Match.com has launched the first dating bot for Facebook Messenger in the UK, in a move it describes as “pioneering” and hopes will “surprise and delight” its users.
The bot, which is named Lara, helps singles create their dating profile on Match.com through interacting with Facebook Messenger. The idea is that a Facebook user can create a profile on the dating site without having to leave the social media platform.
Lara uses natural language processing techniques and Artificial Intelligence to interact with users in a “seamless manner”. It can analyse up to 50 categories of criteria and looks through people’s Facebook profiles to help maximise their Match.com profile’s success with potential suitors.
The bot launched in France last year and following the UK launch it will be rolled out across the rest of Europe. The underlying aim is to make the process of finding a date much more convenient by allowing users to start a conversation with the virtual dating assistant at any time. ‘Lara’ will ask the user personal details including their age, location and sexual preference, before inviting them to set up a Match.com account. Lara subsequently alerts them whenever she has found a possible date.
Abbie Oguntade, VP Northern European Region at Match.com UK, tells Marketing Week: “Lara is the girlfriend you wish you had or do have. She gives advice and matches you with people you know and will be compatible with.”
The future of dating
In order to stay ahead of competitors such as Plenty of Fish, Match.com says it has to remain surprising.
“Innovation is at the heart of what we do. We need to continue to surprise and delight. But that’s not to say we are blind to what our competitors are doing,” Oguntade adds.
Innovation is not all focused online either, and Oguntade believes this is one of Match.com’s main strengths.
The business has a mobile and desktop platform but it is also focusing on events for singletons wanting to meet in more organic ways. These include things such as art gallery tours, painting classes and ‘match nights’ where people can mingle with other singles.
According to Oguntade, these events will allow the brand to differentiate and avoid being too digitally-focused. She concludes: “We believe we stand for real dating and for people to make authentic connections. We’re happy for people to meet in real life and the events side of our proposition enables us to stand out.”