It Pays to be Older, Wiser on Dating Apps

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Old” is new on dating apps," Georgia Wells writes for The Wall Street Journal. "After becoming popular among college students and young professionals, matchmaking startups such as Tinder Inc., happn SAS and The League App Inc. are now welcoming “older singles”—as in those in their late 30s and beyond. The reason? Their money."

The League, a dating app that focuses on “ambitious” young professionals, began letting people older than 40 sign up in May, a demographic it didn’t allow to join when it launched two years ago. It made the change because older users are much more likely to pay for online dating and it had amassed enough of them on a waiting list for them to have a good experience, said Chief Executive Amanda Bradford.

According to AudienceSCAN research, 6.7% of U.S. adults used an online dating site during the past 6 months, and 23.6% of them are aged 35 to 44.

The people who are going to be funding our development are over 38,” said Ms. Bradford, who is 31 years old. People 35 and older contribute 30% of the League’s revenue, though they make up only 20% of its users, she said.

People age 35 to 44 are more than twice as likely to pay for online dating as 18- to 24-​year-​olds, according to Pew Research Center and IBISWorld, an industry research firm.

Most dating sites earn the bulk of their revenue on membership fees. In the U.S., these recurring payments bring in more than 80% of the dating industry’s $2.6 billion in annual revenue, according to Brooks’s estimates.

Dating services can target older singles with more pocket change through radio spots. The AudienceSCAN survey revealed 25.2% of Online Dating Service Members listen to a local radio station online.

The League’s revenue jumped 10% when the company allowed users over 40 to purchase memberships, according to Bradford. She predicts attracting more of these older users could boost The League’s revenue by 35% this quarter.

"Happn, a Paris-​based dating app that matches people with others they have met in “real” life, originally targeted users 18 to 30. Recently, it has started seeking users over 30 and plans to ultimately charge older consumers more."

"Tinder, part of Match Group Inc., charges users 30 and older twice what it charges younger users for premium features. For $20 a month, users who are in that category are entitled to extra perks such as getting to see more potential matches."

During the past 6 months, 18.4% of Online Dating Service Members have used the internet via browser, tablet or mobile phone to read a newspaper article behind their paywall, the AudienceSCAN study reported. Dating services could market their apps to older members with native newspaper ads.

"With a broader range of users, dating apps have to develop barriers between users who don’t want to stumble across each other—college students and parents of college students, for example. As a result, most apps only connect users when their respective ages fall within their mutually specified ranges. On Tinder, 80% of users have their preferences set to only match with people within 10 years of their own age."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.