Match Group Inc. has introduced matchmakers to its namesake dating app, offering a small human filter to the romantic suggestions its algorithm generates, the company said.
A 50-member team—who have been trained as dating coaches by the company—will select two profiles for participating members each week, drawing from the same algorithmically-generated pool the service already provides.
They will be guided by members’ answers to four questions on, for instance, what a person would change about their dating life, what sort of person a user gravitates toward, and others. The service costs $4.99 a week.
The company created the feature because, for some singles, the pandemic has added a degree of urgency to finding a long-term relationship, said Amarnath Thombre, chief executive of Match Group Americas.
“People have had enough time to reflect on what really matters to me, what makes me happy,” Mr. Thombre said. “They’re also being a little more clear on who they want to be.”
The experts can narrow down the candidate pool, bringing forward people who might be more compatible, said Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert at Match.
“It is really just going in and highlighting people and helping them to not feel as overwhelmed or frustrated,” she said.
Match lets users set up profiles, look at other profiles and chat with the system’s “top picks” for them at no cost, but it charges subscription fees before members can communicate with the full pool of users. Further optional add-ons include sending unlimited “likes” to other users and the ability to boost one’s profile in other members’ search results.
Dating services are also competing to enhance the experiences they provide. Match added free video calls in April 2020 as social-distancing made in-person dating harder. Tinder and Hinge, both of which are also owned by Match Group, have added new features as well, such as the new Explore section on Tinder that matches people by their interests.
Many dating apps have seen an increase in users during the pandemic. Match Group reported 16.3 million paying subscribers in the third quarter, up from 14 million a year earlier. Company revenue totaled $802 million in the last quarter, an increase from $640 million the year prior.
Algorithms can solve many issues, but can’t always decipher context clues between people’s preferences in a dating app, said Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism Inc., an ad agency.
“We’re not going to solely rely on algorithms—we want a human touch to help bring that human element and encourage that intimacy even further,” he said.
Traditional matchmaking services are costly, starting in the thousands of dollars for just a few months. But these services are worth it to customers who don’t have the time to sort through candidates on apps, said Tammy Shaklee, founder and matchmaker of He’s For Me LLC, which operates H4M Matching, an LGBTQ matchmaking service.
Matchmakers will contact people only if they think they have identified a potential lifelong partner—not just another date, Ms. Shaklee said.
The new Match feature helps humanize online dating, and mirrors things many single people already do, like asking others for advice on whom to date, said Nick Notas, a dating coach for men at Eros Consulting Inc.
“The frustration, the loneliness, everything that goes into the online dating experience—it sometimes clouds your judgment, and it is hard to take a step back and look objectively at things,” Mr. Notas said.
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