The singles market
On average, the industry has expanded at 3.5% a year since 2008 and is currently worth $5 billion. Match Group Inc. dominates the industry. Part of their staggering success is due to the fact that the market is growing. Currently, about 50% of people in America are single. So it’s no wonder that there are an average of 270 million online dating app users in the U.S alone.
Companies like Match Group Inc. have been seeing a high profit margin by pushing premium subscriptions on Tinder. Providing personal data allows them to accurately target you with ads and promote premium subscription plans. Match Group Inc. currently owns Match.com, OKCupid, Hinge, Meetic, PlentyOfFish, Ship and OurTime, and brought in a revenue of over $36.6 billion in 2020. And Tinder accounted for $1.4 billion of it. The money Tinder brought in was made mostly through user purchase of premium subscriptions. In total, 4.1 million Tinder users are paying for it.
How dating app algorithms work
Sure, there are a lot of singles to sort through, so it’s probably good news that dating apps exist to make it easier. Dating app algorithms have transformed the way millions of people worldwide meet and develop relationships. The mechanics are pretty consistent across all apps. Each dating service uses the same basic algorithm. In a nutshell, dating apps are search tools. The apps use algorithms to match people up using personal data. The info they collect can be anything from location, age, app activity and specific preferences that you set when creating a profile.
User interaction also plays a large factor into the algorithm’s predictions. Dating apps calculate match-ups based on how users react and engage with potential matches. For example, if a user doesn’t typically engage with people who have tattoos, the algorithm will adjust to decrease the frequency a user sees matches with tattoos. Simple enough.
Similar but different
While many apps and sites use a similar algorithm to match people up, that doesn’t mean every app is the same. It is important to think of the algorithm as a backbone. Each app still has different functions and options for finding love. But with so many out there, it can be hard to determine which ones are best for you. We’ve put together a list to get you up to speed on all the potential dating services, including how their algorithm works and just what types of personal data they are collecting.
We had put it on the list. Tinder is extremely popular with around 75 million active users per month. As many are aware, the app is based off of a swipe model. Swipe right to like, swipe left to pass. The algorithm all started with chess. Yes, the Tinder algorithm was based off of a software called the Elo rating system. This program was originally designed to rank chess players. Tinder put it to work ranking how other profiles interact with yours. The algorithm also logs your own likes and dislikes otherwise regarded as swipe lefts and swipe rights. It then gives your profile an “Elo score” based on how others swiped on you.
Tinder claims that the best way to get matches is to use the app and use it often. The reason for this is simple, the more you use the app the more data Tinder has on you. The app collects information such as date of birth, age, gender, as well as keeping a database of personal photos and videos. Tinder also collects information about you from third party sources. It does this when you login to or connect relevant social media accounts. In theory, this should help increase the likelihood of a successful match. On average 50% of Tinder match ups meet in real life. What’s more, over 30 million matches are made each day on the app.
Bumble functions similarly to Tinder in that it utilizes the swipe model. The key difference is that only women can message first. Plus, matches will disappear if there are no messages in 24 hours. Bumble’s search algorithm is fairly mysterious. There is no confirmed statement from Bumble on how it functions. Still, there does seem to be a basic search and filter feature to show you potential matches to swipe on in your stack. Additionally, since the app is a similar model to Tinder, it wouldn’t be a reach to say it most likely works in a similar manner.
With 85% of Bumble users looking for a long term commitment one would hope that the app is successful. According to Bumble, 25% of users went on a first date with someone they met on the app in the last month. It’s important to remember that women make the first move. In each month, 97% of women on the app message their potential matches.
No swiping and no Elo rating system. Hinge is more focussed on long-term relationships than anything. The app that’s “designed to be deleted” functions on the Nobel-prize winning Gale-Shapley algorithm. The algorithm matches people based on the concept of “trading”. To break this down, take a group of ten men and ten women. Have one group start by picking their first choice, and if they get rejected have them move on to their second choice. Continue this until none of the people left want to get matched anymore. Here you have people trading for their first choice, then their second and so on.
User engagement and interaction plays a massive factor in overall success. The more you use the app the more data the algorithm can work with. Over time, Hinge sees who you are interested in, who you send comments to and who you are having conversations with. The system matches people who are mutually like each other and in order to do this they need as much data as possible to improve accuracy.
Hinge collects data on sexual preference, messages, exact location, religion, race, drug use and even life goals such as having children. In terms of success, Hinge has pretty good reviews. Around 90% of members said their first dates were great, and 72% said they wanted to go on a second.
OKcupid has been around for a long time. It offers more robust dating profiles than most apps. With over 4,000 questions to choose from, you can provide much more personal information on OKcupid. This is the kind of data the site wants and needs to be successful. The types of data you can provide can range from political beliefs, hair color, location and even if spelling mistakes annoy you. While a search-type algorithm is employed, OKcupid works to develop a match percentage. The match percentage between two users is calculated based on the similarity in answers to the profile questions as well as if you both are looking for the same type of relationship.
Their website boasts over 91 million connections made every year. Add an average of 50 thousand dates made each week. Still, OKcupid is the only dating app with over a thousand questions all intended to match you up.
Grindr is a queer dating and hookup app. It was one of the first apps to use location as a means to match users. According to Grindr, algorithms are only used for security purposes. For instance, finding and deleting spam accounts. Still, some algorithmic thinking is in play because at the end of the day it is still an app and it still uses a sorting function. Grindr works by filtering user preferences and distance. When a user searches for a nearby match the app will display other users who were online that day. It then sorts these potential matches by applying a user’s preference filters.
All in all, the app has around 3.8 million daily users. While that number isn’t too shabby it is important to remember that Grindr does have more of a casual dating focus, this is not to say that long term matches aren’t possible on the app.
Having a date with data
With so many dating apps collecting so much personal information, it is crucial to know how your data is being used without your awareness. While dating apps are a helpful commodity, you are still providing them with information they can turn a profit with. Apps like Tinder share your personal user data with around 45 other Match Group companies. This includes apps and sites like Hinge and OK Cupid, among others. The company shares user data with third-parties to use for analytics and advertising. You don’t need to be in the dark with your data, turn on the light with Invisibly. Get started today.