Such rivals seem to be masking that terror by expressing enthusiasm for the move or raising concerns about whether Facebook can be trusted with such personal data following the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Dating companies have always recognised Facebook as a competitor of sorts. Arguably, it has been in the dating industry since Marc Zuckerberg added "Relationship Status" to the profile settings. There is also a great deal of anecdotal and empirical evidence of people who developed or rekindled a romantic relationship on Facebook.
Somehow, those stories are actually less surprising than those of people meeting on online dating platforms. But perhaps more fundamentally, digital dating services already use Facebook: Tinder, Bumble and Happn use Facebook Connect and data to provide their services. Integrations like those have shown Facebook more than a thing or two about the dating industry. That's why the announcement of a dedicated Facebook dating service is justifiably unnerving the dating industry.
The Guardian's Soulmates is probably the most successful of the mainstream UK publishers, but the Evening Standard, the Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Mirror all provide dating services through white label dating providers.
There's also all the smaller sites supporting particular communities, characteristics and niche interests.
Facebook joins many people together via their niche interests — their hobbies, interests and charactertistics. Their market entry poses a threat to all of these players. But "Senator, we sell ads"? Considering Mark Zuckerburg's "Senator, we sell ads," explanation for Facebook's ability to provide services for free, it is surprising that a Facebook spokesperson told Re: Code that ads won't appear next to profiles and users' dating data won't be used to target them with ads on other Facebook properties.
The Motley Fool suggests that the dating service doesn't need to generate revenue independently. It will support the advertising business, albeit indirectly. It may not be planned now, but that's not to say it won't appear later.
Another great advantage for Facebook is that it won't have to spend as much money as competitors in trying to attract users to its dating services. Facebook Dating already has its users' subscription data, profile data, interest and behavioural data — and importantly their everyday photos. What's more, since dating will be an anciliary service to the main Facebook service, it won't face anywhere near the same level of subscriber churn that pure play dating services suffer.
That advantage comes from the real strength of Facebook's dating service: Perhaps that's one way that they'll be able to avoid exchanges of naked photos, as the images used for the dating profile pictures will be the same as the mainstream profile pictures.
People don't generally display naked pictures to their friends, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews who make up their Facebook social network nowadays. How to be a player Facebook's market entry will change the rules of the digital dating game. To be a player, requires the following: It's notable that the large dating sites have already started diversifying into complementary services.
Match offers advertising, events and short breaks holidays. There is an opportunity to deliver premium content, advertising , education, events, travel, retail services and more in a complementary manner that will keep consumers returning to the business. National news brands are offering dating services, recruitment services, education and training courses, bookshops, events, holidays and even financial services.
All of this data could be used to provide better services to subscribers as well as to support each area of the business. The vast majority of both dating and mainstream digital publishers offering these complementary services keep their incredibly valuable data in separate silos. That's a huge missed opportunity. What's more they're often wasting money buying audience data from third parties to enable them to offer certain services, most notably for targeting advertising, even though they already have incredibly rich and relevant user data in another part of their business.
If all that data is effectively consolidated into a single data platform, they could build unified data profiles in much the same way as Facebook.
What's more, using this data as seed data for machine learning technologies, they can build incredibly detailed and accurate profiles of users that haven't even subscribed to a single service. Subscribers share their passions, favourite locations, work, education, appearance, family status, salary bracket as well as their age, gender and more. The right data partnerships enhance brand positions and develop a strong niche market which is extremely appealing to consumers and brands seeking to communicate with the resultant audiences.
However, data alliances pose numerous technical and compliance challenges. Publishers need to collect and share data in a GDPR compliant fashion , ensuring appropriate consents.
They also need good technology to make the data consolidation process simple, ensuring the traceablity of the data source, and processing it in a GDPR compliant fashion. They also need raw access to the data to be able to gain meaningful insight from the data and put it to use. However, numerous independent data studies show the accuracy of predictions of personality traits, political affiliation and ethnicity based on Facebook's collection and processing of data.
The success of dating companies' numerous matching systems have come into question numerous times. In January , the UK's Advertising Standards Authority even ruled that eHarmony's matching system didn't offer users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love. Dating providers need to assess whether their current tech stack is up to the competition Facebook now poses. They need to investigate new data platforms that are up to the challenge. If they use effective AI they can add the equivalent of millions of data scientist man hours to their data team.
Machine learning technologies can match, even predict, the level of interest that one person will have in another person, an article, a service or an ad. Dating services need to adopt these technologies now, as Facebook is far ahead of them in this area. It took just five years for Facebook to go from college dorm room project to overtaking its main social media competitors.
Publishers of personals advertising and dedicated dating services need to up their game immediately. You can follow her on Twitter.