When Tinder last month rolled out its Tinder Plus upgrade, the service said it would charge singles over the age of 30 twice as much for the premium service, about a month.
Tinder, America’s fast-growing online-dating juggernaut, last week unveiled its first big branding partnership aimed at its core audience of millennial fling-seekers: a neon-drenched video-ad campaign hyping Bud Light’s mega-keg party, “Whatever, USA.” Meanwhile, over at Tinder’s less-youthful rival e Harmony, a recent ad saw its 80-year-old founder counseling a single woman besieged by bridesmaid’s invitations to take some time (and, of course, the site’s 200-question compatibility quiz) to find that special someone: “Beth, do you want fast or forever?
” Both companies are dominant forces in America’s $2.2 billion online-dating industry, which in the last few years has quickly become a bedrock of the American love life.
“Maybe it’s a gimmick, but it’s something that’s fun, that’s enjoyable, that doesn’t have that sort of weight that the former profile-focused matching sites had.” Like many Web startups, Tinder (motto: “It’s like real life, but better.”) has struggled to make money off its swelling audience.
Its first big ad campaign, with Bud Light, was perhaps emblematic of what it can offer millennial-aimed companies: It will allow, as Tinder’s vice president of advertising Brian Norgard told Techcrunch, the dating app to “give that data back to our brands in a really valuable way.” But Tinder’s Plus pricing has also led to blowback for what skeptics called the service’s ageist ways: “I’m not desperate enough to keep using Tinder now that I know it considers me a dried up old hag,” wrote Dani Burlison, a 41-year-old single mother, in .
Some have argued that Tinder’s model — of love (or lust) at first swipe — is actually closer to the future of online dating not just for young singles, but for daters of all ages. Finkel, a Northwestern University psychology professor who has studied online dating, has called superficiality “Tinder’s greatest asset,” arguing that the service is actually closer than profile matchmaking to that old style of dating: catching someone’s eye and, knowing nothing about their background, feeling a sense of attraction from across the room.
Making a profile by answering hundreds of questions was once a necessary move to bring legitimacy to online dating.
Though the firm said subscribers are joining at faster rates and staying longer, analysts last year estimated e Harmony’s revenue growth had slowed to a crawl, and was still half that of the Match Group’s, the mix of Tinder, Match and OKCupid that brought in more than 0 million in the U. Many market-watchers have questioned the basic premise of e Harmony and other sites, which depend on long detailed profiles and dedicated algorithms.
Economist Dan Ariely and other researchers have argued that online dating profiles rest on a fatal flaw: They show “searchable” attributes, like job or religion, while ignoring the key details of a dater’s personality: sense of humor, conversation style, etc.
Tinder shook up the dating world, known for its long personality quizzes and profile-based matchmaking, with its ego-boosting, hook-up-friendly, mobile flirting app: Two daters are presented with each other’s photos, and if (and only if) they both like what they see and swipe right, the service hooks them up with a chat box, where the daters can take it from there.
After taking off on college campuses, Tinder now boasts 26 million matches a day, and its leaders have invested heavily in maintaining its reputation as a hook-up haven for young people.