OPW INTERVIEW - Dec 14 - Online Buddies runs Manhunt.net, one of the most prominent gay dating sites. Manhunt recently acquired DList.com, a social networking site for the gay community. We have interviewed the founder of Manhunt, Jonathan Crutchley, and Online Buddies CEO Adam Segel about the merge and their marketing plans for DList.
For those not familiar with DList, can you describe the site?
Jonathan: DList is a social networking site for younger gay men. Users post videos and music clips and hang out chatting with friends, who could be anywhere, unlike with Manhunt, which was intended for guys to meet each other locally. DList was founded in 2006, and Online Buddies recently acquired it.
How did the idea to acquire DList come about?
Adam: We had been friends with the owners of DList for quite some time, and we were watching the development of the social networking space. Manhunt is more a dating and connections website, while DList is a place for people to meet friends, explore art, music, etc. It was a different offering, and we wanted to make that available to men.
Our ultimate goal is to be the largest and best place for men to meet men on the Internet. If they want to meet each other through a site like Manhunt, then that’s terrific. If they want to meet each other by sharing art, photos and things like that on DList, then that’s fantastic as well. We want to give all the mediums possible for men to be able to interact and meet each other.
How many members does Manhunt and DList have right now, respectively?
Jonathan: Manhunt has at least 2 million member subscriptions. Just under half of those are in the United States, and the rest are international. DList has about 180,000 subscribers at the start, and the idea is to grow it beyond that.
Adam: We have already started marketing DList just this week, and we’ve already quintupled the number of people joining each day.
Jonathan: We’re doing more marketing under the new ownership than the previous owners of DList were able to do.
How are you marketing DList?
Jonathan: It was a couple of years ago, but we advertised Manhunt on MySpace one weekend. On the Friday night the ad appeared, the responses crashed our website. The place to advertise an Internet product is on the Internet.
Adam: We started off by marketing DList through the Manhunt website and to the younger Manhunt members. We’re also marketing DList through events and promotions and through Facebook, MySpace and Google. We also advertise on some adult interest websites. The adult ’tube sites seem to do well for us.
Tell me more about these DList promotional events.
Adam: We work with the gay and lesbian organizations at a lot of different colleges. We’re coming up with some different contests and promotions, like traveling DList parties. We just did our first party at Harvard. It was a joint with MIT, and we had tons of guys come. We want to continue to host these parties at other campuses across the country.
What is the advertising budget for DList?
Adam: Marketing for DList is part of the overall marketing budget for Online Buddies, which is between $3 and $4 million per year.
Who would you consider DList’s competition to be?
Adam: One of them is called Connexion. Another one is called JustGuys.net. But they’re much smaller. Plus, they don’t seem to have the traction that DList has, especially now with the power of Online Buddies behind it and the marketing might we’re able to give it.
How does DList currently make money?
Adam: There are a few people who pay for some premium features. But the vast majority of the site is free, and the revenue is generated through advertising.
Do you plan to make any changes to the revenue model?
Adam: We aim to keep the website free so that more and more guys will use it, and thus we will be able to fund the website with advertising dollars.
We have a steady stream of advertisers now. We actually have advertisers waiting for us to make even more inventory available.
Any changes to current DList content offerings?
Jonathan: I don’t know if we plan any immediate changes in content. I think the first problem will be marketing and increasing the number of subscribers.
Who are some of your advertisers?
Adam: Most of them are through ad networks. In the past, we have worked with American Express, BMW, some of the clothing companies, some movies, etc. Lady GaGa is someone who advertises on our site.
Does Online Buddies offer any packaged advertising deal across all its sites?
Adam: Not yet, but it’s something we’re planning.