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Cannes 2015: Swipe right: Sean Rad decodes how romance makes big businesses rethink @Tinder

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Cannes 2015: Swipe right: Sean Rad decodes how romance makes big businesses rethink @Tinder

Sean Rad, Founder and President of Tinder, the dating app that has suddenly become the talking point among millenials worldwide, took centrestage on the inaugural day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015 to talk about romance marrying business via the app and what’s in it for the advertiser.

At a session titled ‘Swipe right for success: Lessons on rethinking everything, from Tinder’, where Rad was in conversation with Caroline Daniel of the Financial Times, UK, he explained how Tinder draws on technology and its matrixes to map the human experience in the game of dating, to come up with insights that are invaluable for brands.

“Tinder started just two years ago, based on the idea that meeting people is a fundamental human need. But chances are that you could walk up to talk to a person and get rejected, or you could be interrupting a conversation they are having... Tinder is to avoid all those misconnections, to use tech to make connecting easier,” Rad said, answering a question on whether there is a romantic story behind its inception. He had amazing statistics to share – that 8 billion matches have been made by Tinder which is being used in 196 countries, with 300 matches a second; and the number of people swiping on it is an average of 16,000 a second, with users spending around 11 minutes a day on Tinder. “As a company, to operate on that scale is fascinating, the audience is so diverse and global,” Rad added.

Talking about Tinder as a platform for brands to target millenials, Rad said many brands are going to Tinder to discover content. Tinder’s double opt-in system, in which both parties must express interest in order to communicate, encourages users to continue swiping - the more they swipe, the more chance of getting lucky with their matches. This results in it being a high traffic platform, making it a great environment for advertisers. In fact, brands create profiles on Tinder, but it is up to the user whether to allow them to interact or not because of the double opt-in system. In fact, brands are launching exclusive content on Tinder, giving users opportunities like attending private screenings of the latest movie. Tinder’s wealth of demographic and anthropological insights based on statistics gathered from users is highly valued by brands, Rad said.

“We have nailed four of the hottest things in tech - social discovery, gamification, location and messaging – in Tinder,” Rad said, adding that efforts are on to develop the product with innovation buckets to take it to the next level. “Our USP is speed (vis a vis other dating apps and websites) – if you don’t deliver content at the rate at which people consume them, you risk being left behind.”

Asked about tips to better one’s prospects on Tinder, Rad said, “One, be real, be yourself. Two, look into people’s pictures, find something about them, understand what they are trying to tell. And finally, be aware.”


“It was a good interview, and both well prepared as such. Advertising for the millennial will need to be more disruptive to be impactful,” observed Sunil Lulla, Chairman & Managing Director of Grey Group India, who was at the session.

Madhukar Kamath, ‎Group CEO and MD at DDB Mudra Group, India, thought 8 billion matches made by Tinder since its launch so far is impressive, but treaded with caution when asked if he would advise brands to advertise on it. “The success of Tinder is remarkable. Brands have always sought means to connect with consumers. It is worthwhile to study how the app’s double opt-in facility and its scope can be leveraged by brands,” he said.

Another top name in the Indian ad world, a diehard romantic who refused to be named, said, “Advertising interrupts everything!” making his views clear about advertising on Tinder.


The Tinder app has users’ photos and basic information aligned with Facebook, based on which they are analysed – those who are most likely to be compatible based on parameters like location, interests and number of mutual friends are streamed into a list of matches. Based on the results, the app allows the user to anonymously like another user by swiping right or pass by swiping left on them. If two users like each other, it then results in a "match” and they are able to chat within the app.

Tinder, launched in 2012, won TechCrunch's Crunchie Award for ‘Best New Startup of 2013’.

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