All posts in “Tinder”

Tinder becomes the top-grossing, non-game app in Q1 2019, ending Netflix’s reign

For the first time in years, Netflix is no longer the top grossing, non-game mobile app. Instead, that title now goes to dating app Tinder. The change in position is not surprising, given Netflix’s decision in December to stop paying the so-called “Apple tax.” That is, it no longer allows new users to sign up and subscribe to its service through its iOS application.

The change was said to cost Apple hundreds of millions in lost revenue per year, given that Netflix’s app had been the world’s top-earning, non-game app since Q4 2016. Now, instead of giving up its 15 to 30 percent cut of subscription revenue, new users have to sign up through Netflix’s website before they can use the app on mobile devices, including both iOS and Android. (Netflix had dropped in-app subscriptions on Android earlier.)

App store intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimated Netflix had earned $853 million in 2018 on the iOS App Store. A 30 percent cut would have been around $256 million. However, after the first year, subscription apps only have to pay out 15 percent to Apple. But Netflix had a special deal, according to John Gruber — it only had to pay 15 percent from the get-go.

In any event, it’s still a large sum. And one large enough to end Netflix’s reign at the top of the revenue charts.

In Q1 2019, Sensor Tower estimates Netflix pulled in $216.3 million globally, across both the Apple App Store and Google Play, down 15 percent quarter-over-quarter from $255.7 million in Q4 2018.

Meanwhile, Tinder’s revenue has climbed. In the first quarter, it saw revenue grow by 42 percent year-over-year, to reach $260.7 million, up from $183 million in Q1 2018.

That put it at the top, according to both Sensor Tower and App Annie’s estimates.

Beyond Tinder, Line and Line Manga, the rest of the top grossing, non-game apps in Q1 2019 were also focused on streaming, music and video, in Sensor Tower’s analysis. This included Tencent Video (No. 3), iQIYI (No. 4), YouTube (No. 5), Pandora (No. 6), Kwai (No. 7) and Youku (No. 10).

Meanwhile, the top downloaded, non-game apps in the quarter were largely those focused on social media, messaging and video. This included, in order: WhatsApp, Messenger, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, SHAREit, YouTube, LIKE Video, Netflix and Snapchat.

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TikTok, notably, has held onto its No. 3 position, having grown its new users 70 percent year-over-year, by adding 188 million in Q1. The growth was driven by India, where 88.6 million new users joined the app, compared with “just” 13.2 million in the U.S. — or 181 percent year-over-year growth.

To date, Sensor Tower has seen the app installed more than 1.1 billion times. (But keep in mind that’s not total users — many people install it on multiple devices. Nor is it monthly active users. On that front, the app has 500 million monthly actives as of the end of its third quarter 2018.)

TikTok also did well on the revenue side thanks to in-app purchases, though not well enough to start ranking in the top charts. User spending was 222 percent higher in Q1 2019 versus Q1 2018, reaching an estimated $18.9 million worldwide.

Overall, Apple’s App Store accounted for 64 percent of revenue in Q1, with consumer spending reaching $12.4 billion compared to Google Play’s $7.1 billion. New app downloads slowed on iOS in Q1, decreasing 4.7 percent year-over-year, to 7.4 billion, while Google Play downloads grew 18.8 percent to 20.7 billion.

Snapchat will power Stories & ads in other apps

Snapchat’s found an answer to the revenue problem stemming from its halted growth: it will show its ads in other apps with the launch of Snapchat Ad Kit and the Snapchat Audience Network. And rather than watching as other apps spin up their own knock-off versions of its camera and Stories, it will let apps like Tinder and Houseparty host Stories inside their own products that users can share to from the Snapchat camera with Stories Kit. They’ll both be launching later this year, and developers interested in monetization and engagement help can apply for access.

Snapchat debuted the big new additions to its Snap Kit at its first-ever press event in Los Angeles, the Snap Partner Summit where it also announced a new augmented reality utility platform called Scan. Over 200 apps have already integrated the privacy-safe Snap Kit that lets users login to other apps with Snapchat, bring their Bitmoji, view Our Stories content, and share stickers back to Snapchat.

