Guest Post: The Meet Group’s CEO and co-founder Geoff Cook on how video-streaming is fast becoming the new online dating model.
Last Thursday, Cook spoke at the GDI Los Angeles Dating Conference on the topic: “Video: The Future of Dating”. Stay tuned for highlights of the full event.
Livestreaming dating isn’t coming … it’s here. Throughout the world, the fastest growing dating apps are live video enabled. Despite MOMO rivalling the market cap of The Match Group, despite the rapid revenue growth of AZAR and MEET, despite the recent announcement of video launching on Badoo, there is a persistent and mistaken view that somehow livestreaming video doesn’t fit within dating—all evidence to the contrary.
The naysayers credit apps like Tinder for driving dramatic engagement. Tinder lets you search for dates all the time: from bed, on the toilet, at work—anywhere you can swipe, you can search for dates. But … or so the thinking goes, video dating is clunky. After all, you can’t livestream from the office without your boss noticing. What’s more, many people don’t want to livestream at all, and even those that do, don’t want to most of the time. They might feel the need to dress up, apply makeup, just as they would if they were going to a night club or a bar. All this is product friction and that friction, the naysayers conclude, mean video and dating don’t mesh.
The reality is livestreaming is ideally suited to the dating app. But to see why, you must see how video expands the dating category into social entertainment. The essence of social entertainment is viewer interaction with the broadcaster. I believe every traditional category of programming will come to have livestreaming analogues. MOMO, MEET, Badoo, AZAR, etc. we are all in the process of building the modern equivalent of The Dating Game or The Bachelor, only on a massive scale and where every viewer can be a contestant too.
Video makes everyone the star of their own dating reality show, and everyone wants to be a star.
Spare me your grandiose visions—the Tinder-lovers will say—but you can’t livestream on the toilet. And maybe that’s true, or at least, I wish it were true, but it misses the point. Livestreaming doesn’t cannibalize anything. For the dating app, livestreaming is a feature, and oh, what a complementary feature it is.
Livestreaming extends session length and keeps people engaged without cannibalizing core engagement. Our apps – LOVOO, MeetMe, Tagged, and Skout – have more than 20 million minutes of live video every day, and we have not experienced cannibalization of our core text-based chat. Instead, live video fills the product gaps.
It is well known that many dating apps skew male. There might be 2, 3, or even 4 males for every female. What’s more, male attention is spread highly unevenly, typically amidst a subset of females. The result is many dating app users—both male and female—feel they don’t get enough chats, enough interactions, enough human connection. And what do they feel instead, when they run out of chats, when no one seems to be interested in them, when they swipe and swipe and swipe with no effect?
Loneliness … the very thing they came to the dating app to cure, they feel more acutely.
The highest goal of any dating app is to put an end to loneliness, or at least to postpone it. Study after study show the centrality of human connection to our health and welfare. Reducing loneliness doesn’t just make us feel better, it makes us less likely to die.
And that is how livestreaming fits into dating.
Livestreaming provides feelings of connection and interaction at times when users need it the most, when they have no one to chat with and they don’t want to feel alone.
This is not the purview of the pathetic. We are all alone, just at different times. Nearly half of our users engage in live video every month, and 25% of them do it every day. Our research shows consistently that video reduces feelings of loneliness and increases feelings of entertainment, while improving our NPS score among viewers. What more can a product be asked to do?
The naysayers will continue to say nay. They will say: “How can anyone ever meet their spouse in a one-to-many live video setting?” The answer is dating apps should be more than utilities. Yes, it is noble to help a fellow human being find their spouse, but it is nobler still to help them find that meaningful connection AND reduce the loneliness they feel in the absence of it.
Livestreaming video makes dating apps entertainment platforms. That’s why livestreaming is the future of dating.
Rather than act as a utility, connecting users to each other and getting out of the way, dating apps must be more. They must reduce loneliness. They must entertain.
There is a reason the local, neighborhood bar has been an offline dating platform for centuries: it’s entertaining. You can hang out there and feel less lonely. There is more to a bar than the girl at the end of it, who may say yes or she may say no, but either way, there is a band playing, there is a game on the television, and there is a drink in your hand.
Dating apps need to be the bar, the good bar, the right bar for every person … the gay bar, the sports bar, the cocktail bar, the neighborhood bar. That’s the future of dating, and video enables it.
Visit The Meet Group’s website here.