Is Video The Next Big Thing In Online Dating?

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Before online dating there was video dating, and as the viral clip below proves, it could be just as awkward and cringe-worthy as any Tinder swipe session.

Take one look at a montage of hapless suitors dressed in their retro best talking about being “an executive by day and a wild man by night” and their career in toxic waste management, and it’s easy to see why video dating fell out of fashion. So out of fashion, in fact, that while video has exploded across almost all major social media platforms, it has yet to make a triumphant return to the dating mainstream.

Startups have tried for decades to update video dating for modern singles with little success, but thanks to new features from some of the industry’s most reputable names, the tide could finally be poised to turn.

Badoo launched live video chat in August 2017. The company framed the feature as an opportunity to “get a real feel for someone” without committing to a real-life rendezvous, allowing users to ‘meet’ safely before a date and providing an extra layer of protection against catfishing.

Hinge and Bumble also flirted with video features in 2017. Hinge added a video option to accompany users’ profile pictures, while Bumble added Snapchat-esque 10-second disappearing clips dubbed BumbleVID.

More recently, Tinder announced Loops, two-second looping videos designed to help users express themselves. Brian Norgard, Chief Product Officer at Tinder, expressed hope that the clips “will lead to even more matches and conversations” and said the company “look[s] forward to seeing how our users creatively adopt the feature.”

Video is set to be an important piece of the puzzle for Match Group, Tinder’s parent company, going forward. Match Group Chief Executive Mandy Ginsberg sat down with SectorWatch in April to discuss video’s potential in the online dating industry.

“You get to know so much more about a person from video,” Ginsberg said. “You hear their voice, their sense of humor, and you can get a better sense of who they are.”

But not all video ventures are success stories. Zoosk’s Lively adopted video from the get-go, allowing users to upload photos and videos that could be turned into story collages. Less than two years later, Zoosk is relaunching the app in an entirely new form that capitalizes on the current popularity of trivia game apps like HQ Trivia.

“The previous version of Lively’s group video chat app was fun, but people didn’t know how to connect and relate to one another using the video format,” reports TechCrunch. “It felt awkward to start conversations, with no reason to be there besides wanting to date.”

With new competition on the horizon from Facebook, dating apps may find themselves scrambling to solidify their place in a changing market. Whether video will be a key component in their approach remains to be seen.