Cannes Lions 2015: 'We need to balance the transparency-privacy issue'

Tinder's co-founder Sean Rad was in conversation with The Financial Times' Caroline Daniel

Jun 21, 2015 04:53:00 PM | Article | Raahil Chopra

The second session on day one of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity saw Tinder's co-founder Sean Rad explaining how the two and a half year-old company has expanded into 196 countries, and made eight billion matches globally.
The session titled 'Meet the disruptors: How Tinder coupled technology with human experience' began with Bill Kanarick, SVP and CMO, SapientNitro, explaining how human needs have changed with technology.
Explaining that with the help of an incident involving his daughter, he said, "We were on this drive together and the argument was about music of each generation, and which is better. She made he hear one song and referred to it as 'smooth'. I wanted to make her listen to one 'smooth' song of my time. I got to a traffic signal, and just as I was to use the fingerprint technology to buy the song on the iStore, the finger wasn't getting recognised. I had to pull over to the side of the road, get the song and then carry on with the discussion. I was frustrated by the fact that I had to pull over to the side of the road to do that. This shows how much technology is impacting our lives. To put things in perspective, McDonald's needed 50 years to sell six billion burgers. It took Tinder two and a half years to reach that number in terms of matches made. Human needs have changed."
Kanarick then introduced Rad along with the moderator for the session, The Financial Times' Caroline Daniel.
First up was about how the idea to launch Tinder was conceived. Rad explained, "Meeting people is important, but the most difficult. One doesn't know how to. You miss opportunities to go up to a person, and that's where Tinder comes in. Tinder removes all the social barriers. It's about bringing the world together. One's life is about the people they meet."
Daniel cited some stats about Tinder. Tinder is present across 196 countries. With eight billion matches made in two a half years, it does about 300 matches a second. There are 1.4 billion swipes a day and 16,000 a second. She followed this by asking Rad of the challenges.
Rad said, "To operate at this scale is fascinating. It's challenging enough to build a product for an audience. To build a product for such a global audience is complex. One big challenge, and I would like to call it a luxurious challenge, is about prioritising our ambitions. It's about picking what we need to do next. We have a prioritisation index internally to help us pick what's next. It's always about what's best for the users."
So how is Tinder working with brands? Rad said, "It's wonderful to see that audiences are open to hear from brands. It's a great environment for advertisers. Engagement in campaigns are massive. Brands create profiles, and 25 per cent of them are swiped right (engaged with). Views on videos are massive too. Audiences are engaged with Tinder. An average user spends 11 minutes a day on the medium. We want to delight our users and give them something that's exclusive. We want to give users the opportunity to attend national screenings. What excites me most is when a brand comes in and launches some exclusive content on Tinder. We've had a high calibre of advertising."
Daniel then asked Rad whether there was any backlash from users when it came to advertising on the medium. Rad said, "Users are receptive. Nobody can interact with a user unless the user gives control to the brand. If a user doesn't want to interact with a brand, it'll just swipe left."
Answering a question about whether an app that promotes users to choose whether they want to interact with one person or not on the basis of one picture, Rad said, "We've seen that there's so much information one gets in a picture. You get better first impressions in a picture than you could at a first meeting. It's superficial to say that photos are superficial."
Daniel then asked the Tinder co-founder as to how he would react if his parents were on Tinder. "Everyone single should be on Tinder. I don't think it would be apt, keeping in mind their current status, if they're on Tinder."
The next subject was privacy. Rad said, "We are heading to a world of full transparency. Privacy may be sacrificed . We need to balance the transparency-privacy issue. Most advancements in the technology have happened with a level of privacy sacrificed."
Rad ended his session with advice for Tinder users: "No head shots, or group pictures. Use pictures that say a story about yourself. They do better."
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