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Mainstream dating: there is enough money for everyone

Mainstream dating

Anna Ruzanova

My name is Anna. I have been working with mobile apps for more than 10 years: I started in 2010 in a social network that was popular in my region, and I was managing the development of several major dating projects. Recently, I have noticed that mainstream dating is getting very little attention from affiliates.

In fact, this vertical is an endless flow of opportunities; it is not only profitable, but also very interesting to work with. First, people will never get tired of communication, which means that the niche will always be relevant. Second, more and more often, fresh apps appear on the market that use new user engagement techniques and show a great conversion. These apps are ready to work with affiliates and share their profits.

First, let us have a look at how and how much the dating services earn, and then we will move on to what opportunities affiliates have in this vertical.

Mainstream dating: apps revenue

Mainstream dating services as well as social apps (photo ratings, games with dating elements, and others) have made it into the top grossing apps ranking several times.

Tinder consistently tops the list in terms of revenue in stores, earning $1.2 billion last year and $65.3 million in May 2020 alone.

The Bumble app, where women take the first step, has become one of Tinder's main competitors — in May 2020, the total profit of this service was $16 million. It is quite interesting to watch their confrontation, considering the scandalous history of the establishment of Bumble — it was created by a former Tinder employee who sued her boss .

You can notice many products from Match Group in the top dating apps ranking: Pairs, OKCupid, Hinge, and Plenty Of Fish. The company's big annual report showed that, in 2019, their revenue from all services was $2.1 billion. The top ranking lines now include the Chinese service Tantan with 4 million dollars in revenue in May and MeetMe with 3 million dollars in revenue for the same period.

Top dating apps, May 2020, the source

The revenues of the giant services are really impressive. Based on my working experience with a well-known dating app, each user engaged pays off in two months on average, and their LTV worldwide is approximately $4.45.

Where the money comes from: 3 types of dating apps monetization

Historically, or over the past 15 years, 3 main branches of monetization have been formed in dating: buying privileges and access, advertising and offers as well as virtual gifts and tokens of attention for the dialog partner.

  1. Monetization via privileges purchase

Privileges are usually Premium, Gold, or VIP statuses that can be purchased by subscription or on a temporary basis. Based on my experience, I can say that this is the tasty morsel for dating apps: on average, the share of revenue from this In App monetization ranges from 70% to 90%.

I assume that this is a matter of human psychology: the user wants to see the profile and photo of the person they like faster, especially if they know that this person has already shown interest in them. This privilege is provided for a short time and is a consumable in a way, or it is unlocked by subscription after linking a card. In addition, this purchase removes all restrictions and annoying factors that prevent people from using the full range of the service.

However, this method of monetization has some pitfalls for dating services creators. The privileges should be interesting but reasonable. For example, this is not the best case – limiting online conversation – because communication is the most powerful trigger that encourages people to use any dating app.

  1. Monetization via in-app advertising

Next in terms of revenue in dating are advertising and offers. This trend was formed in 2017 and, before that, the share of advertising was 5-7%, and it was not the most interesting source of income. However, with the advent of various advertising networks as well as new methods to display advertising, the situation began to change.

Affiliate offers take up a large share of in-app advertising: various subscription services are offered to women (e.g. horoscopes or fitness assistants) and discount coupons and GPS maps are offered to men.

  1. Monetization via virtual gifts

Gifts and tokens of attention rank third in the share of income. As a rule, the price of these virtual gifts is low because users do not consider them valuable. It is noteworthy that users are only interested in animations and tokens of attention the first few times, and so service developers have to constantly update them and add new ones to keep users engaged.

With the advent of faster Internet on mobile devices, exclusive short videos have become popular along with static images and animation. People are willing to watch videos that convey their mood and wishes.

"New dating", which was successfully launched no more than a year and a half ago, and is being launched now, is shifted to advertising monetization. Nevertheless, this tendency is present in the entire mobile app market now — hypercasuals have changed our view of advertising monetization.

