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Monetising Loneliness

Online dating turns your frustration into profit. Here is how.

Image by Sharon McCutcheon through Unsplash

Do you ever feel like dating apps make it impossible to find a lasting relationship? Just look at their business model to understand why.

In this article, we’ll review the common income sources for dating apps - and how they affect you as a user. Spoiler alert: They are all bad, but there is hope in the end.

1. Mandatory Subscription

(e.g. Match.com, JDate, Meetic)

In this model, users must pay to interact with one another. The price is typically high - up to €50 a month. The high price acts as an entry barrier, driving away uncommitted users, but also reducing the number of potential partners to meet.

Monthly subscription works great for services that provide long-term value, such as news websites or Netflix. But on a dating app you want the exact opposite: to find a partner and leave the app as early as possible. We will soon see how this plays out.

Image of a parking gate
€50 to enter, please!
(Image by Marcel Strauß through Unsplash)

2. Freemium: free with paid “premium” features

(e.g. Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Badoo)

This model originated in services that offer different plans for different needs. For example, Dropbox offers a few gigabytes of free cloud storage, with an option to buy more. People who rely heavily on Dropbox are willing to pay, while others are satisfied with the free service. It’s a win for everyone.

In recent years, more and more dating platforms adopt the freemium model. Unfortunately, it is ill-suited for an app where every user has the same need: to find a partner. In order to offer “extra features”, dating apps artificially restrict their core functions. For example, free users cannot see who “Liked” them, or use search filters (which are crucial for narrowing down potential partners).

Additionally, some free users are less committed to finding a partner. They don’t bother providing the information needed for quality matchmaking, and flake out in the middle of conversation.

Photo of a woman staring sadly at her smartphone
You can meet people for free, just not the right people...
(Image by StockSnap through Pixabay)

3. Ads

Ad revenue used to drive the Internet. But times have changed: People have learned to ignore or block ads. Nowadays, huge website traffic is needed to make a profit through ads. How do you increase traffic? By keeping users engaged.

Just like Youtube captures your attention with recommended videos, so do dating apps keep you swiping. The difference is, you don’t want to spend time swiping. You prefer watching cat videos - and rightly so!

Even after maximising the time users spend on the app, ad revenue is still not enough to finance a serious dating app: there is always another revenue source. The ads just maximise profits (and annoy users).

Did you know?

Many dating apps further maximise profits by collecting your personal data and selling it to advertisers.

Image of a woman sitting inside a shopping cart
If you’re not paying for the product - you are the product.
(Image by Jorge Fakhouri through Pexels)

Conflict of interest

All of these models share a fatal flaw: They give dating apps an incentive to keep you single. The longer you extend your subscription, the more frustrated you become with the limitations of a free app, and the more time you spend swiping - the more money they make.

So, how do apps keep you single and frustrated? By making you waste time on the wrong people before meeting the right one. Presenting you with an endless stream of people to swipe on, to create an illusion of endless choice. Ignoring your preferences, connecting you with irrelevant partners, and encouraging fleeting interactions.

But there is a better option.

Loomino is a dating app designed by frustrated daters. We knew we had to come up with a new business model, one that aligns our interests with those of our users. We wanted to be compensated for successful matchmaking, not for keeping you on the app or selling your data.

Our solution is simple: We charge a one-time activation fee, and only after we find you a great potential partner. The fee serves as a proof of serious intention (and keeps our wheels going). If your first match doesn’t work out, we take responsibility and don’t charge you for future matches. This way, it’s in our interest to find you a partner as early as possible.

Tired of swiping?

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