But later this year, developers will be able to earn money off of Snap Kit with Ad Kit. Developers will integrate Snapchat’s SDK, and then Snap’s advertisers will be able to extend their ad buys to reach both Snapchat users and non-users in other apps. Snapchat will split the ad revenue with developers, but refused to hint at what the divide will be, as it’s still gauging developer interest. The move is straight out of Facebook’s playbook, essentially copying the functionality and name of Facebook’s Audience Network.

There are still big questions about exactly how Snapchat will reach and track ad views of non-users, and how it will be able to provide brands with the analytics they need while maintaining user privacy. But simply by making Snapchat’s somewhat proprietary vertical vdieo ad units reusable elsewhere, it could prove it has a scale to be worth advertisers’ time. The lack of scale has often scared buyers away from Snapchat. But now Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says that “In the United States, Snapchat now reaches nearly 75 percent of all 13-34 year-olds, and we reach 90 percent of 13-24 year-olds. In fact, we reach more 13-24 year-olds than Facebook or Instagram in the United States, the UK, France, Canada, and Australia.”

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To keep those users engaged even outside of Snapchat, it’s adding App Stories through Story Kit. Snapchat users will see an option to share to integrated apps after they create a photo or video. Those Stories will then appear in custom places in other apps. You’ll see Snaps injected alongside people’s photos when you’re browsing potential matches in Tinder. You can see what friends on group chat social network Houseparty are doing when they not on the app. And you can see video recommendations from explorers on AdventureAide.

Snap also has some other fun new integrations and big name partnerships. Bitmoji Kit will bring your personalized avatar off your phone and onto FitBit’s smart watches and Venmo transactions. Netflix will let you share preview images (but not trailers) from its shows to your Snapchat Story. A new publisher sharing button for the web will let you share articles from the Washington Post and others to your Story.

By colonizing other apps with its experience, Snapchat decreases the need for them to copy it. Instead they get the original, and a lot less development work. And the platform makes your Snapchat account more valuable around the web. These integrations might not grow Snapchat too much, but it could help it keep its existing users happy and squeeze more cash out of them.

Tinder says it’s introducing height verification. If only.

Statistics don’t lie. According to Tinder, most guys who state 5’10” as their height on Tinder profiles are actually 5’6″. This is just plain unfair to dudes who are actually 5’10” tall, and Tinder is determined to put a stop to it. 

The company has launched a new feature called the Height Verification Badge (HVB), essentially requiring all users to state their actual height (AH) instead of dream height (DH) on profiles. 

The verification process is simple: All users will have to upload a screenshot of them standing next to any commercial building. Tinder will then verify it (it’s a little known fact that Tinder keeps a database with exact heights of all buildings in existence), and make sure it matches your input height. 

Image: Tinder

The new feature has been announced on March 29, which is just one day before March 30,  which is just one day before March 31, which is just one day before April 1 AKA April Fools’ Day. Tinder says that HVB is coming “soon” to a phone near you. We’ll believe it when we see it. 

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Tinder launches a Spring Break mode

Tinder, the dating app company which, as of late, has been more fully embracing its status as the preferred hook-up app of choice for the younger generation, is today launching a new feature designed for its college-aged Tinder U users: Spring Break mode. The feature will allow students to swipe through potential matches before heading out to their Spring Break destination.

Here’s how it works. From March 4 through March 31, 2019, Spring Break mode will go live in Tinder offering 20 popular destinations, including Cabo, Lake Havasu, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego and others. To opt in, Tinder U users will need to look for the Spring Break card while swiping.

When they see it, they can then select their Spring Break destination to see who’s going. This destination will then be shown to potential matches through a badge on their profiles.

The idea, says Tinder, was inspired by trends the company was already seeing in product usage during this time frame, when there would be huge upticks in some cities and locations. For example, South Padre Island experienced a 100x increase in activity compared to the previous month last March; Panama City saw a 10x increase; Destin Beach a 6x increase; and both Cabo San Lucas and Lake Havasu saw a 2x increase.

In addition to using its own data from March 2018, Tinder also consulted with its Tinder U users about which destinations to include.