But subscriptions and direct monetization are not going anywhere. It is dating itself that will change. I assume that it will go in a more gaming direction and will combine swiping photos with some simple game actions.

How affiliates can earn money on dating apps

We have examined how and how much the apps themselves earn. Let us see why this niche might be interesting for affiliates. There are several key points here.

The largest services get 30-40% of their organic traffic, their brands have already proven themselves, and users are willing to search for them in search engines and stores. However, they have a budget for expansion, and they can afford large expenses. 

Accordingly, when working under the partner program, they set very small restrictions for caps, which is very good for affiliates that can deliver high volumes of traffic.

It is important to note that the giant apps have been working under private contracts with advertising networks for a long time, and not every publisher can become their partner. However, if you have your own large media platform, you should definitely contact the representatives of top services and talk to them. For example, Badoo previously offered its partners a RevShare payment model – 40-75% of the revenue, depending on the quality and volume of traffic.

However, the mainstream dating app market is not limited to the top 10 services, which is the beauty of it. In many partner programs, you can easily find great products that are pleasant and interesting to work with. This can be classic apps for a wide range of users as well as targeted apps, e.g. dating services for gamers, for people over 50, for people of certain faiths, etc. This has become a real trend nowadays.

I see a number of advantages of working with these dating apps for affiliates:

  1. Advertisers of fresh apps are extremely interested in good advertising traffic, which is vital for them to gain a critical mass of users. Therefore, they allocate their budget to attract traffic and work with affiliates.
  2. Affiliates can find a service for almost every GEO, as the selection of countries is very broad. I recommend working not only with traditional TIER 1 countries but also with Latin America, especially Mexico — there is a dating boom in the region now, and users are willing to respond to new products.
  3. Advertisers know exactly what kind of users they need. They provide guides on the target audience profile as well as sets of ready-made materials (banners, videos, and other creatives).


As a rule, app installations are paid – the amount of the payouts depends on the KPI (the simpler the goal, the lower the payout) and GEO. On average, they are $1-$2.50 for the market. RevShare is also common. Partners can usually count on about 20% of the profit that the user brought.

Here are just a few examples of mainstream dating services and CPA networks where you can find them. Please note that these are the minimum and maximum payouts for the simplest and most complex goals, in which most often the affiliates are recommended to work on average payouts of $1-$2.50.

Offer namePayoutsCPA networks
be2from $0.07 CPL to $225 PPSCrakRevenue, Cpamatica, Alfaleads, MaxBounty, Paysale and other networks
Jdate$2CPLCpamatica, MaxBounty, Paysale and other networks
Singles50from $0.63 to $16.31 for registrationCrakRevenue, Cpamatica, Alfaleads, MaxBounty, Paysale and other networks


I would like to share my life hack for sources. Advertisers value traffic from social networks — those with an older audience — because they are more solvent. I highly recommend paying attention to local popular social networks, and not limiting yourself to Facebook only. For example, in Latin America, which I mentioned previously, the Taringa! network is very popular, which has about 30 million registered users. And in the CIS countries, ok.ru is considered the social network for the older generation — 71 million Russians have accounts there.

If you can attract users from there to a new, fast-growing product, this can be an extremely promising direction. However, more traditional traffic sources (Facebook, context, Push) are also effective.

Focusing on dating

It is interesting to watch the market of mainstream dating — it is living and growing, there are more and more new worthy apps that are interested in good traffic, and they are ready to share their profits with partners. In addition, because of the pandemic, creative developers might create something quite unusual in the near future, such as an online cafe for lovers or its analog.

This massive and diverse niche is somewhat lacking attention from affiliates, but it shouldn’t be! Here, they will find a large selection of GEOs, good advertiser budgets, and ready-made guidelines for the target audience. And, of course, the demand in this vertical will never disappear because communication between people will never end.The Flow Media Telegram Channel