Technology has completely transformed the way of life. Today, everything has gone digital, including dating. In the pre-technology era, it was beyond anyone’s comprehension to imagine a possibility of meeting your potential partner miles away, probably in a different part of the world, while sitting in the comfort of your home.
The concept of online dating has gained quite some momentum in western countries. Apps like Badoo, Tinder, Happn, Bumble and OkCupid have been gaining a lot of traction across the globe. Online dating has begun making its foray into the Indian market a while ago, but is yet to go full-throttle. This signals a great growth opportunity for these apps. With a total digital population of 462 million, and the markets yet to be explored, the prospects look quite promising. The good news doesn't end here. The mobile penetration in the country has been on the rise, and is currently at 430 million, as per a recent report by Statista. Further, with the availability of high-speed data at affordable rates and the upcoming roll-out of technologies like 5G, the time is ripe for these apps to further consolidate their efforts in the Indian markets.
Now, considering the cultural aspects, India is a country with traditional restrictions, deeply-rooted class differences, low parental acceptance for online dating, inclination towards pre-arranged marriages, and so on. Thus, the Indian mindset was traditionally that of resistance to the concept of dating apps. However, with the rapidly changing lifestyles and blurring cultural boundaries, this scenario is changing. There is an increasing acceptance for these apps amongst the Indian communities.
The foray of dating apps into the Indian markets and their increasing popularity is indeed a welcome news for advertisers as well. These apps provide a great avenue for the advertisers to access a different and niche audience segment. A variety of ads can be delivered to these audience segments depending upon their gender, age, liking and preferences, and the respective phase of life they are in. To accomplish this, the unique targeting capabilities of techniques like programmatic advertising can be leveraged to the fullest. Programmatic direct or real-time bidding (RTB) models can be used to seamlessly target the audiences on these apps, and marketers can use the first-party data, in combination with the third-party data from data management platforms (DMPs) to deliver highly accurate ads, programmatically. Programmatic advertising can indeed be looked at as a primary source of income, with the subscription-based model becoming a secondary source. Also, programmatic advertising will make it more convenient for the apps to sell their inventories, as opposed to the hassle involved with direct sales.
Another advantage for advertisers is the opportunity to reach out to the audiences that are unique to these apps and are difficult to find elsewhere on the web. These would typically include singles looking out for short-term or long-term relationships or friendships. Some apps also offer services exclusively to the LGBT community. Dating apps are a great avenue to reach out to these segments.
In addition, it is important to consider the fact that Indians are still exploring the concept of dating apps. They might not want to invest in paid subscriptions yet. Hence, relying solely on the subscription-based model as a revenue-generating stream may not be in the best interest of an app. And, with the Indian market looking highly conducive for the online dating apps, multiple players offering similar services are trying to get a piece of the pie. There is naturally an increase in the competition. This is another reason why a subscription-based revenue model might not give the best results.
In such a situation, it is only logical that these apps explore alternate sources of income. Programmatic advertising can help them generate this alternate revenue. Programmatic advertising automates the entire media buying process by employing codes and algorithms. Its unique targeting ability enables advertisers to reach the right audience, at the right time and under the right context. Also, by showing relevant ads, it helps publishers to provide a better browsing experience to the users. Programmatic advertising has already taken the West by storm. This is true especially for the USA, where programmatic advertising accounts for more than 80 per cent of the display ad spend.
Thus, one may conclude that programmatic advertising engenders a win-win situation for advertisers, publishers and also the users. It offers another great avenue for advertisers to reach out to their audiences, is the perfect way for publishers to have those extra dollars flowing in, and also improves the users’ browsing experience.
(The author is founder and CEO, Vertoz.)