Monday, January 23, 2017

Evolution of the online dating business

The NY Times and Consumer Reports bring us up to date on dating.  And (at the end of this long post) making dating great again in the new political environment..


Here's the NY Times:

For Online Dating Sites, a Bumpy Road to Love

"Not many people have heard of Spark Networks, but far more are familiar with what it owns: JDate, ChristianMingle and a host of other sites like SilverSingles.com and BlackSingles.com.
...
"according to Spark Networks’ 2015 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the number of paid subscribers to its Jewish networks declined to around 65,000 last year from a little over 85,000 in 2012. Its total for all networks dropped by more than 55,000 people, to under 204,000.
This comes at a time when an increasing number of Americans are trying to find partners online. According to the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of Americans have used online dating sites or mobile apps, compared with 11 percent in 2013. Spark Network’s revenues fell nearly 22 percent from 2014 to 2015.
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"There are about 4,500 online dating companies, according to a report by the market research company IBISWorld, but the majority are tiny. The largest player in the field is the Match Group, with 51 dating sites; over the last few years alone it acquired such high-profile companies as Tinder and Plenty of Fish.
“It’s never been cheaper to start a dating site and never been more expensive to grow one,” said Mark Brooks, a consultant for the internet dating industry who also runs Online Personals Watch. Part of the problem, he said, is that 70 percent of internet dating in the United States is now on mobile.
"Dating apps usually start by offering their services completely free to bring in new users. There are then two ways for the services to make money: advertising and turning free users into paying ones.
“It used to be 10 percent of those who registered converted to paid,” Mr. Brooks said. “Now it’s more like 2 to 3 percent.”
Advertising can be tough to get, said Tom Homer, editor of the website Dating Site Reviews, and on a mobile device it does not pay much because there is less real estate available than on regular websites.
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"Some also see a move toward ever more niche sites like MouseMingle.com (Disney lovers) and GlutenFreeSingles.com (the name says it all). But, when you slice the pie ever thinner, “you’re also slicing your membership base,” Mr. Homer said."

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And from Consumer Reports: Online Dating: Match Me If You Can
"According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites (web-based platforms like Match.com) and/or dating apps (location-based smartphone apps like Tinder).

Participation by those 18 to 24 has almost tripled since 2013, and boomer enrollment has doubled. In fact, people over 50 are one of the fastest growing segments. “It’s a product of the growing normalcy of using social media apps,” says Moira Weigel, author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Online Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). “Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.”
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"Our survey included many people who at some point had used a dating website or an app, as well as a subset of 9,600 respondents who used them in the past two years. The more recently active group rated specific sites.

"Our findings tell an almost contradictory story. On the one hand, the numbers indicate that these sites are helping people find mates. A whopping 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage. That kind of connection rate would shatter Hall of Fame records, at least in baseball.

But the responses from the more active group suggest they’re highly frustrated. They gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has ever seen for services rendered—lower even than for tech-support providers, notoriously poor performers in our ratings.
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"Michael Norton, Ph.D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so. Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it. But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”

Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.D., a junior fellow in economics at Harvard University. In other words, there’s no incentive for them to make the experience speedy. If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you. Our survey found that among respondents who stopped online dating, 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they did so because they didn’t like the quality of their matches. Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.

But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.
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“You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3’: Match.com, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts. “Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.”

That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or BlackPeopleMeet.
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Finally, Could you date someone whose politics you couldn't stand? Could your political views get you a date?  Have I got the dating site for you...
https://trumpsingles.com/  making dating great again...

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