Trend Of The Week: Digital Connections

In 2009 Grindr launched. 2013 brought us Tinder. By 2014 Bumble had stepped onto the scene, turning outdated gender troupes on their head. Soon ‘swiping right’ and left were forever sealed in our vernacular. Early critics accosted dating apps for creating a superficial, hook-up culture, reducing people to commodities that could be summoned like a delivery pizza. They were killing real love, the panicked commentators lamented. The tides have most certainly turned. According to a new study from Stanford University, most heterosexual couples are now meeting online. As online dating continues to solidify its place in the mainstream, platforms must reflect our evolving approach to relationships and facilitate new kinds of connections.

With choice and convenience addressed, people now want to harness the full power of technology for an optimal experience. One of the great dilemmas of dating is often people don’t know what they want. The applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be game-changing in this respect. Soon platforms may generate matches by analysing how long we look at certain profiles, the speed of our swipes, the content of our chats, or by looking for clues in the background—the shows we watch, the websites we visit, how much we exercise, and the kinds of photos we take. AIMM is an AI powered matchmaking service in its early stages. The app interviews you gradually through its voice assistant and then introduces you to candidates one at a time. There have even been a few brands that that promise results using DNA testing.

Video is starting to play a part in online dating. Hinge and Tinder now both allow users to incorporate short video clips as part of their profile. Last year, Bumble became the first major dating app to offer in-app video calls (or alternatively voice calls) between matches. The major appeal is that everything is mitigated by the app and no phone numbers need to be exchanged.

Many apps have added notable safety features, combatting inappropriate messages, lewd photos or using photo verification to prevent catfishing. At the same time the market is also taking steps to include more people. Apps like Her and Chappy have been designed to better serve the LGBTQ+ community, while Lumen launched in 2018 to bring more excitement to over 50s dating. Bumble’s entire platform is predicated on fostering a community of respect, equality, and kindness. Recognising the importance of healthy relationships in leading a happy life, Bumble has expanded its offering to foster non-romantic matches with Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz, In a similar vein, Peanut, uses the classic dating app swipe feature, but with the goal to connect like-minded women about motherhood.

Online dating is entering a time of expansion and fine-tuning. Importantly, it isn’t going anywhere. Some studies predict that by 2040, 70% of couples will meet online. Practically dating apps are a largely untapped advertising channel with opportunities for creative and relevant campaigns. However emotionally, as online dating replaces traditional introductions through family and friends, this suggests a consumer who is thinking bigger and who wants more agency. While our need for companionship is timeless, we are becoming more intentional about it and looking to employ the best tools at our disposal to find our people.