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Online Dating Industry News 2-9-12


Tonight on CNBC at 9PM EST. Love at First Byte. NBC News and Today Show Correspondent Amy Robach reveals how online daters are using cutting-edge technology in search of love and how digital entrepreneurs are getting rich helping them do it.

You’ll meet scientists, mathematicians and psychologists who claim they can draw revealing conclusions about you from what you do – and don’t do – on their websites. Can online dating  really deliver what it promises? CNBC takes you inside a business trying to unlock the secrets of the human heart with science.

Maybe you’ll even get a glimpse of yours truly.

Grading the online dating industry:  Eli Finkel, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University, says that dating site matching systems are Doing It Wrong. Eli just called me and we’re going to have an in-depth talk next week, the highlights of which I’ll share here.

“To date, there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works,” Finkel observes. “If dating sites want to claim that their matching algorithm is scientifically valid, they need to adhere to the standards of science, which is something they have uniformly failed to do. In fact, our report concludes that it is unlikely that their algorithms can work, even in principle, given the limitations of the sorts of matching procedures that these sites use.”

“The authors suggest that the existing matching algorithms neglect the most important insights from the flourishing discipline of relationship science. The algorithms seek to predict long-term romantic compatibility from characteristics of the two partners before they meet. Yet the strongest predictors of relationship well-being, such as a couple’s interaction style and ability to navigate stressful circumstances, cannot be assessed with such data.”

According to Finkel, “developers of matching algorithms have tended to focus on the information that is easy for them to assess, like similarity in personality and attitudes, rather than the information that relationship science has found to be crucial for predicting long-term relationship well-being. As a result, these algorithms are unlikely to be effective.”

“Thus far, the industry certainly does not get an A for effort,” noted Finkel. “For years, the online dating industry has ignored actual relationship science in favor of unsubstantiated claims and buzzwords, like ‘matching algorithms,’ that merely sound scientific.”

Thanks to @dizzycatdesign for the tip.

The latest Online Dating Industry Insider is out on Feel free to suggest stories and links.

Mobile Update

While niche apps like Grindr and other discovery apps may get all the press, Plentyoffish surpassed 300 million monthly visits to their free iPhone and Android apps in January 2012. Markus Frind, Founder of POF told me this week at 40 percent of sign-ups in the U.S. are now via mobile device. Can any other dating app come even remotely close to this?

Update: Markus just sent me this link. Is dating on the web dead, is it really moving to mobile like he says?

I have 15 dating apps on my phone, from POF to Badoo, Match and a bunch of little ones that look so sad sitting on my home screen, barely used. Even OKCupid’s mobile app, which I like, has never let me make a meaningful connection with a woman in my area. Believe me I’ve tried. Never once has a woman said, “Thanks for saying hi, yes I’m in your area, lets go get a cup of coffee.”

Maybe I’ll reinstall the POF mobile app and give that a try. Its getting near impossible to keep track of all the mobile apps and I know I’m missing some great ones.

As for Zoosk and Badoo and AYI and whatnot, the churn rate on these apps is so high, anyone worth meeting is only there for a few weeks and then poof they disappear. That is emotionally draining, at least to me.

I’ve spent a month on Badoo and MyYearbook. Logging in via mobile and web every single day. I’ll have more on that in a future post.

Mobile, its hard to attract users, even harder to monetize them and the location-based services rarely turn up anyone worth talking to. Someone please show me a new site that has awesome members who are engaged, intelligent and want to meet for a coffee. Officially Launches with the Introduction of Pay-Per-Match Online Dating.

Tastebuds, the dating site that matches singles using music, now has over 35,000 music fans. Love their blog,  Coldplay fans least likely to have sex on first date, ha.

More Christians Seeking Love Connection Online (video).

Niche site of the week: uTest Launches “” – World’s First Dating Site For Software Testers. Talk about the perfect way to design a dating site, lol!

Top 25 dating blogs.

Match has an infographic out about singles and politics. Infographics are all the rage now. The problem is that most are boring, don’t tell an interesting story, or as with Match’s, basically say one thing and the graphic says something else completely. Infographics are all about getting more links to your site. Throw up some questionable data, make it look pretty and hope for the best.

Speaking of Match, check out Meetics’s numbers. Dating industry growth hype, let yee be smited (or at least put into perspective) by the mighty 10-Q. I wonder who put that Singlesnet deal together at Match? That was a rare misstep that they are going to be paying for for a while.

Still, Match continues to crush it in terms of overall revenue and subscribers. Pretty soon they will be making $200 million a quarter!

Sure there are 50 new tiny sites making waves with press releases, but Match = Amazon and even if they have a bad quarter they are just going to buy up competition and keep growing.

Match will own Plentyofish within a few years, right?

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  1. From the information I have read I don’t see Markus selling POF. He is at the top of his game, he earns enough to fully try out any new business ideas he may have, and I think he just enjoys the business to much to get out of it .

    Unless of course someone offers him an unbelievable price :-)

  2. Good to see someone taking a skeptical view of online dating, nice boost to my ego that an academic has come forward to say the same thing I’ve felt. I subscribed to an industry blog a few months ago, and read it regularly. It appears to me that the industry is one big circle jerk, where no one seems to think or care much about providing an effective service. Their whole paradigm is to keep people on the site as much as possible, when the solution is to get people to meet face to face, which means getting them *off* the computer. And then they boast and crow about how big and great and wonderful their industry is, and have all these fancy mathematicians.

    Occasionally I’ll read these profiles of company executives, and they themselves never seem to find mates through their own service! And that’s because, at least for most men, one can get a more desirable woman through other means than through online dating. I’m not sure if this problem is fully soluble, that online dating will ever be able to bring a mate of equal quality to other means, but I think there’s definitely room for improvement. That the industry spends inordinate amounts on marketing tells me that their product is so shitty that they have to find new suckers every minute. It’s not fun, it’s not easy to get started (profile essays etc), it’s frustrating… If our innate desire for relationships weren’t so strong, these products would never get off the ground.

    I’ve always felt that I can learn more in 5 minutes in person than in 5 hours of correspondence. Yet the dating sites promote exactly the opposite sort of mindset. And people respond in kind.

    Additionally, I believe that for a service to be truly effective, it may require taking a firm accounting of sex and age differences and how they affect the dating market. Men and women of different ages face very different issues, and they may require different solutions.

    In the long term, I think/hope that online dating is too important to be left to the current shoddy players, like Match, OKCupid and POF. Sean Fanning has a secretive startup in this sector that has me optimistic.

    I also just tried out Nerve. I like it, especially the payment structure, which is a flat $20 a month, but the best part is that subscribers can communicate with non-subscribers freely. I’ve never paid for a dating site before, and this feature got me to pay. It may have been a mistake, given that the site has too few people to be a great choice for me. But it’s good to see some creativity. The interface is also well done, and *minimalistic;* it doesn’t require much user input, which is important. Still, I wonder if it could do more to promote contact between members.

  3. Nice peace of news, indeed. These constant changes… What for. I think, very skeptically, they can do anything special. Just simple dating

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