Data is power, with one key stipulation. One has to be able to dissect the numbers, make them relevant and utilize them to their advantage. Otherwise, they’re merely numbers.
Christian Rudder, president and co-founder of the dating website OkCupid, entertainingly relayed how he uses data to cultivate his site as the keynote speaker at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference.
“We were one of the first sites to take a big collection of various small interactions and build a business on it,” says Rudder, whose AIM session was dubbed Dataclysm.
Rudder and his team have taken boatloads of data from social media sites and competing dating sites to help transform OkCupid into a data powerhouse without the benefit of traditional advertising.
Big Data, as it is now referred, has helped OkCupid fuse the openness of Match.com with the rigidity of eHarmony. It has fostered the innovative idea to constantly mix up search results and to optimize the results in unconventional ways.
One metric Rudder relayed was a graph detailing the dating-age preferences of men and women. Women aged 20 to 50 most commonly crave a man in close proximity to their age. Men 20-50 amost desire women ages 20-24.
But that isn’t only who these women and men like. OkCupid has developed a digital spreadsheet rating from 1 to 10 how each gender perceives a particular age to help generate hot and cold zones.
Rudder has utilized statistical data to optimize the client experience in multiple additional ways, including matching prospects with others who were rated similarly on the site’s Quickmatch appearance survey. That ensures, for instance, that women rated a perfect 5 on the survey don’t get inundated with an inbox full of fruitless date requests from 1s.
“If someone tells you everyone on OkCupid is not hot, you can laugh to yourselves,” Rudder said. “Because that means they were probably rated the same way.”
Although Rudder does well with big data, the process isn’t always seamless. Oftentimes deciphering the true value of the data is a multi-tiered procedure.
“Honestly we do tinker,” Rudder said. “Trial and error is a way of life. Stuff fails all the time. Most of what you see that works is probably the eighth or ninth attempt at something.”