colour. So if you’re serious about online dating, just know that the singular emoji in your bio isn’t benefitting you, your future bae or brands.


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