New #Match Group #CEO wants to make #online dating #friendlier for #women

Mandy Ginsberg says there is ‘pent-up demand for marketing and products that actually speak to what women’s needs are’

Mandy Ginsberg will celebrate her 12th anniversary working for what would become Match Group Inc. on Valentine’s Day. After recently moving up to chief executive of the $10 billion company, she hopes to give single women everywhere a Valentine’s gift: Friendlier online-dating experiences.

Ginsberg took the helm at Match MTCH, +5.83% last month, and revealed to MarketWatch in a Tuesday interview that Tinder will soon roll out a feature that lets women choose who makes the first move on that app. She also pointed to other efforts that the company hopes will make its online-dating platforms more female-friendly, such as a new campaign for OkCupid that emphasizes shared hobbies over hookups.

As a female tech CEO, Ginsberg is in the minority, but she’s focused on making sure that women feel empowered and don’t experience harassment on the company’s dating products.

“I’ve been here so long and we’ve talked so much about women and women’s experiences, but that should manifest itself in more than conference rooms and discussions,” she said.

Ginsberg previously served as the CEO of Match North America and is now diving into some of the company’s other businesses, including Plenty of Fish, Meetic and Tinder. Match Group shares have been on a tear over the past year, with the stock up 127% compared with a 14% gain for the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.34% . Shares hit a new high Tuesday, with investors seemingly more optimistic about continued momentum for recently launched paid features on Tinder, as well as signs of improvement at some older brands.

MarketWatch recently caught up with Ginsberg to learn about her vision for the company and how Match plans to generate more enthusiasm for online dating. Excerpts of the conversation follow.

MarketWatch: What does the change at Tinder reflect about Match’s efforts to appeal more to women?
Ginsberg: Every time we talk about product, we talk about the female experience, especially when it comes to heterosexual couples because you have to solve for women’s experiences in order to have a robust, positive ecosystem.

We’ve done this on a couple different businesses, but we haven’t done it with Tinder. Women now will have a choice, which I think is very empowering. They can choose if they want to start the conversation first or if they want someone else to start the conversation first. Often women don’t really want the pressure of kicking off the conversation, but if they want it, that’s great. Giving people the choice versus telling people how to engage is the big difference. We think it’s going to be well-received and frankly, if it’s not, we’ll be able to watch to see if people like it and use it.

For OkCupid, we started a campaign called “DT____,” so “down to farmer’s market,” “down to fiesta,” etc. The idea is that women don’t want “DTF,” so we’re twisting that on its ear and making that an own-able concept. OkCupid has seen significant increases in new women users after launches in New York, Austin, and Portland. For women, there was a 20% increase in new users, which shows you that there’s pent-up demand for marketing and products that actually speak to what women’s needs are.

You’ve talked about enhancing the experience for Tinder users after they’ve made a match. Why, and how is this working?
People would swipe, but then the post-match experience was pretty flat. The question is, for these dormant matches that are sort of this flat screen, how do we make them come alive? How do we show either things that people posted in social media or things that they have done to update their profiles? You might’ve swiped on them four days ago, but didn’t really get a sense of who they were.

We’re showing you what they like to do, what they’re passionate about. It could be music from Spotify or a picture from their last trip. We’ve experimented with putting more rich content within those feeds and tested this in two or three markets. We’ve seen people spend more time on the app and seen increased activity with those dormant matches. We talked a lot about how Tinder was this swiping machine, but this has the ability to bring that to life. It’s still early on, but if we have increased success in not just time-on-app, but also in getting people to strike up conversation, we’ll roll it out.

Is there concern that if you make the product too good, people will quickly find love and stop paying?
From the moment I started, people said that unlike Netflix NFLX, +2.99% , where people never leave, this is a business that’s a little more episodic. On Tinder, people are younger. When you’re 19, you’re not going to find the love of your life — you might, but that doesn’t always happen. The life cycle’s very different, and relationships don’t always work out. If you’ve had a success, you’re going to come back and start another one. And then the best marketing in the world is from people who have seen success. It used to be that people were embarrassed, but now in the New York Times wedding section, they’re thanking us during their wedding vows. People aren’t embarrassed anymore, and they’re our best marketing vehicle out there.

Tinder has mainly grown through word of mouth, but Match has talked about doing some marketing internationally. What’s your strategy to grow outside the U.S.?
If you look at big markets like India, for example, there’s a fast-growing young population and increased penetration of smartphones. What’s happening in that particular culture is the stigma was high, so as the stigma erodes, there’s more opportunity. Tinder has done really well in India with very little focus or energy, but we still think there’s a lot of opportunity in the market. We really haven’t spent much time on PR. It’s almost like what we saw in the U.S. Twelve years ago, when I first started, around 2% of relationships started on an app and now over a third of relationships do. Now, the No. 1 way people meet by a huge majority is through an app. Norms are changing. What you’ve seen in the last 10 years, start to think about that in other parts of the world.

How are you trying to increase activity on the property with your new automated coaching tool?
The sweet spot of Match is ages 35 to 50. More than half of people on that app are second-time-arounders, previously married. So what’ll happen is a lot of people who are single parents or getting back on the market after being in a relationship for a long period of time don’t know what to do. We have the ability to be a kind of wingwoman and walk men and women through how to start a profile. A lot of women don’t like to make the first move, but we know what if you put more in you’re going to get more out of it. It’s kind of like a dieting app that asks if you had your water or did a run today. Think about how that translates to dating, which would be saying that you should be putting yourself out there and doing these things that are good for you.