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Dating apps, due to their proliferation and international popularity, have become key aggregators of intimate personal data. And yet we still know remarkably little about the corporate structures behind these apps, how economic value is attributed to and extracted from dating app data, and how these data are monetised.

In this article, we apply a political economy of communication approach to dating apps, and examine three cases. When applied to dating apps, a political economy approach directs our attention to the different stakeholders involved with controlling and commercialising applications for web-based and mobile devices, and, increasingly, the data that is generated through them.

In this article, we ask: What are the financial arrangements, business models, and cross-platform and other data-sharing deals that make dating apps so lucrative? Understanding these issues is vital if we are to make sense of the data markets that form around dating apps, and the implications of the monetisation of and trade in such highly Sex personals Rowan personal data. We conclude the article by reflecting on the limits of the political economy of communication approach for the study of dating apps, Sex personals Rowan how this approach can be usefully integrated with app and software studies more generally.

Numerous and widely used, dating apps collect and connect detailed personal data across platforms. Stehling et al. However, we still know remarkably little about the corporate structures behind these apps, how economic value is attributed to and extracted from dating app data, and how these data are monetised.

To address this gap, in this article we build on the political economy of communication approach and apply it to the data markets of dating apps. Using maximum variation purposive sampling, 12 we selected and examine three cases: Grindr; Match Group parent company of Tinder ; and, Bumble. The firms selected for these three cases cover the broad spectrum of the dating app market: Bumble is a small, early stage start-up; Grindr is an established, mid-sized operation with strong brand presence; and, Match Group is a large conglomerate and corporate heavyweight in the industry, with a long history operating and managing dating services.

These three have also been selected for the way that, while operating in the same space, each employs somewhat distinct business structures and revenue models. The political economy of communication is an established and well-tested approach 13 that has been applied not only to the analysis of regulated broadcast media industries, but has already also been partially adapted to addressing the distinctive challenges of studying search, 14 mobile, 15 locative, 16 and social media 17 industries.

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When applied to dating apps, a political economy approach directs our attention to the different stakeholders involved with controlling and commercialising applications for web-based and mobile devices, how these are being affected by dynamically changing forces, and what data is generated through them and how it is used and to what ends.

In adopting this approach, we ask: What structural factors shape the dating app industry? What are the business structures and revenue models that make dating apps so lucrative?

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Exploring these issues is vital if we are to make better Sex personals Rowan of the data markets and the economic logics that form around dating apps and social media more broadly, 19 and if we are to add to established understanding of the platform affordances 20 and cross-platform and other data-sharing arrangements that structure our use of these services, 21 and the specific algorithmic and software de decisions that underpin them.

It is not our intention in this article to develop detailed walkthroughs of Grindr, Bumble, or Match Group subsidiaries like Tinder. Rather, we focus on developing an of key strategic developments, corporate directions, and revenue-generation possibilities that each have pursued over the course of their operation, and that has relevance to the structures and dynamics of data markets.

To aid in this, and in examining the above issues, we draw on trade press reportage, financial reports, and other ancillary materials associated with the apps and publishers in question. As reliable corporate data are notoriously difficult to obtain, especially in the case of start-ups and privately-owned firms, trade papers in particular remain a vital resource for scholarly researchers interested in the political economic dimensions of the fast-moving field of networked media, 28 as well as everyday representations of them. Founded by Joel Simkhai, Grindr was launched on March 9, However, some indication of early and projected earnings did emerge as a result of documents released as part of the Ashley Madison hacking scandal.

From our side, we provide the technology platform, moderation, service-side, a whole bunch of things. The whole infrastructure. From their side, they provide marketing. They market [to] users, they bring the users. However, for a host of reasons including poor revenue performanceSimkhai sold Blendr to Badoo in and refocused his attention on Grindr. Analyzing and data mining chat Sex personals Rowan revealed that […] users were already starting to use Grindr in new ways [beyond hook-ups] — interacting with people around them, asking for travel and accommodation advice, and widely socializing.

