Dating app Tinder is tiptoeing further into the ad business, selling programmatic advertising using Google’s ad tech.
Tinder will sell the ads on Google’s ad server, where it will manage and measure campaigns to maximize revenue. Advertisers will be able to buy impressions from the ad server at a fixed price with programmatic guaranteed deals or buy from private marketplaces. Tinder is testing the partnership now and plans to roll it out by the end of the year, said Peter Foster, gm of global advertising and brand solutions at Tinder’s owner, Match Media Group.
The move follows Tinder’s deal with Facebook last year to sells ads on the social network’s in-app ad network. Unlike Google or Facebook, Match Media Group’s business isn’t ad-driven — around 3 percent of revenue came from ads in the quarter ending June 30. The rest came from areas such as paid subscriptions that give users access to features to improve their chances of getting a date.
As with Facebook, Tinder’s deal with Google isn’t about monetizing every impression it can, and it’s watching how user behavior changes depending on the ad frequency.
“For almost any company that isn’t Google or Facebook, you’re going to have impressions that you don’t have demand for,” said Foster. “We think about both those platforms as excellent partners that provide ways to reach advertisers that we won’t be able to get on our own because we don’t have that scale.”
Google, more so than Facebook, could emerge as the main route for those impressions on the third-party side. Facebook is poised to launch its own dating service on its app, which could have ramifications for its deal with Tinder.
Despite direct connections to two of the largest online media owners, Tinder won’t depend on either for ad sales, said Foster.
“We’re not using Google as third-party demand source, but we will use their tech to allow us to transact directly with marketers in those two manners,” he said. “It’s an alternative way to transact with us but is similar to how our insertion order business runs today.”
Match Media Group has been slow to monetize its apps due to the technological complexities of rendering multiple rich media native formats at any given time.
Tinder’s partnership with Facebook was the app’s first push into programmatic when it launched in February. Insertion orders still account for the bulk of its ad revenue, which is the same for Match Media Group’s other dating services like “PlentyOfFish” and “OkCupid.” Programmatic is on the rise across all those brands, however, said Foster who expects more demand to follow the arrival of a more robust app ecosystem for the group over the next 12 months.
“As more of our properties move to in-app models, we will try to create some consistency so that we can start to do ad deals that stretch across all those brands,” said Foster. “Tinder is the bright shiny objective among ad buyers, so it’s where we spend a lot of time thinking, but there are plans to introduce new formats for ‘PlentyofFish’ and ‘OkCupid,’ which have large significant audiences that are slightly different from Tinder.”
In-app advertising is set to jump triple in value from $72 billion in 2016 to $201 billion in 2021, per App Annie.
“One of the big focuses for us is on creating different buying channels and making sure that we have those pipes in place for advertisers who want to transact in a modern way,” said Foster.