Friday, January 23, 2009

Remember Online Dating?


JANUARY 23, 2009

Usage is down, but revenues are up. Some consumers are still in love with Internet matchmaking.

Online dating seems like one of those things everyone did when the Web was new, then dropped after a while. In fact, the percentage of Internet users in the US who visit online dating sites is down, but online dating revenues are up.

Piper Jaffray estimated that online dating revenues will reach $1.65 billion in 2012, up from $1.18 billion in 2008. The company said growth would be steady, if not massive.

Only 5% of US Internet users surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said they used online dating sites in 2008—less than one-half the percentage who said so in 2002. The percentage of 18-to-29-year-olds who visited online dating sites in 2002 was generally double that of any other age group. Yet by 2008, usage had leveled out among adults ages 18 to 64. Only 1% of adults ages 65 and over use the sites.

So if usage is down, why are revenues up? Because online dating site marketers got smart about pricing and targeting. Monthly fees can be $30 or more, depending on the service. Dating sites are counting on the fact that a small percentage of Internet users are serious enough about dating to pay for services of this sort instead of meeting through social networks (or, you know, life).

Niche dating sites specialize in targeting specific types of daters, and the range of these services is now as diverse as Internet users themselves. As ConsumerSearch noted in July 2008:

“There are now hundreds of niche sites and the categories are endless, [including] JDate.com for Jewish singles and MuslimDating.net for Muslims. There’s also ChristianSingles.com. Seniors can try SeniorFriendFinder.com, and African-Americans can check out BlackSingles.com. Those with chronic diseases can try Prescription4Love.com. There is also AgeMatch.com for intergenerational dating. Richkiss.com only allows those who make more than $150,000 a year to join.”

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