The Online Dating Association (ODA) Maintains the Gold Standard for Dating Sites in the UK

Online Dating

The Online Dating Association (ODA) Maintains the Gold Standard for Dating Sites in the UK

Amber Brooks Amber Brooks • 6/28/17

The Short Version: With strong moral leadership, the Online Dating Association (ODA) supports transparency, fairness, and honesty in dating websites in the UK and around the world. Since 2013, the organization has upheld a groundbreaking Code of Practice for dating services looking to operate above-board businesses. Today, ODA’s membership includes top names in the dating industry, including eHarmony, Match, and The Dating Lab, who unite behind the ODA’s ethical standards. Such leading brands become ODA members to assert their commitment to maintaining a trustworthy and efficient platform for singles everywhere. The Online Dating Association’s policy recommendations and complaint arbitration helps members build trust with consumers, so singles can join upstanding dating platforms with confidence and security.

Thirteen dating site providers in the UK came together in 2013 to raise the caliber of services in online dating. These leading voices in the industry outlined specific ethical behaviors that a reputable dating site should maintain and committed to sticking to that code in their own businesses.

It was a simple pledge to improve the quality of the dating experience in their own corner of the internet. Today, the Online Dating Association (ODA) includes many top dating brands promising to stand for honesty and integrity in all their dating services.

From niche dating websites to broad-based dating apps, the ODA’s membership includes businesses big and small. Representing the best in the industry, the organization raises the standard of what consumers can expect from dating websites and apps.

At industry briefings, focus groups, and conferences, the ODA invites a dialogue among key stakeholders and up-and-coming businesses about what can be done to improve online dating for singles everywhere. These popular ODA events speak to the growing influence the organization has on developing the dating services of the future.

Photo of Andrew McClelland, CEO of the Online Dating Association

Andrew McClelland, CEO of the Online Dating Association, keeps an eye on how digital trends can best serve consumers.

“We were founded as a voice to represent the dating industry,” CEO Andrew McClelland told us. “We give providers the opportunity to compare policies and ensure they have sound practices across the board.”

Andrew came to the ODA in October 2016 from a background in digital commerce and retail. He feels passionately about giving consumers helpful, informative, and trustworthy online tools. This digital advocate highlights the ways technology can unite and empower people of all ages.

“I’m keen to take them on the journey with us and not leave anyone behind,” he said. “I bring a customer-focused attitude to the ODA. I’m always aware that whatever we’re doing has a customer at the end of it.”

The Organization’s Code of Practice Promotes Fairness & Honesty

The cornerstone of the Online Dating Association is its Code of Practice. The code is a brief overview of the way an ethical dating site should act. This way, providers can compare their policies against a set benchmark. The sections cover general rules, honest and clear marketing, user protection, meeting user needs, and protecting data and privacy online.

The rigorous guidelines for membership of the ODA include:

  • Being honest and upfront about the services provided
  • Clearly stating the terms, duration, and limitations of free services
  • Providing easy access to safety information regarding online dating
  • Not marketing dating services to users under the age of 18

The ODA screens members before and after they join to discourage misleading marketing ploys and unsavory sales tactics in the dating industry. Additionally, ODA staff receives the complaints against members and monitors the brand’s progress in addressing the issue and reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The organization’s Adjudication Panel is entrusted with sanctioning members in the case of code breaches. The panel acts as the final arbiters on complaints that can’t be resolved between individuals and the brand.

“Our Code of Practice enables us to represent a mechanism for self-governance,” Andrew explained. “Many dating services consider our logo a badge of honor.”

A Trustworthy Hub of Consumer Advice on Dating Safely Online

In addition to helping businesses flourish and build trust with customers, the ODA has taken steps to educate the public about the growing industry. The organization provides security information to empower singles to stay safe and raise overall consumer confidence in online dating. On the website, readers can find advice on everything from how to create an honest profile to when to meet a date prospect in person.

The ODA’s online dating safety tips can help readers understand how to date safely online. The post outlines important safety measures to employ as well as red flags to look out for when chatting on a dating site.

“One of the key messages that we’ve been putting across is: just because you know someone in the digital world, that doesn’t mean you know them,” Andrew said. “When you move into the physical environment, you shouldn’t ignore those natural feelings that we would have when meeting in a social setting.”

The ODA is a comprehensive informational resource in the online dating industry. Whether you’re a single unsure how to date online or a dating site hoping to foster a safe and friendly platform, the ODA can point out the way and drive people toward success. Its experienced and reliable advice covers everything from blocking scammers to protecting private information.

“We work with key industry leaders to understand the challenges of online dating,” Andrew said, “and figure out what we can do to alleviate them through consumer advice and a proper code of conduct.”

Expanding Influence in a Fast-Growing Global Market

The ODA combines decades of industry experience to guide professional dating services on the most effective ways to operate. Furthermore, the organization researches the dating sector to provide up-to-date commercial insights on hot topics in the business, including data protections, mobile products, and new legislation.

Though the movement began in the UK, the Online Dating Association has its sights set on a global impact and plans to grow into international territories in the future. “Many of our members have global labels,” Andrew noted. “Technology breaks down borders and barriers quite dramatically.”

Since its foundation, the ODA has sought to represent a broader base of dating websites and actively recruits new members who support the ideals and standards of the organization. As the ODA looks to grow its influence beyond the UK, the ultimate goal is to encourage dating services to set policies based on honesty, efficiency, and integrity.

Screenshot of the ODA's homepage

With every new member, the ODA raises the caliber of dating services provided to singles.

Advocating for industry-wide ethical standards, the ODA networks with prominent voices in the dating industry and also keeps tabs on trends in finance, retail, and technology that could affect online dating in the long run.

According to the website, “The ODA is building its relationships with internet search providers, social network players, and the mobile network operators and Internet Service Providers as they work on filters and other access controls. We and they share users, and we have a shared wish that users have a safe and enjoyable time online.”

The ODA: A Moral Authority in the Dating Landscape

The Online Dating Association fosters greater consumer confidence by standing for transparent policies and guidelines. When the ODA logo appears on a dating site, it means that platform provides a trustworthy, authentic, and safe place to meet people online. By pioneering an ethical code of conduct for dating services, this visionary organization has helped the online dating industry grow in a mature and credible way.

Members that commit to the official Code of Practice endorse policies that support a healthy, secure, and friendly online atmosphere for singles. Since 2013, the Online Dating Association has promoted high moral standards for dating websites old and new, big and small, in the UK and abroad.

“We are about upholding the best practices and the good name of the industry,” Andrew told us. “And, at the end of the day, we’re helping our members run their businesses more effectively and becoming a center of excellence in the UK.”