A similar pattern of usage was also revealed through subscription preferences. During the s, USA Networks began divesting itself of its broadcasting holdings, and refocused itself around the further acquisition of online assets.

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It invested heavily in online travel, buying TripAdvisor and Expedia, and a diverse array of other assets, such as reference firm Lexico the parent company of Dictionary. Most ificantly in the context of this article is that, by the s, IAC had also established itself as the major player in online dating.

It purchased Match. In addition, Chemistry.

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Match Group presently holds a portfolio of over 45 dating-related brands. The most prominent of these are its flagship products: Tinder, Match. All of these investments have established Match Group as the dominant firm in online and mobile dating. Jiyoung Cha has suggested that, for social media firms, there are limited means by which revenue can be generated from end-user data, with each option tied to platform affordances and the core competencies of each firm.

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What is interesting about them, though, is the implementation of business strategy and the subtle differentiation in revenue generation between services, including between services that are held by the same parent company.

In the context of the dating app industry, Match Group remains the dominant example of a dating app related holding company, yet there are many others competing with it, including Berlin-based Spark Networks, as well as Global Personals, The Meet Group, and Badoo which is increasingly taking on holding company like qualities through, as noted earlier, its many purchases and investments. The company was founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in December While each of these three firms are at different stages of development Grindr and Match Group are established businesses, Bumble is a growth-phase start-upand while each operate at substantially different scales Grindr and Bumble are stand-alone businesses, Match Group is a large, publicly listed parent companythere are clear consistencies between them when it comes to revenue Sex personals Rowan all of them rely in some way in the monetisation of user data.

Finally, analysis of these cases also reveals clear and increased global concentration in business ownership of dating app services, mirroring trends in social media ownership more broadly. Understanding these issues — particularly the evident further concentration in ownership — is vital if we are to make sense of the data markets that form around dating apps, and the implications of the monetisation of and trade in such highly sensitive personal data.

This approach builds on a history of media and communications scholarship, which has connected the concentration of media ownership with an undermining of political and cultural diversity within both news and entertainment media. Concentration of legacy media ownership has been critically associated with editorial interference, and the homogenisation of content, which is seen to impact on both media producers and media audiences.

For instance, despite insistence to the contrary by some scholars, political economy of communication is less well adapted as a means of understanding cultural factors, especially the complicated, diverse, multiple and intersecting data cultures that form around and shape dating app engagement and use. These critical approaches are also not necessarily well-equipped for making sense of the apparent opacity of social media and search platform interfaces. Albarran, Alan B. The Social Media Industries.

New York: Routledge, Andrejevic, Mark. Ang, Katerina. Anwar, Mehak. Bary, Emily. Bell, Karissa. Bennett, Lindsday. Berg, Madeline. Accessed Sex personals Rowan 1, Bowman, Jeremy. Blair, Olivia. Brooks, Mark. Blendr Merged with Badoo.

Brustein, Joshua. Bucher, Taina. If … Then: Algorithmic Power and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Bucher, Taina, and Anne Helmond. London: Sage, Bushee, Brian J. Core, Wayne Guay, and Sophia J. Cha, Jiyoung. Albarran, Cook, James. Corrigan, Thomas F. David, Gaby, and Carolina Cambre. Dorofeeva, Julia. Dowling, Savannah. Eytan, Delan. Fellizar, Kristine. Ferris, Lindsay, and Stefanie Duguay. Frith, Jordan. Smartphones as Locative Media. Cambridge: Polity, Ge, Celine. Gerlitz, Carolin, and Anne Helmond.

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Goldsmith, Ben. Grothaus, Michael. Hall, Mitchell. Hardy, Jonathan. Critical Political Economy of the Media. London: Routledge, Helmond, Anne. Horwitz, Josh. Jhally, Sut. Jhally, Sut, and Bill Livant. Kincaid, Jason. Liao, Shannon. August 18, Licoppe, Christian.

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Light, Ben. Disconnecting with Social Networking Sites. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, Liu, Tingting.

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Ma, Si. Main, Sami.

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Data cultures of mobile dating and hook-up apps: Emerging issues for critical social science research