“Spring Break, like Tinder, is a staple for many college students across the country,” said Jenny Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinder, in a statement. “We’ve historically seen huge upticks in Tinder usage during Spring Break in these destinations, and we are excited to give users the unique experience to connect before they pack their bags,” she said.

The new feature is one of several ways that Tinder is focusing on its more casual use case, as of late. Last November, the company told investors during its Q3 earnings that it would begin marketing the app as a way to enjoy the “single lifestyle” – that is, catering to a younger demographic’s demand for wanting to date around while in their 20’s and not ready to settle down.

Tinder began an online publication, Swipe Life, and is running related advertising campaigns.

For years, Tinder had tried to downplay the app’s more casual nature, but it’s now able to change course due to its acquisition of dating app Hinge. Similarly aimed at younger users and millennials, Hinge is focused on creating relationships. That frees up Tinder to refocus on what it does best: quick matches.

Tinder parent Match Group had hinted at its plans for Tinder U, during its latest earnings call earlier this month.

“In 2019, we are planning to solidify our leadership position among college students by expanding Tinder U to cover even more schools throughout the U.S. while also launching Tinder U in select international markets,” said Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg. “We’re also expanding marketing through our on campus brand ambassadors and social media influencers. Expect to see more events and marketing tied to the school social calendar such as Rivalry Week and Spring Break,” she noted.

Dating apps face questions over age checks after report exposes child abuse

The UK government has said it could legislate to require age verification checks on users of dating apps, following an investigation into underage use of dating apps published by the Sunday Times yesterday.

The newspaper found more than 30 cases of child rape have been investigated by police related to use of dating apps including Grindr and Tinder since 2015. It reports that one 13-year-old boy with a profile on the Grindr app was raped or abused by at least 21 men. 

The Sunday Times also found 60 further instances of child sex offences related to the use of online dating services — including grooming, kidnapping and violent assault, according to the BBC, which covered the report.

The youngest victim is reported to have been just eight years old. The newspaper obtaining the data via freedom of information requests to UK police forces.

Responding to the Sunday Times’ investigation, a Tinder spokesperson told the BBC it uses automated and manual tools, and spends “millions of dollars annually”, to prevent and remove underage users and other inappropriate behaviour, saying it does not want minors on the platform.

Grindr also reacting to the report, providing the Times with a statement saying: “Any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behaviour is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service. Our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove improper underage use of our app.”

We’ve also reached out to the companies with additional questions.

The UK’s secretary of state for digital, media, culture and sport (DCMS), Jeremy Wright, dubbed the newspaper’s investigation “truly shocking”, describing it as further evidence that “online tech firms must do more to protect children”.

He also suggested the government could expand forthcoming age verification checks for accessing pornography to include dating apps — saying he would write to the dating app companies to ask “what measures they have in place to keep children safe from harm, including verifying their age”.

“If I’m not satisfied with their response, I reserve the right to take further action,” he added.

Age verification checks for viewing online porn are due to come into force in the UK in April, as part of the Digital Economy Act.

Those age checks, which are clearly not without controversy given the huge privacy considerations of creating a database of adult identities linked to porn viewing habits, have also been driven by concern about children’s exposure to graphic content online.

Last year the UK government committed to legislating on social media safety too, although it has yet to set out the detail of its policy plans. But a white paper is due imminently.

A parliamentary committee which reported last week urged the government to put a legal ‘duty of care’ on platforms to protect minors.

It also called for more robust systems for age verification. So it remains at least a possibility that some types of social media content could be age-gated in the country in future.

Last month the BBC reported on the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who killed herself in 2017 after being exposed to self-harm imagery on the platform.

Following the report, Instagram’s boss met with Wright and the UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, to discuss concerns about the impact of suicide-related content circulating on the platform.

After the meeting Instagram announced it would ban graphic images of self-harm last week.

Earlier the same week the company responded to the public outcry over the story by saying it would no longer allow suicide related content to be promoted via its recommendation algorithms or surfaced via hashtags.

Also last week, the government’s chief medical advisors called for a code of conduct for social media platforms to protect vulnerable users.

The medical experts also called for greater transparency from platform giants to support public interest-based research into the potential mental health impacts of their platforms.