Will ‘native dating’ advertising work for Tinder?

Dating app Tinder said this week that it will explore the use of native advertising but would it be a success given that dating is so personal?

Lucy Handley

Tinder is taking the UK dating world by storm, being the 20th most downloaded iOS app and the second most popular lifestyle app according to analytics site App Annie. In an earnings call this week Tinder claimed that user additions were up 15 per cent from February to March, an increase of 1,500 per cent year on year.

The joy (or horror, depending on your view of online dating) of it is the ease with which Tinder users can set up their profiles and find matches. They sign in with Facebook to choose photos and a couple of preference questions later, they can be ‘swiping right’ in the hope of matching with the man or woman of their dreams.

There are no psychometric tests, interest lists or profile boxes to complete; Tinder simply shows users pictures of men or women and if that person finds them attractive, they anonymously swipe their photo to the right. If the chosen one has also swiped right on the other user’s picture it is a match and the two people can send each other messages: it’s fun and addictive.

Tinder promises never to reveal on Facebook that someone is using the app and that is a core part of its appeal. Often daters don’t want all their ‘friends’ – including exes, long lost school friends or colleagues – to know they are single. So would they want a company advertising on Tinder to know it, or not care that they were being targeted?

People on the app are a rich vein for brands: they are likely to be young, looking for date ideas and wanting to appear at their best when they actually meet someone – all fodder for venues, styling products and clothing labels. Tinder uses people’s location too, and knows their age, sex and sexuality.

To use native advertising within the app would mean that a brand would seamlessly have to fit in, with content that looks just like what is already there on Tinder. So would an event suggested by Yplan appear as a person to be swiped right? Or if a can of Lynx body spray appears three times and gets a ‘yes’ swipe, does that person get a freebie, given that finding matches on Tinder is purposely like a game?

I’m sure there are more intelligent ways for brands to be involved with Tinder but with its owner IAC launching a similar style app for sister brand Match.com in the US, and the new LinkedUp dating platform (which you sign into using LinkedIn) aping Tinder’s swipe feature, I expect many will want to get involved in this new way to reach people.

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