Over the past five years, the objective of dating apps has changed. It’s no longer about finding the one, it’s about having some fun. We have seen the commodisation of love by brands.
Picture this. It’s 2014. You’re a well-known fast-food pizza delivery brand, consistently ranked amongst the UK’s favourites. You’re looking for somewhere to turn up the temperature and get people thumbing left, right and centre for the chance to win a free Veggie Supreme pizza. Surely, you wouldn’t look to... Tinder?
Well, you did. When Domino’s Pizza showed up as the first brand to advertise on Tinder, it was a hugely successful partnership. Tinder users ‘swiped right’ for Domino’s, which led to the brand matching with over 700 people, reaching over 230,000 and providing the opportunity to talk directly to consumers in an engaging fun and social way. For the brand, advertising on Tinder was part of its five-year transformation strategy aimed at shifting the emphasis away from new pizza product releases, to one that flexed around people, occasions, and popular culture.
When Tinder ventured into advertising with programmatic ads, it monetised the app and commoditised love – it's about engagement, but it’s of the eyes-on-the-ad kind, not the sparkly ring kind. In the five years since Domino’s ads first appeared on Tinder, advertising on dating apps has taken off. Companies such as Diageo, Uber, and Spotify have embraced dating apps as a key channel to target a younger, digitally-driven demographic (Tinder’s demographic is 18-35).
Last year, TV network HBO and dating app Bumble collaborated to host a two-night event, ‘stay home at the movies’, where Bumble users experienced a first date movie night unlike any other. Winners were invited to spend the evening watching a movie at a $30 million flat in New York City and they could choose to bring either a Bumble BFF or Bumble date as their plus-one.
Why do dating app campaigns like those by HBO and Domino’s work so well?
Because of a simple insight: people aren't on dating apps for love anymore, they're on them for shits and giggles, and brands can leverage this very effectively. The love connection is now with brands and these apps have been swift to move with the shift in attitude towards love and singledom.
Let’s be real. It’s 2019, who wants to find a soulmate at 25? You’re young, fun, and living your best single life – so why give that up? People aren’t on Tinder to find the one, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out for a good time, and that attitude is reflected in dating sites’ own campaigns.
Tinder kicked off its first major brand campaign: ‘Single, Not Sorry’. An unapologetic celebration of single-culture and the role it plays in people’s lives (because being single doesn’t mean you’re in purgatory). Some 81% of respondents surveyed by Tinder said that being single benefitted them far beyond their romantic lives – listing gaining new friends, dedication to work, and personal wellness as their top advantages.
OkCupid experienced similar success by tapping into the singledom zeitgeist last year. To reintroduce the platform to a younger audience, the app created ‘DTF’, a campaign that subverted the popular dating acronym by making ‘Down to F@*k’ whatever people wanted it to be – think ‘Down to fire up the kiln’, or ‘Down to four-twenty’. The goal was to change the conversation around dating culture, empowering individuals to interpret DTF in a way that’s reflective of them. And it worked, in ten weeks, OkCupid saw a 30% growth in social audience, as well as a 25% increase in revenue due to new users.
The behavioural shift is also reflected in changes to the business model of dating apps with the rise of extensions, like Bumble BFF or Tinder Festival Mode, which are friendship focused rather than relationship orientated. What these mate date ‘expansion packs’ tell us, is that there’s more to life than love – if you can have fun and find a new pal that also loves Childish Gambino – then so be it.
When looking at dating apps and brand collaborations, one thing is clear; people are there for a good time and if brands want a look in, they’re going to have to make it clear that they’re up for it too. Whether it’s a pizza or a night in at the movies, right now the most memorable campaigns are those that give the people what they want right now: fun.
New rules of engagement:
- Understand why you want to be in the dating world. Why is this the right place for you and your brand?
- Know your audience, dating app collaborations aren’t for everyone – or every brand.
- Study the cultural shifts, understand the new norms.
- Give consumers something to engage with, don’t foghorn them.
- Define your messaging, give people something to talk about.
- Differentiate your service/offer.
- Make it fun!
Lily Aey and Savannah Dawsey-Hewitt, Creative & social strategists at Impero.