OPW INTERVIEW -- Nov 22 -- RSVP is Australia’s favorite internet dating company. Here’s my interview with their CEO. - Mark Brooks
Do you think the Australian people are more accepting of internet dating these days? How does that compare with the USA?
There is still a lower penetration or uptake of singles who are online in Australia. We estimate that around 14% of our target audience is online and using dating sites comparing to 25+% in US.
The other thing we’re seeing now is that our members are much more comfortable talking about their experiences and saying they’re on RSVP. However we still have work to do to convince advertisers that a dating site is the right environment for their brand. About 10 to 15% of our revenue comes from advertisers. We are seeing more and more success with lead generation advertisers, those that get the fact that people come to our site and want to transact.
What kind of companies are advertising at RSVP?
The financial brands, those that are looking to get credit cards and mortgage type submissions. We’re also seeing cosmetics brands. Our biggest opportunity is around the fact that we are a very data rich site. We know a lot about our members. Of course, we don’t reveal their identity but we know their age, location, income level and we know, for example, if they’re a smoker or non-smoker or if they’re a single parent or not.
One of the best examples I can share with you is a campaign we ran for Nicabate which is a “stop smoking” product. We built a unique community for them that reached over 250 of our members who said yes they are smokers but they want to stop smoking. So that’s a perfect example of how we can take this data rich information and tailor it to an advertisers unique needs.
I think our ad opportunity is the same that the larger social networks are working towards, which is how do we utilize the information to create and target ads in a way that is appropriate? I think that we all are in this place of experimentation.
You’ve launched a number of RSVP Communities recently. Which have been the most popular?
We’ve launched over 25 communities. We just did this initiative within the last 2 months and to date 85,000 of our members have joined one of these 25 communities. Our most popular ones for example are food and wine lovers. We’re also seeing tremendous traction in adventure travelers and the dating life. Our first and foremost goal was to help our members, enable them to find like minded people. Now we are starting to get advertisers coming forward, some deals are just about finalized.
Congratulations on launching your anonymous calling product. How’s that working out for you?
We’ve worked with a 3rd party provider. It’s a way for 2 people to connect anonymously either through a land line or a mobile phone. Our members are telling us that they’re finding it very useful. It’s fair to say that predominantly those people, who are very active on the site, are using it. People who are new to the site probably are a little more cautious about it. And I think as awareness and understanding grows, its usage will continue to grow.
Who do you regard as your top competitors in Australia at this stage?
I’ve been in my role for the last 15 months and I would say the competitive landscape has changed in the last year. There is the growth of the social networks which are very popular but not necessarily a place people go to find dates.
We also see a growth of free dating sites. We’re actually benefiting from this. There is a lot of confidence around the fact that people on our site are serious about relationships. And if they’ve contacted you they’ve spent money to contact you and that gives you more trust as well.
So our membership is growing and we still remain the largest player. We’ve got 1.3 million members with 1,000 to 1,500 new members joining each day.