30/01/2015 08:02 GMT | Updated 28/03/2015 05:59 GMT

What Swiping Right Can Teach Us About Mobile Creativity

Online dating has revolutionised romance for the 21st century. Tinder, one of the most popular dating apps, has seen rapid growth, amassing nearly 50 million users in just two years. Despite negative media coverage and accusations that the app places too much emphasis on users' appearances and proximity to one another, Tinder shows no signs of slowing down. The app's success is not based on algorithms and might shed light on a new approach to mobile advertising.

Swipe right or swipe left

The Tinder app simplifies the online match-finding experience. After locating potential matches based on basic criteria such as location, Tinder offers up one potential match at a time, leaving the user to decide whether to swipe right if interested, or left if not. The concept is simple and relies heavily on the user's desire to seek attractive matches. Like a mobile ad, users are forced to decide who is suitable based on visual cues alone, and this emphasis on the law of attraction appears to hold true in the digital world as well.

It may seem crude to judge a potential partner within seconds of viewing their profile photo, but the reality is our brains make subconscious judgments about our surroundings all the time based mostly on how visually appealing they are to us: the elegant restaurant you pick over another, the trendy shop you enter, the beautiful man or woman you sit next to on the tube. Unknowingly, we make a surprising number of decisions based on our own vanity. It is simply human nature to judge a book by its cover.

Mobile love matching

'Trust us, we have a proprietary algorithm that will help you find the ideal audience willing to buy your product." In the advertising world, this story is touted all too often. Here's the truth: a secret 'love match' formula does not exist in mobile advertising, yet like a dating website, advertisers will claim to have developed black-box methods for consumer targeting. Successful mobile advertising relies on reaching the intended audience with a memorable image at a relevant moment, much like Tinder.

We have already learned that slim mobile banners might work for app-install campaigns, but these small ads rarely work well for brands. Consumers need high-impact, engaging content to grab their attention. As Tinder demonstrates in spades, a great image can spark a powerful first impression. Showing an audience a visually appealing ad may not lead them immediately down the purchase funnel, but it could sway them to "swipe right" as it were (tapping the ad in this case). To employ this method, brands need to think visually, emphasising creativity, with the aim of designing beautiful images to create memorable experiences on mobile devices - ones that will make consumers do a double take and maybe even buy that brand a drink.

It is clear that there is much we can learn from Tinder when it comes to creativity in advertising. To engage audiences, mobile ads should instantly grab the consumer's attention, and Tinder has shown that we naturally gravitate towards visually appealing people (or in the case of ads, brands). At the root of it, we are visual beings who react best to stimulating visual content, whether that means swiping right, or tapping on an engaging ad.

Cameron Hulett is the Executive Director EMEA at Undertone