What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: When you give away your product, how do you make money?

Sam Yagan:  OKCupid’s model is almost entirely based on advertising, which is the way most online media is monetized these days, whether it’s the news or whether it’s sports and we think online dating is going to evolve in the exact same way.  In fact, we think that the paid subscription model is somewhat antiquated and doesn’t really flow with what the people on the Web, especially young people on the Web, are expecting from a media property.

I think for marketplace businesses, and when you think about online dating, it’s not a social network.  It’s not a place where you go to talk to people you already know, it’s a place you go to interact with someone you’ve never met before.  And so when you think about the marketplace businesses and what makes an efficient marketplace, you want to make entry and exit into that marketplace as efficient as possible. 

So putting up a pay wall and keeping people out of your marketplace is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.  The sort of the most efficient way for online dating marketplace to evolve, and in fact, any marketplace to evolve is to have one really big market where people can enter and exit as they please, where people have really advanced search, sort, and filtering technology.  Look at classifieds, look at auctions in each of those industries you’ve got eBay, you’ve got Craig’s List that have dominated the entire vertical and they’ve done so by making their marketplace as efficient as possible. 

In an ideal world, we would charge people a $10,000 success fee when they get married, or a $5,000 success fee if they enter into a relationship with someone. Unfortunately, that’s a little bit hard to track although someday maybe we’ll get around to that.  So yeah, we do have that challenge, but there is no financial transaction that we’re in the middle of.  So in the monetization sense, we’re like any other media property. 

However, we can collect a disproportionate amount of data.  We can ask our users questions in the name of getting them a better date that practically no other property could ask.  We can as about people’s smoking preferences, we could ask about how many hours of video games you play.  We can ask whether you want to have kids.  We can ask all kinds of questions about your personal life and your consumption habits and your preferences that you would not tell to any other site on the Web, but that you’ll gladly tell us in exchange for better dates.

What we have found is that users understand the kind of quid pro quo at OkCupid, which is that if you give us data, we give you dates—and, oh by the way, we’re going to show you some more relevant ads at the same time.  We’re very careful about personally identifiable information and not using anything that is inappropriate for targeting an ad.  But if we know that you like to play video games, we’re going to show you a video game ads.  And what we have found is that users actually prefer ads that are well targeted.  You know, especially in this political season, the thing that upsets people the most is seeing an ad for a candidate they don’t like.  That’s what gets people the most angry. 

So if it’s based on someone’s preferences then I would love for someone to show me a BMW ad; that would make me very happy. 

Recorded on November 4, 2010
Interviewed by Teddy Sherrill

Directed & Produced by Jonathan Fowler

 

Tear Down That Pay Wall

Newsletter: Share: