Big big love, how big data's influencing the future of the online dating scene

Romance and big data have a lot more in common than you might think. Though the world of tech and data may seem an odd place to uncover love, both online dating and big data work to personalise what a person or brand has to offer, matching and targeting it uniquely to appeal to that one special individual who'll want exactly what’s being advertised.

In many cases for both singles on the dating market and brands on the commercial one, achieving success – using big data to successfully reach the right individual or unique prospect - is the start of (hopefully) lifelong, trusted and better matched relationships, and could be the future for love and online dating.

Data set and match

A facilitator of the modern way of life, big data helps us on a daily basis in all kinds of areas, from retail to healthcare, finance and more. Data is not only relevant to advertisers and marketers however. With infinite uses, targeted information helps us live safer, healthier, more personalised lives - including our love lives - matching the perfect partner to the perfect person at the perfect time. After all, better optimised and analysed data means one in six of all US marriages now occur as a result of online dating.* 

What makes dating data big data?

Defining exactly what makes data ‘big’ data can be confusing.

For example if people simply visit dating sites and input information, this does not constitute big data. Big data is defined by the conjunction of three things; volume, velocity and variability.

From the original computer punch card dating-match systems which first came out in the 60’s,** to the comprehensive online dating sites we have today, the process of using data to pair people has become increasingly streamlined and effective. Higher percentages of people are generating data of volume, variety and velocity online; on dating and social sites and through apps (according to the article “Can Big Data +  Big Dating = True Love?” dating app use is growing faster than all other apps combined). As a result, the data created is allowing matchmaking services to target more accurately than ever before.

Regardless of platform, big data infrastructures already support dating sites and apps**, and make the analysis and management of voluminous data sets (terabytes of information according to eHarmony) possible. In the future, big data will likely play a more active role towards enhancing match accuracy right from the start of data collation, just as in marketing; using real time information about people, their unique background, hobbies and more from a variety of sources in addition to self-inputted information, social profile and mobile app data currently used.

Analysing our secret desires and enhancing profile accuracy

The ability to use data from a varied reach of sources as dating service consumers opt-in, will likely be key in furthering the relationship between big data and dating.

On dating sites users currently input the explicit features they prefer and state what they want to know when looking for a partner, say; commitment views, age, hobbies etc. (Profile creation works on the same principal. But often, our actions don’t quite match our words. For example you may have stated (and think) you’re a fan of pure reggae, but your iTunes history may speak differently. What if in future, purchasing data, on an opt-in basis, could be used to match you more accurately with others with similar tastes?

Analytics, as an informational facilitator already currently uses behavioural matching to similarly enhance accuracy. Users may have stated, and think they prefer brunettes but might actually click on more profiles of redheads without realising. It’s here that data really advances the way online dating works; analysing what you’re actually looking at, and what you're really looking for best match accuracy.

Helping the course of love run smooth

Ultimately, analysing just what makes people fall for each other is not an exact science, and compatibility on meeting is still the decider for many relationships. So while right now, data can’t quite predict results 100% accurately, it can give romance a helping hand. But give it time – and in a few years data may even be able to solve that.


*Data courtesy of Acxiom UK’s whitepaper ‘Searching For Balance In The Use Of Personal Data’

Other references 

**Referenced from the Smithsonian.com article – “How Big Data Has Changed Dating”





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Comment by James Franko on Tuesday

In these matters, everything is very individual, so of course, especially now online dating has reached a completely new level. For example, you can read these useful reviews of the best dating sites for bbws, which ultimately gives many people a real opportunity to meet a loved one.

Comment by Ron Wolf on October 23, 2013 at 3:26pm

Kudos for the open minded response. There certainly will be tons of interesting correlations, observations, & resulting actions. Some will lead to happy hook ups. New service offerings will abound. The pot will continue to boil.

Comment by Jed Mole on October 17, 2013 at 11:21pm

Good point there Ron, the quality of peoples dating choices is certainly one that creates debate amongst friends and family for sure! Giving those people a little bit of help in finding a suitable match is only the very beginning of that particular journey.

Comment by Ron Wolf on October 17, 2013 at 9:24am

Skeptical. Is the divorce rate dropping? More people finding each other online doesn't mean that people are making any better choices than they were before online dating. GIGO.

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