Voice of the Customer
Customer feedback is a vital part of our decision-making process here at Grindr. Our Voice of the Customer program is one way that we stay connected to our customers and their feedback. On a regular basis, we pull qualitative and quantitative data from customer emails, content moderation reports, UserVoice, app reviews, social media, and more.
Of course, our customers are also a key stakeholder, so we want to share with you what we are hearing (and doing to respond) as well.
Low Quality Ads
At the end of March, we saw an increase in the amount of feedback about ads on Grindr, particularly about ads coming to the product from third-party ad networks. The cause of the issue was the result of our migration to a new programmatic ad platform (the old one was sold and shut down). In the early days of the new platform, a number of issues arose, and ad quality was really bad. We have made good progress to address these initial issues, but continue to tune the system to improve ad quality and reduce issues. We have seen a big drop in complaints in the past couple of weeks. That said, we will often show lower quality ads than you may be used to seeing in other apps.
Why is that? First, we make the majority of our revenue from premium subscriptions. But for our free users, we still need to generate enough revenue to pay for the core service. High quality ads rely on “targeting” (ie, providing a lot of data about a user to an advertiser to help them select the best ads to show). But, for more than two years we have pursued the highest data privacy standards for our users. The result is that instead of highly targeted ads, we can only offer highly “untargeted” ads. Only a small number of companies (generally gaming apps) will even bid to show an ad to us given the absence of even industry-basics data from Grindr, such as age, gender, interest or location.
We know low quality ads are frustrating and ugly. They also don’t generate much revenue. We are working on new ways to improve the quality of our free experience, including the quality of ads. But we remain fully committed to maintaining or even increasing our industry-leading privacy practices. In the meantime, if you spot an ad that is particularly problematic or causing performance issues, please let our support team know so we can investigate.
In the last two years, one way we worked to reduce the impact of ads on the user experience was to dramatically reduce the number of ads we show. In the last two years, we have reduced the total ads shown to customers by over 50%. We have moved or removed ads that appeared at times that bothered you the most. Most recently, you may have noticed the elimination of the “banner ad” at the bottom of the app. That ad alone accounted for the majority of ads we showed customers, so pulling that ad was the most significant reduction in ads we have ever done. We also removed the full-screen ad that appeared at times after you blocked a profile.
Bugs and Outages
We know these are a pain, and we’re always working to eliminate bugs and outages. Your bug reports are triaged by a dedicated support team and shared with our Engineers to help them reproduce the error and find solutions. The more information you provide (including screenshots and videos!) the better head start we have in getting things working for you again. One of the metrics we regularly review is a 7-day average of how many of you have had a crash free experience. As of the time of this post, 98% of iOS customers and 99% of Android customers have had a crash free experience this week. We want this number to be at 100%.
Discrimination and Racism
Not acceptable. We’ve heard a number of people in our community tell us about the casual and direct racism and discrimination they’ve experienced on Grindr. Your feedback is clear: you want us to do more to reduce harmful and hateful content. We’re down. We launched in-app warnings for some cases of bullying and harassment to discourage unacceptable behavior before the permanent step of banning. That said, we want to be clear that some cases are so severe and blatant we ban them immediately. We’ll be working on further versions of this warning system in Q2.
We’re also partnering with Spectrum Labs, and starting to use automated systems that identify and remove some content that violates our community guidelines even before it’s reported to us.
Finally, we’d like you to know that our content moderation team is specifically trained on bias, microaggressions, the LGBTQ+ community, and other dynamics that might be unique to our users. We have a newly created internal Escalations Team (that sits within our wider Trust and Safety department) to ensure we handle these situations with the nuance and care they deserve.
Spam and Scams
We hate them, too. We have a dedicated team of engineers, data scientists, and subject matter experts who specialize in fighting spam. In recent months, the team’s work has reduced spam to an all time low, but these efforts are not wars that can be “won.” Instead, it is an ongoing battle for Grindr (and all major internet services). We are increasing our investment here and hope to keep delivering improving results going forward. As we make changes and adjustments, so too do the scammers trying to get around our defenses by creating more elaborate scams.
Some new scams we’ve seen are crypto “investment” scams and blackmail scams to trick you into providing personal information. We have created a Scam Awareness guide so you can recognize red flags. It will take increasing diligence from our community to stay alert, and from the team at Grindr to come up with new ways to stop them before they get to you.