Online Personals Watch Exclusive Interview #12 - Jupiter Research Online Personals Analyst, Nate Elliott - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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Comments

Fernando Ardenghi

He said: "I think personality profiling is interesting but clearly not necessary. Self-selection is the more important piece."

He is terrible wrong!!! The market will divide into two well-identified branches.

13-25 years old persons (teenagers) not interested in serious dating; they will use the service for fun. They are used to send a lot of traffic with emails, photos, videos, or simply stay in chat rooms for hours. They will need exclusive contents for members. They will want to be 24hs a day online or pending of their cell phone / PDA. Each person will have its private TRUMAN SHOW . Everybody will be TRUMAN for 5,000 "friends" (CASUAL ACQUAINTANCES).

AND

26-and more years old persons interested in serious dating. They will need quality CONTACTS (compatible real persons) like off line chains, reliability, code of ethics, legislation and Special Services (professionalism): the next generation of dating and matchmaking will be more scientific than ever, most probably the 16PF5 test (personality profiling) in different languages (or similar test) will be a "must have" in compatibility matching . They will know that "If any person does not pay for the service or does not want to pay for the service, he or she is not interested in serious dating, or is not interested in investing time and effort in building a new relationship with future in mind". They will pay for the service to avoid being hurt in their feelings by others.

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He also said: "$500 million a year is a pretty big industry. It's twice as large as any other category of paid content online. This is a big industry."

He did not even mention Legislation not Quality Norms like ISO9001:2000!!!!! I think the most interesting portion of the market is at the United States USD600million (English), then Europe USD600million? (different languages), Asia USD500Million? (mostly Chinese and Japanese), Australia and New Zealand USD150million?(English) and LatinAmerica USD100million?(Spanish) A market as big as USD1950million??? will require Legislation.

Any entrepreneur, Executive Director, VicePresident or CEO has two main tasks
to "see in advance"
and
to make things happen.

I can smell that by 2008: Quality Norms ISO 9001:2000, Legislation, confidential treatment of information provided (profiles), privacy, code of ethics and background checks (professionalism) will be expected for serious dating. Also "free users" will realize/understand that spending time and effort searching low-reliable profiles in "free dating sites" (a lot of hours contacting persons with low success rate, with low satisfaction index) is more expensive THAN paying a fee (USD300-USD800?) to a quality contacts provider!!!! Note OFF LINE chains charge nearly USD1,500 average


Kindest Regards,

Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.
Argentina.
[email protected]

Markus

Couple of points.

1. Nate is absolutely right, personality tests are worthless for the most part. More of a niche market then anything.

2. I think the unique visitor stats are way off. In the last few years americansingles, eharmony etc would use spyware/aware to drive huge amounts of traffic. Those practices have been reigned in because lifetime values of members were extremely low.

3. Critical mass of local users is all that matters.


As for Fernando, no point in arguing his points as he is just trying to sell his personality test. "CEO's that see in advance" clearly see that personality profiling is a small niche market. If there was anything more to it match.com and yahoo would have deeply integrated it into their sites by now.

Mark Brooks

Some great comments thanks. Here's my opinion...

The market is already definable by casual daters and those interested in serious relationships. Social networks generally cater to the younger, more casual daters. Myspace is the leader in this category, along with thefacebook and hi5.

The younger market by and large does not want to part with dollars for membership, and do not want to be defined as 'single.' They are young, interested in hooking up but aren't necessarily interested in hooking up for marriage. This younger market is less inclined to sit in front of the TV these days, favoring the internet, so sites focusing on the younger generation will make the lions share of their money from advertising to this ever more elusive, harder to reach audience.

Socially, we are trending away from the institution of marriage. Youngsters are most likely to have been burned by their parents bad marriages...so they are less inclined to bother at all with marriage. At least they will wait longer to get married and tend to have kids later.

Those youngsters that do eventually decide they are interested in making the leap into a lifetime of commitment are:
(i) already sold on the concept of using technology to help...heck, they use it for everything else
(ii) know they need as much help as they can possibly get...their parents probably failed in their marriage attempt. They want to get it right!

So things are looking quite rosy for the enhanced services that offer more than online personals classifieds. People do need a helping hand. Personality profiling holds high promise. Is it delivering right now...not really, but it's trying hard. We have a large enough pool of people using these services now that real research can be carried on a scale that has never before been possible. That's how we'll be able to improve the future generation of personality profiling services.

