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Can dating apps sharpen your brand intelligence?
February 19, 2021
It’s no secret that digital has fared well through the pandemic. From communication platforms like Zoom, to on-demand home delivery services like Uber Eats, to online retailers like Amazon, digital has picked up the slack as the physical has become a socially distanced memory. Surely, though, there are exceptions: surely online dating, for instance, has cooled off in a context where, swipe as you might, you can’t actually meet anyone?
Apparently not. Dating apps have continued to be a hotbed of activity as people with time to spare and social lives to rekindle flock to them during lockdown. This market has been huge for some time: at present, GWI reports that 31% of single internet users globally are online daters. If there have been any signs of a pullback from that number, nobody has told the stock markets: last week, Bumble made its market debut at $13 billion, minting a new tech billionaire in the process.
In a world where every aspect of daily life can be linked back to a tech powerhouse, there’s something unique about dating apps. On the one hand, their userbase is dominated by the younger consumers that many brands put the most effort into reaching: 85% of dating app users are under 34. On the other hand, these businesses position themselves in the market much more distinctively than we see in other digital sectors; while Facebook and Twitter try to attract the broadest possible range of users and, dating apps coexist alongside one another by drawing very distinctive audiences.
What your dating app says about you
This isn’t mere speculation: thanks to the all-encompassing nature of the social media giants, we can actually analyse the differences between groups of users who interact with various dating apps. We can do this by understanding what the baseline likelihood of an average user interacting with any given brand is, and then see how much more or less likely a user connected with a particular dating app is to interact with that brand. Grindr users in the UK, for example, turn out to be 2.6 times more likely to interact with Netflix than the average user – and, more remarkably, 12.6 times more likely to interact with comedy star Miranda Hart.
One of the reasons for looking at this is as a kind of public service: anyone who has dipped their toe into online dating will know how difficult it can be to find your tribe, those people you really resonate with and actually want to meet. As you can see from the full chart, it’s surprising how strongly a favourite brand and favourite celebrity indicate a whole personality type.
Human affinity beats simple metrics
For us, though, the more important reason for looking at this data is that it clues us in to strategic marketing opportunities for brands which otherwise we might have been completely unaware of. For brands looking to capitalise on the engagement patterns of consumers (and get into bed with them), this granular analysis offers a window into how the modern consumer situates themselves in the brandscape.
That Hinge users favour Emirates airlines tells us something about the aspirational attitudes of its users – in contrast to the home comforts of eHarmony and Cadbury Schweppes. It’s information that could help online dating companies further hone their unique niche in the market, but it’s also information that can help any brand get a deeper understanding of who its customers – and who the customers it badly wants – really are.
Benchmarking engagement on owned channels or A/B testing click-through rates for messaging alternatives is now well understood. Brands have thoroughly acclimatised to the realities of digital marketing. To take the next step forward, they will have to learn to once again see behind those numbers, into the realities of people’s lives, not just personalising campaigns, but person-alising them, and making sure they truly connect and resonate.
The first step to this is media intelligence. By implementing tools that reveal how consumers behave across channels, building bridges between siloed metrics, strategists can see the audience in detailed clarity and plan that much more effectively. An omnichannel approach is not just another layer of tech to put on the stack: it opens the door to greater creativity and more thoughtful communication. And if in the process, we help someone meet their soulmate, that’s a bonus!