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Love to see Jan Koum at WhatsApp take the rest of the messaging industry to task (Tech Crunch) regarding active vs. total number of users. Messaging apps are throwing around claims of 100 million, 300 million users, but how many of them are actually engaged with these services on a daily/monthly basis?

Sites like Match and eHarmony talk about 20 million profiles, yet they only have a few million active monthly users (logged in once in the last 30 days).

When I hear 20 million profiles I immediately think of how stale the majority of those profiles are (and a fantastic opportunity to turn stale inactive members back into active subscribers). Hearing a site has 20 million profiles is a negative!

Jan got tired of the hype and published that WhatsApp has 400 million monthly active users. See also Andreessen and Mixpanel Call for an End to “Bullshit Metrics” and I couldn’t agree more.

The dating industry has always hid behind Bullshit Metrics and it’s something I’ve written about many times.

The problem is, once one company reports a bullshit metric — like how many registered users it has — its competitors don’t want to appear smaller by reporting something real — like how many monthly active users it has. So the bullshit metric shaming needs to be a broader movement for it to work.

YES! I’m not holding my breath that the dating industry will start comparing apples to apples, but I do like Match CEO Sam Yagan’s idea of other more relevant metrics such as # of emails sent per month, although he said that before he was at Match- OKCupid has always been the most open dating site when it comes to metrics and stats. POF is pretty open about sharing certain data as well.

At some point, 4,000 dating sites out-bidding each other for eyeballs is going to come to a stalemate. Why not leverage engagement metrics to entice new users and prove you are a better site?

There is a business case for being quiet about core metrics, but there is also a lot of non-obfuscated data that can be used for marketing purposes, but yet the industry rarely shares more than, “We have lots of hot singles in your area”, which means they don’t.

Not many dating sites have the stomach to be honest, but one can hope that the industry will evolve to include more realistic and usable metrics to onboard new members. Otherwise as a whole it’s overpaying customer acquisition costs and doing singles a disservice.