Monetization, churn and how to stand out in the mobile dating space

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY we had Robyn Exton of Her, Dawoon Kang of Coffee Meets Bagel and Whitney Wolfe of Bumble discuss the latest trends in the mobile dating space.

Two of the apps, Her and Bumble, both let you use their platform to find friendship as well as relationships. Whitney Wolfe of Bumble said that the feature has led to tremendous engagement, and is even showing signs of becoming bigger than the actual dating portion of Bumble. She also said that the company is about to unveil a group-based match feature to bring together friend groups.

When asked about generating revenue, Dawoon Kang of Coffee Meets Bagel described a new feature that lets daters pay for an A/B test to figure out which photo they should use on their dating profiles.

Coffee Meets Bagel is the only one of the three apps that currently has a monetization aspect. But, Wolfe noted that Bumble may soon introduce additional paid features, but will never charge for the basic dating and safety functionality already baked into the app.

The discussion then turned to in-app advertisements, which Tinder recently rolled out. Wolfe noted that she doesn’t think advertisements are the right way to monetize for Bumble right now, and reiterated that the company will instead focus on monetizing through new features.

In terms of how to compete against the behemoth that is Tinder, all three companies said the key is nuanced features designed to benefit their app’s specific group of users, whether that is women, same-sex daters or people looking for friendship. Specifically, Robyn Exton of Her described how her app has benefited from only having to study one gender group, which really allowed them to tailor the app to their target audience.

Moderator and TechCrunch writer Sarah Buhr then asked the three how they deal with the churn aspect of dating apps. Dang from Coffee Meets Bagel said that churn (especially positive churn that results from a successful match) isn’t an issue, since most will spread the word of the app’s success in helping them find a match.

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