So if Facebook’s dating feature isn’t massive, why keep it around?
In response to these questions, a Facebook spokesperson sent a statement over email saying that the platform is designed to help people find “meaningful relationships” and that they’re “excited about how it’s performing and the feedback we’ve been getting from people who have found love through the platform.”
Zuckerberg suggested during its earnings call that Facebook Dating could eventually become a driving force for why people return to the app and engage with it
In the year and a half since its rollout in the States, Facebook Dating has now made its way to other parts of the world, including, most recently, to 32 European countries in addition to the 20 it’s already in. The company also appears to have a deeper interest in augmenting the dating experience. Just this week, The Verge reported on an experimental Facebook app called Sparked, which sets users up on four-minute video speed dates. If Facebook Dating itself isn’t the eventual successful product, maybe there will be other options.
Analysts like Daniel Salmon at BMO Capital Markets are mostly concerned with Facebook revenue, though. That could easily change, however, depending on how many people start forking over their data in order to meet the love of their life.
“Any data that Facebook is getting on their audience enriches their profiles for ad targeting anywhere across their portfolios,” he says. “Any engagement is good engagement because any engagement creates data, and that can be used to improve the ad platform, even if you don’t have ads sitting there in front of people who are looking for dates.”
Because the company hasn’t built advertising into Dating or started charging for add-on functionality, the feature isn’t at a point where Salmon sees it as a meaningful part of the business
Idk why but I get infuriated every time Facebook Dating tries to recruit me. Let me be lonely on my own! pic.twitter/3AF0yiEejg
Although Facebook doesn’t, so far, ask specific prying questions a la OkCupid and other dating apps, it still asks for some information. It wants to know people’s heights, whether they have children, who they’re looking to date, and where they live. The app also asks for photos that can be uploaded to the profile. Plus, conversations can be pushed over to Messenger, giving Facebook way more data, including the images that are sent there, the precise location of the sender, their contacts, and their browsing history. (The company’s initial rollout to Europe was even stalled because Ireland’s Data Protection Commission “conducted an inspection” at Facebook’s Dublin offices and “gathered documentation” to learn more about the company’s intended data practices.)
Dating gives people who let their data become stagnant and might have stopped uploading photos to the app a reason to update, and Facebook gains better insight into how to target ads, which is the ultimate goal.
The company might never be forthcoming about how its dating efforts are going, but its ambitions are relatively clear. So long as it can get people to keep coming back to Facebook, whether it’s to see friends or find love, a product pays off.
Correction: This story initially said Daniel Salmon worked at BMO Group. The datingranking.net/web name is actually BMO Capital Markets. We regret the error.
This advertised Facebook data poses a variety of questions, though. For one, are these users active, or just the total number who have signed up? For places like New York City, does the number only count people who live in the five boroughs, or does it include neighboring places like Westchester County, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey? And how wide are the demographics of these users? If all users tend to be in one age group, another age group likely won’t have a good experience using it.