OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 25 - Cupid has done well in Europe and is now setting its sites on the USA. That should bode well for its stock. I think Cupid is the best brand in the industry. Noone else has 2,000 years of branding to back them up! I sought out someone to talk about the baby and mobile dating. Sean Wood and Art Seredyuk took my interview. - Mark Brooks
How is Cupid mobile doing for you?
Very well. We started working with mobile as early as 2007. We were able to react quickly as trends emerge. In February 2011 we saw 200,000 registration on BeNaughty coming through the web and 30,000 via mobile. In March 2012, we saw half a million registrations on mobile and half a million on web.
So is this 50/50 across the board or is it particular locations? Are you seeing more mobile users in the UK versus the USA?
No, in USA, the mobile usage is now overtaking web. Not so in the UK, yet.
Interesting. What's the profile of a mobile user versus an online user? Is there any difference?
Not really. It's worth pointing out that we have a multi-platform approach.
And how are they monetizing? We know Facebook isn't making too much money from mobile. How about Cupid?
We are. For our registration, we have only one simple subscription to get access to all our products. We make money from communication only.
What platforms are you on at this stage?
We've got native applications for the two major mobile platforms. We've got an application for iPhone, Android and iPad. Also an application for mobile in HTML5 for smart phones. So a customer can decide, depending on their preference, what application or site to use. The market now is about a 50/50 split. We even have websites for older phones because they are still on the market.
Why did you decide to go with native applications rather than just use HTML5?
Market researchers say that there's no elimination of a single platform at the moment. So we're not trying to gamble and put all of our eggs in one basket. We have the development teams to support both platforms.
Have you chosen to use location-based services in the applications?
Yes, absolutely. Location-based services are a likable part of a dating service. No matter what you're using, application or an HTML5 site, you can do a 1 click search and an automatic system will get your geographical location and will match you with singles. It filters out based on your search criteria and it will show your results on your map of which singles are accessible around you.
How would you say your mobile app is differentiated from your competitors?
It's not only about mobile apps. It's more about strategy. For example, we provide our customers with a truly multi-platform solution.
What features are you most proud of?
So from internal features, I can highlight our tracking and reporting system. Which is a system that allows us to track almost everything, see conversions for every device. It helps us understand which works best for us, helps us with real time optimization. Speaking about customers features, it's obviously location-based search.
Did you build the mobile applications in house or did you elect to use any external sources?
Actually, we built all of our applications and mobile sites in house. We have a very skilled team with access to all of those development tools. This also means that we can react fairly quickly to trends.
You mentioned that you are most proud of the conversions tracking and the metrics that you're able to pull from the apps. What channels have you preferred for marketing? Where do you find people?
We use almost all available channels. For example, we actively work with CPC, CPI and CPA networks. We have our own internal affiliate program. We secured some good direct deals.
So we know with online conversions that typically 10% of registrants convert to paying members and they stick around for 3 months. A typical new member registrant costs about six bucks or so. How does that compare to a mobile channel? What do you think the industry standard number should be for the mobile channels, in terms of conversions and the time people stick around.
Here at Cupid, I can tell that there is a big difference between the mobile channels and web. At the moment, we probably see 25 to 30% lower price for mobile registrations. But I think the industry will change because of a lot of demand for mobile traffic and in the next six months, we'll have the same metrics for mobile as we do for web traffic.
Is the mobile platform available to partners for white labeling?
Our web white label platform will have the HTML5 element with it so our partners will have mobile optimized sites. They simply, as default, won't get an iPad app, or an iPhone app, or an Android app. However we certainly could build one for partners quite easily.
So here's my second question that follows on from it. So, yes, you can do white labels. And the question that you would ask me is how much money I'd spend on promoting it. I would say I'm going to spend $200,000 in the next month on trafficking just for mobile. Where would you recommend that I spend the money?
If you don't know what types of traffic is best for you, you might have to go to CPA networks so you can get your metrics on your installations or your registrations. You can also go to some mobile agencies which are a lot of the market at the moment. They can provide you some help with CPA and CPI networks.
So specifically, who would you say I should not use? What channels or specific source do you think are the worst?
For every source, and every network, you can find some verticals that won't perform well for you. It's all about A/B testing.
In terms of mobile payments, what are the options that you are allowing users to use?
We tried to add all of the web and mobile payments. Obviously, we have a credit card payment. We have a mobile specific SMS payment, we use mobile PayPal. We use a specific mobile system, Payforit. We keep an eye on all innovations in mobile payments so when something new is available on the market, we can add it to our sites and our applications.
You also have the Cupid apps available for download on iPhone. So Apple's taking their 30% cut. How do you feel about that?
We don’t like it, but we have to deal with it. We prefer to use Android, because we can use our own in house payment system.
Who else do you think is doing a good job in mobile dating?
I don’t' think anybody is doing anything particularly impressive in commercial terms. We would like to see what Facebook does with mobile and when they get their mobile advertising platform running.
If you were Facebook what would you change on the Facebook mobile app?
I don't know, because the problem is not that they don't have a good mobile application. Almost 50% of the users are using Facebook on their mobile. The problem is that they are not monetizing well on mobile. The mobile advertising is the real announcement. So we'll wait.
Are you offering advertising through Cupid?
Yeah, we sell some apps for our non-paid members for additional monetization.
Are you focused on app downloads or are you showing other ads?
Most of our ads are cross-promotion of our other brands.
What do you think Cupid mobile is going to look like in a couple of years' time? What's your vision moving forward?
Regarding our worldwide presence, in mobile we've got a very, very high presence in countries with high mobile penetration like US, UK, France. So our plans is to maintain our high positions, retain our places. Our Android application tops the lifestyle category in the Android marketplace. We are going to retain those positions and get better positions with market growth in European countries and Latin American countries.