Reaching New Audiences with LGBTQIA+ Dating App Ads

Dating apps have become one of the most popular ways for people to meet and mingle, and more recently, ripe for advertisers looking for a new way to reach specific targets. So, when researching creative new avenues to reach our client’s target audience of gay men, Online Optimism turned to the world of dating apps. 

As their platforms have evolved, many dating apps have begun offering advertising services. However, in researching specific dating apps, we were unable to find thorough marketing studies on how to create campaigns through the apps nor any of the results they garnered. While dating apps are now part of the social landscape, for the advertiser wanting to use them and use them well, there is a scarcity of information. Additionally, dating apps have become extremely niche and siloed when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community. So, when planning our campaign targeting gay men, we had access to a small amount of data because of the size of the LGBTQIA+-specific dating app market.

After advertising on gay dating apps for the better part of a year, we wanted to shed some light on our experiences and share our impressions of the LGBTQIA+ dating app advertising scene. 

Where’s the Information?

The most glaring problem we encountered was that the information about the LGBTQIA+ audiences was so few and far between with almost no demographic information related to them, let alone information related to their dating app preferences and use habits. According to the Williams Institute, about 3-4.5% of Americans identify as LGBTQIA+. It seems like a small amount, but that is around 17.1 million people in the US. If you’re searching for advertising case studies on these apps, they’re almost impossible to find. Instead, you’ll see statistics regarding the behaviors of those on apps or just general notes on the app advertising world as a whole. Why is there not more information on LGBTQIA+ dating apps and their wide reach? Has it just not been studied, or is there a dearth of information?

Picking an App

Although 55% of LGBTQIA+ Americans say they have used a dating app, we weren’t able to find any information about which dating apps were the best to advertise on and why. Given our target demographic, we decided to try the popular gay dating apps Grindr and Jack’d, which have a collective 57 million members across more than 190 countries.

The world of dating apps is expansive and covers many segments of the American population. Online Optimism went to the two top recommended gay dating apps – Grindr and Jack’d. However, there are a plethora of other dating apps you may want to consider advertising such as:

It’s worth noting that advertising spend on the apps listed above is done through Match Media Group, which requires an advertising spend of at least $25,000 per media mix. That is why we went with Grindr and Jack’d – because Grindr has a self-service platform that you could pay on a CPC basis and Jack’d (owned by Scruff) had a flat-rate pricing system with more affordable rates for our client. 

There are plenty of other apps and placements within whichever ad network you are trying to reach, for example, Google Ads has a display audience for those in-market for dating services. However, we wanted to reach the most popular and prominent apps in the queer dating world. 

Final Impressions

  1. Know Your App – Placing ads on dating apps allows you to reach specific niche audiences, depending on which app you choose. So, make sure to do your homework beforehand and understand which audiences use certain dating apps.
  2. Prepare for Hiccups – In our experience, the back end of dating apps’ advertising platforms is not very robust. We encountered challenges throughout the entire in-app marketing experience. For example, the UI would not always agree with our creative, so we’d have to upload it multiple times.
  3. Work Through Functionality Issues 
    • Grindr: What were usually simple reports would sometimes take hours to generate on Grindr, and in order to get a full view all our data, we would likely have to download and manually piece together several campaigns’ reports. Plus, once we had a report, the metrics and views of it were severely lacking. Grindr did not provide totals for metrics within the UI, so we had to manually do it across multiple campaign report sheets, which made tracking campaign results and spend challenging.
    • Jack’d: It did not have an advertiser dashboard, but instead, Jack’d would email us our campaign’s results. We requested to receive results emails every week, and if we wanted campaign updates outside of our weekly email, we would have to reach out to Jack’d and ask for them. Ultimately, Jack’d’s reporting system lacked transparency and account executiveship. 
    • Both: Grindr and Jack’d did not have functions that allowed us to preview our ads on the app’s interface, so the only way our team or our client could see how our ads appeared to users was by actually using the dating app.
  4. Connect Analytics – The reporting features of Jack’d and Grindr were very basic, as they really only provided impression, click, and spend data. So, in order to understand the full impact of your dating app campaigns, you must connect Google Analytics to track user activity and conversions. 
  5. Always Optimize – Don’t limit your campaigns to a single ad size or creative concept. Since dating app advertising is relatively new, it’s best to test different creative combinations and optimize your campaigns based on the results.
  6. Don’t Know Where to Start? Give Jack’d a Shot – Despite its reporting issues, Jack’d was much easier, cheaper and led to better results for our client. Ultimately, we will continue with this platform.

What do the apps need for advertisers?

As mentioned above, dating apps’ advertising capabilities have lots left to optimize. Some improvements we would like to see are:
  • Business dashboards for real-time, in-app management and results.
  • Holistic reporting systems to measure success across multiple campaigns.
  • Ad preview functions to visualize creative before it goes to market.
  • Faster and more robust report generation and download times.

want to launch a dating app campaign?

Contact Online Optimism today to learn more about how our Digital Ads team can help you create dating app campaigns!