OPW INTERVIEW - Oct 27 - Friendscout24 holds the top spot for the biggest dating site in Germany, according to comScore WorldMetrix. Martina Bruder is the CEO. We caught up with her to find out her thoughts on matchmaking, LBS, mobile and how the market is changing. - Mark Brooks
What countries does Friendscout24 operate in now and what are your market positions in those countries?
Friendscout24 is operating in 7 European countries. We are number 1 in the German speaking markets, which are Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We are also amongst the top 3 in the other markets which are Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium.
I noticed you recently partnered with a company called Attivio and you’re using active intelligence. Tell us more about that.
We changed our service provider to Attivio in the 1st quarter of 2009. They offer a very good service and we’ve developed that service further with them as we move forward to really have a state of the art product in terms of search. That is all I want to give away about what we do with Attivio. But the service has really helped us to enhance our search results for the users.
We were talking earlier and you mentioned a term RQ, what is RQ?
RQ is the international translation and in Germany we call it BQ, Beziehungsquotient. RQ is our newest product and RQ stands for Relationship Quotient, which has a close relationship to the intelligence quotient. RQ tests your approach to relationships, whether it is a long or short term approach. It checks what you expect from a relationship to really be happy. You can also see which type you are and you can match your type and your RQ with everyone else’s RQ on the service.
Have you reviewed your user base to see what proportion of your users are looking for long term versus casual relationships?
Friendscout24’s usership is very broad. Every day 12,000 new people register, which means clearly we’re not a niche product. Almost 40% are looking for a long term relationship. If we allow multiple answers, this goes up to 60%. But the rest of them or the same people at the same time are also interested in other types of partnership.
What is the split between male and female in that 40% number?
Females are the bigger number in being long term related. I think that seems to be part of human nature. But we also see that women take a self determined approach at short term relationships.
We’re talking about highly educated women here, with their own income. They clearly are not all looking for someone to just marry and be happy with for the rest of their lives. They have a tendency to go for short term relationships too.
We did some research to look at the future of online dating and what needs people want to see served on online dating services. To find someone you can spend your life with is what everybody has in common whether they are short or long term oriented in the now. This basic need never goes away.
How are you addressing the rise of free dating?
We can’t see it as really affecting the market. The market leaders all have paid services. So for us the rise of free dating isn’t an issue. In the past 2 years we’ve seen that the willingness to pay more is what has driven market growth. So market growth in the last 18 months has no longer been driven by the number of new people but by the ability of the services to offer high value services, which people are willing to pay higher prices for.
Are you seeing a rise in the number of users who are wanting to use their cell phones and iPhones to access the service?
Yes absolutely. You can’t even call that a trend any longer because it is a fact. We offered mobile services very early in our company life which is natural because we are part of Deutsche Telekom. Right now we’re really waiting to see our new iPhone app enter the market.
Do you think location based services are an invasion of privacy or do you think ultimately these location based services are good for internet dating?
Location based services will really be a new thing which we have to take very seriously.
Can you tell me how internet dating has changed and effected society since the mid-90’s?
I think that internet dating has changed the way people approach partnerships. It actually helps people to be a lot more self determined in finding the right partner. But it also ensures that the approach you choose is much more defined by you. You are the owner. You are in control. This is especially important for women. So for women this is a very emancipated way to approach a partnership. It has also helped people to feel a lot more at ease with finding out about another person before they actually get serious with that person. It helps you to feel more secure; it helps you to go into a partnership with a better understanding of who that person is. And if you don’t want to continue a partnership you don’t have to.
I think it has really helped people to become more self determined and to have a lot more control. If you look at the success rates, 33% of our singles who quit the service tell us they have found the person they were looking for. So this is a success rate which the market has brought to society.