Would You Pay To Promote Yourself On OkCupid?

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Heads up, OkCupid users: the game is about to change on everybody's favorite free dating site.

The most observant OkCupid users may have already noticed a new feature has quietly appeared on their profiles. Click on your username and a drop-down menu appears with a new option: Promote Me. For an extra $2 fee, users who want a little extra attention on the site can promote themselves to fellow OkCupidites.

The feature is so new that OkCupid hasn't even released a formal press release, but word on the street is the site plans to formalize and publicize the new addition in the next few weeks. The question is: How will the introduction of a paid promotion feature alter the otherwise very democratic experience on OkCupid?

OkCupid co-founder and president Christian Rudder promises that little will change. "The idea is that we're showing you to the same people we would over time, but in a very condensed way," he told BuzzFeed. "We still only show you to good matches (high match percentage, nearby) - not just randoms." In other words, promoted profiles will always be people you would have been matched with eventually, they're just coming sooner than they might have without the paid promotion.

So how does paid promotion work? What the $2 fee actually gets you is 10 minutes of enhanced visibility. For those 10 minutes, your promoted profile is pushed to the front of the crowd in all areas of the site, like QuickMatch and "People You Might Like." Promoted profiles are not marked in any way, making them indistinguishable from other profiles. In tests of the new feature, BuzzFeed says, OkCupid found that those 10 minutes of promoted time gave users 30 times more exposure than they would have otherwise received in the same amount of time.

The jury is out on whether OkCupid's new strategy will work. Some fear that paid promotions will clutter the site's pages with less attractive users whose profiles aren't getting any attention. Others say that the exact opposite will happen. Since attractive users find it easier to get dates, supporters say, they stand to gain the most from increased exposure and will find the feature most useful.

Whichever direction the new feature goes, Promote Me is pretty much guaranteed to be a popular addition to the site. Rudder told BuzzFeed that over 2,500 people paid to promote themselves in the first 24 hours after launch, and that was before most OkCupid members were even aware Promote Me existed.