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Founded by Iranian immigrants (Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr) during their undergraduate studies in the United States, Zoosk is an 18 and up dating website (and later, an app) which launched in December of 2007. By 2013, a fairly long time in the world of online dating, the company reached #1 in dating apps (in terms of gross profits) and climbed to the top 25 of Apple’s iOS store’s highest grossing apps. 2014 brought a public offering for the company and some overspending rooted in company expansion.
Despite grossing 200 million in revenue for prior years, Zoosk subsequently decided to limit messaging to paid members only. By 2015, 15 percent of its staff was subsequently laid off. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2014 marked the year that Tinder finally reached a whopping 100 billion swipes per day!
Currently, Zoosk has over 35 million members spanning 80 countries and 25 languages. Zoosk’s claim to fame is that it uses Behavioral Matchmaking technology, which is their trademarked algorithm based matching.
Pros & Cons
- Zoosk is one of the first sites to photo verify, which means they ask for a video selfie from multiple angles, to show users are the person, age, (potentially even weight) in the real world, that they are in their photos.
- Once a user has been successfully ‘photo verified’ by Zoosk moderators, you will find a green checked badge stating they’ve been verified!
- Perhaps due to the costs of being a member and the algorithm, messages and matches don’t instantly add up as much as they do on free sites.
- Carousel or verifying your profile can help. You have to fill in profile information to even use Carousel, or the site will stop you from proceeding.
As mentioned, since you need to be a paid member to get the full range of service, Zoosk will generally not operate well as a free site without messaging. However, if you still choose NOT to subscribe, when you are messaged by a subscriber with “Premium Messaging”, you can reply for free without subscribing.
Ease of Use
To be fair, Zoosk isn’t alone in their methods. The reality is that most dating sites now use algorithm based matching. According to Zoosk’ stated goals https://about.zoosk.com/static/2013/09/Zoosk_Fact_Sheet.pdf, the site hopes their algorithm will avoid “lengthy questionnaires” as they focus more on how users BEHAVE on the site. In theory, this limits the need to sort through hundreds of users before one finds a match one likes or to search a Zoosk profile, but does it work?
Zoosk claims this gets rid of a “one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approach” and places focus on member clicks, as well as which users are responded to or messaged. The algorithm lets the site showcase individual users they think one might be attracted to. As one continues to select search criteria, Zoosk will filter those personalized results along with the information found through their algorithm matchmaking.
For comparison, Match uses an algorithm codenamed “Synapse” which looks into preferences, age range, body type and color of hair. It also uses “Triangulation”, or an algorithm-based way of comparing similar users. For instance, should a user say they want a match who is 25 years old, but they frequently look at profiles of users who are 35, the site will take that into account.
eHarmony has actually been banned, by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), from claiming they are “scientifically proven”, since their odds of finding a real lasting match are as good (or bad) as anywhere else. eHarmony has claimed their algorithm is based on scientific theories about mating and relationship psychology, while their questionnaires look for personality traits and types, values, interests, and other factors.
Perhaps more exciting than the algorithm itself is that the site now gives users some of the information directly. The way that Zoosk shares some of their algorithm’s collected data is through “Dating Insights”- Your Dating Style, Who You Like, and Who Likes You. Potentially interesting and helpful, one can see the demographics of the users you’re attracting and selecting.
For instance, are you more or less interested in income or college degrees than other users (Your Dating Style)? What are the books or criteria that users who like you seem to have in common (Who Likes You)? Or, the qualities you keep picking over and over (Who You Like)?
In 2017 alone, Zoosk used their algorithm to report that lunch dates are on the rise over drinks or dinner, users with filtered photos now fare more poorly, while vegetarians get more attention than meat eaters and users who mention foods like chocolate or avocado in their profile get over 2x the replies! While this information may not change the world, it might give you ideas for a successful profile!
How does This Work?
Download the app, or consider going to the desktop version of their site zoosk.com. Unlike other competitor dating websites, Zoosk is one of the easiest desktop sites to navigate. The interface has easy, clear options and a user friendly appearance. Where Zoosk falls down on high costs, they make up for with having a simple and streamlined site.
Once on the Zoosk website, enter your zip code. From there, you’ll enter your basic information and link to social media for an easy log-in with Facebook, or you can sign up with a separate email address. After signup, you will verify your email address or confirm with Facebook, that your information is correct and valid.
Upload one photo, or more to get more views and connections. Zoosk will offer the options of purchasing “Coins” through Boost, so that one gets more likes. Fill in your profile and answer questions for dating and match success.
From there, options will mostly appear in the upper left text box under the name Zoosk. Options include, ’search, carousel, message, view who is online now, see connections or views, use SmartPick or view insights’.
While most options are self explanatory by their name, Carousel is essentially swiping from your keyboard. You can say yes, no, maybe or ‘gold star’ users to find matches. While SmartPick has simple questions to improve your match algorithm.
- Listed rates, currently (at least for female subscribers) are 6 months at $12.49 monthly (or one payment $74.95 (3 months at $19.98 (or one payment $59.95), 1 month $29.95, or 12 months $12.49 monthly (or one payment $149.88).
- If paid subscriptions weren’t enough, Zoosk also utilizes coins, or Virtual Currency, which can be purchased to give you “greater exposure, the ability to send virtual gifts and enhanced messaging features”. Coins start at $19.95, all the way up to $39.95 or $99.95 for significantly more coins at a 50% off savings. Truth be told, coin purchases pop up all over the site. To find out if a user has read your message? You guessed it, 35 coins. To browse invisibly for 30 minutes? 30 more coins. The site can be used without coins but you might be tempted by the Virtual Currency offers.
- Moral of the story based on costs alone? Love on Zoosk might not be cheap. However, the monthly fee is still less than some sites and, if you can afford it, it’s worth exploring. Coin purchases are generally more frustrating to deal with than sites that give you most every feature for one subscription fee.
- If you’re on a budget or hate ‘coins’, Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, and Plenty Of Fish might be a better bet. However, if you never (ever) message first, then waiting for matches who have premium service, so you can reply, is always an option (though not the best one if you don’t hear from a user you think you’ll really like).
Users seem to be sincere (generally) with what they’re looking for. Expect that some users will send staged questions (“What is your favorite romantic comedy?” or other auto-questions).
However, most seem to at least open with a few personal comments in their messages. Is this proof that photo verification works or the site’s algorithm is helpful? Regardless, make sure that you’ve properly specified search settings, filled in your profile with some authenticity and wit, added photos (closeup and full body), and that you reply (fairly) promptly to users who contact you.
If you want endless matches and don’t care about algorithms, you may have more fun using the app version or a plain old swipe based dating service. However, if you haven’t had luck elsewhere – especially on match.com or eHarmony, Zoosk is worth exploring!