Tinder’s First Advertisement Is One Big Experiment

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Gillmor Gang LIVE 04.03.15

This week, Tinder unveiled its first ad in the form of a video promoting Budweiser’s next #Whatever, USA campaign. The video ad will show up for Tinder users the next time they open the app, but much like Instagram’s foray into advertising, Tinder ensures that rolling out advertising on the platform will go slow.

Within a few swipes, users will land on Bud Light’s profile with a special auto-playing video, asking users to enter into the next #UpForWhatever contest. #WhateverUSA is a campaign that has already worked once for Bud Light, where the brand builds a random party town for a week of ‘spontaneous fun’ with contest winners and celebrities in attendance.

With the new Bud Light ad on Tinder, Users can swipe out of the video immediately, with the same animations for left-swipes (Pass) and right-swipes (Like), which will be recorded by Tinder for the brand.

“If you think about the way Tinder works, with ‘like’ and ‘pass’, we have a really amazing signal for advertisers,” said Brian Norgard, VP of Advertising at Tinder. “We’re being careful to respect our core experience for our users, which ensures that we can give that data back to our brands in a really valuable way. The response so far has been off the charts. You won’t believe how many people will swipe right if the content is high quality.”

If a user chooses to watch the video instead of swiping out — there’s a button on the top corner of the video to “Enter Now” — users can learn about the different ways to enter the #UpForWhatever contest. They can sing favorite song into a Bud Light, toast ‘a match’, or swap sunglasses with someone, and then share a photo or video of the experience on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtags #UpForWhatever and #Enter.

Tinder is using this first advertising campaign as a way to test the waters, using a number of different video lengths across the course of the campaign.

“The product is very early, and we’re just starting to learn how our users are reacting to this format,” said Sean Rad, cofounder and president at Tinder. “Based on that we’ll make decisions on where we want to take the product or if we even want to proceed. Like everything else we do, we care a lot about the user experience and will protect a good balance between enjoying that uninterrupted Tinder experience with asking you to hear something from a sponsor or advertiser.”

Rad and Norgard were both very clear about the fact that things will go slow at first, with Rad telling AdWeek that “it’s going to be a long time until [advertisements are] a consistent part of your experience.” They also told me that the engagement has been overwhelming and surprising.

“We’ve learned that when people are in the mindset of discovery, they’re willing to discover a variety of content, from people to videos, so when a user is on Tinder that’s actually an appropriate time to see a word from an advertiser,” said Rad.

“We’re investing heavily in relevance, whether it’s leveraging the data we have with these signals our users give us, or using that data to do a better job of matching our users,” added Norgard.

It only makes sense that Bud Light and Tinder would be a match, so to speak. Bud Light wants to be associated with off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment parties, and Tinder is a platform where strangers meet each other in spontaneous, off-the-cuff situations. With the deal, Bud Light gets a young, spontaneous crowd of potential candidates who are #UpForWhatever, but Tinder actually gives users the chance to take action and go to an actual party instead of swiping endlessly in their sweatpants.

Tinder has recently partnered with various brands (Jason Derulo and The Mindy Project, specifically) over the past few months, giving them a ‘promoted profile’ that is blasted to the entire Tinder network, untethered by location or gender. Matching with these profiles can lead to exclusive content or access.

That said, Rad said that this type of partnership is more about being open to working with relevant brands then about building another type of advertising.

Tinder recently launched Tinder Plus, offering premium features for an age-based monthly subscription, which will also offer an ad-free experience.