Interview: Badoo’s CMO Talks Digital Wellbeing

Last week, Badoo crossed the 400 million user mark. The milestone comes after a 2018 in which the London-based dating giant vowed to put its users first, moving away from swiping and towards meaningful connections.

Chief Marketing Officer Gastón Tourn is spearheading the change, taking a stand to help revive the online dating category and putting an end to dating-app fatigue.

GDI sat down with Gastón to talk marketing and digital wellbeing ahead of the GDI London Dating Conference later this month.

Read the full interview here:

You see dating app fatigue as a major problem in the industry. What gives you that impression? Do you think it’s a new phenomenon?

GT: As a CMO, I have to put myself in the shoes of real users to understand what it is they want and are looking for in a dating app. Through this I found that most people using dating apps were bumping into the same problems; ghosting, endless swiping and matches rarely progressing to real life dates. It’s clear that people are experiencing some serious fatigue and are struggling to get exactly what they need from online dating. Badoo is looking to break that cycle and provide people with a more lifelike experience online, which in turn will lead to more genuine connections.

It is definitely a new phenomenon, but the good news is people now have a deeper understanding of their digital wellbeing today, than they did 3 years ago. There is this strong desire to break through the screen and meet face-to-face. For us, it’s now about getting our users offline and back into the traditional swing of dating – giving people the ability to go on dates with those they would otherwise never organically meet out in the real world.”

Do you see one clear solution, or several competing innovations? What route does Badoo plan to take to combat fatigue?

GT: Many brands operating in the dating space have almost treated it as a game; where people are left to feel disposable – it’s almost as if human-to-human connection is no longer considered important. There really has to be a shift in priorities.

Badoo is acknowledging that we have a key part to play in altering the current perception of online dating, through encouraging our own users to swipe with more integrity.

We’ve launched features like Badoo Live and Video Chat to help bring as much real life connections and spark to the app as possible. We found that 83% of people would feel more comfortable meeting someone in real life after speaking on video chat. With insights like this we are able to gain a deeper understanding of our users, and the kind of in-app experience they desire. In addition to this, we have also began hosting events that bring like minded singles together in the perfect dating environment.”

How have you found life in the dating industry so far? How does it compare to other sectors where you have worked?

GT: I love a challenge, and in Badoo I saw a very specific challenge, or more so an opportunity. I wanted to bring the knowledge and understanding that I gained from my previous experience into the dating space. Something I learned from Google is that if you focus on the user, all else will follow.

Badoo has a very unique company culture that is very similar to Google – that ‘anti-corporate’ environment where employee happiness is top priority. The differences I’ve noticed lie within the dating industry itself, there is a whole new set of quirks and challenges that I look forward to meeting each day.

The company also operates as a start-up giving me the opportunity to work cross-functionally with a variety of teams but with the budget of a big tech company… Which as you could imagine as CMO is the dream combination.”

How should dating apps approach marketing in a crowded space? What do they need to focus on getting right?

GT: Rather than focusing on the ‘what’ I like to look at the ‘why’. I truly believe that knowledge is power and that all brands should be using data-driven insights to fuel their marketing efforts. It’s also very important to go straight to the root and talk to your consumers. By understanding your users, you can stay ahead of trends and ultimately give people exactly what they want.”

Outside of the dating niche, what are the brands you admire most in terms of marketing and why?

GT: The brand I admire most outside of dating is Spotify. I love Spotify’s campaign that crunches user data in fun ways, and gives thanks for a ‘weird’ 2016. I think it’s brilliant how they use data to explore some of the most quirky and vulnerable situations that make us human. In their best ads, they find stories behind the numbers. Daniel Kahneman, the father of behavioural economics, once said: ‘No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.’ I particularly love Spotify’s ad that says, ‘Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day: What did you do?’ It’d also be a fantastic ad for a dating app. Rather than numbers, Spotify focuses on the stories, the relationships and the difficulties. They bring numbers to the micro level, because once we’re there, we can connect emotionally.”

Visit the Badoo website here.