I look forward to the day that services charge $100-$200 a month, provide personality profiling, dinner events, a guaranteed number of dates each month, and guidance on how to keep a specific relationship together based on each persons character, lifestyle and communication type.

Money is a great way to sort the wheat from the chaff, the serious (and committed to the process) from the not quite so serious. Money (monthlies) in itself is a great filter. Users are not satisfied with the current services in general so I'm sure we'll see an upward trend in what they are willing to pay to find the level of service they really need. The net is a GREAT medium. Users are hooked, but not happy*. Many of our online personals users have limited time and limited patience and plenty of money. They want more than just hope. They want service.

Personality profiling services hold high promise...and high value in the minds of users. In time, as our audiences become more sophisticated they will realise that they get what they pay for. $10 a month, $20 a month, $50 a month. I think they want more handholding and will, in time, be prepared to pay for it. If real world services (table for six, it's just lunch, great exepectations) can extract $1500-$2500 from motivated singles, the online personals world, which is vastly superior in many ways, should also.

So how can we up the ante? How to meet and exceed users expectations? Ultimately, the promise online dating sites make is that they will put people in front of people on dates. That's the measure of a good online personals service: the number of first, second and third dates.

Not sure about ISO9000. I've never heard it brought up at any of the online personals companies I've worked with yet (see www.courtlandbrooks.com). Users don't and probably won't demand it, so I can't see it happening.


* Users are hooked but not happy.
There are two kinds of online personals users. Those that met someone and are happy, and those that did not meet someone and are unhappy. Many users have poor photos and profiles and don't invest enough time.

wallybanners

Now this is a blog! WOW super stuff great job!

Sam Moorcroft, ChristianCafe.com

Intereresting comments from Nate Elliott. I think he hit the nail on the head when he stated, "...at the end of the day consumers don't seem to care about the bells and whistles. They want a critical mass of users in their local area with lots of photos and deep profiles. Deliver that and you have a good product. Most users just want online personals sites to do the basics well. All the rest is superfluous. ..."

How very true. We couldn't hope to compete on features with a site like, say, LavaLife.com, or even some of our lesser direct competitors (one, which shall remain nameless, has feature sets up the ying-yang). However, what LavaLife.com lacks is they are not a Christian singles-only site (not that they care; it is not their focus, but it is ours), and our lesser competitors have been so fixated on "cool" new features that they have missed the boat. This particular one dropped off the map this year, as its profile count slowly disappeared.

What we have managed to do well is the basics which Nate talks about. Of course, constantly adding new features to make the site easier to use and better matching up of our members does help. It's just that without that critical mass of people all the other stuff is merely fluff.


David Evans

Mostly a recap of stuff we already know but it's nice to see an analyst that has at least 5% of their focus on the industry. I do agree about deep profiles and meaningful search and people in your zip code.

Serious daters are becoming a larger segment of the market, but how can a niche site offer the high-end services that only top 5 sites can afford? Yahoo has failed to differentiate Premier Services from their regular offerings, match dropped their $500 service, and the next price point is $1,000. Where are the middling services?

I disagree that online dating is vastly superior to F2F services, although the two should be more tightly integrated.

Fernando Ardenghi

In a previous Mark Brooks' interview, Senator Cropsey said:

"Online dating companies need someone who has the authority to speak for the industry."


Nate Elliott did not even mention SITRAS, IDEAOASIS, IADW!!!

Who is / will be someone who has the authority to speak for the Industry?


Regards,

Fernando Ardenghi
Buenos Aires
Argentina
[email protected]


Bill Broadbent

Fernando,

I think that Senator Crospey would only qualify someone getting a piece of True's lobbying expentitures. Is that what they mean by follow the money? Of course you could never follow the money flow until they put RFID tags into the bills, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to follow the rhetoric. Have you noticed how they all dodge the tough questions? Where did they all go? The Doc has all but disappeared.

Bill Broadbent
CEO
Instinct Marketing

Catherine Jewett

Propsing Legislation in the US to force Online Dating Services to disclose information on known freudlant account to members contacted by a freudulant account during the period of time that the freudulant account had been live.

This happened to me personally. If the online dating site I paid to join had informed me that I had been contacted by a fredulant user,
I would have terminated that contact immediatley. I did not know, and was taken in by a very slick Nigerian online dating Scam Network. This was not just one person involved, this was a network of persons with freudulant documentation includng flight schedules, passports, Airline personnel. I did all reasonable to check out this identity of the person, but unfortunatley was taken for $1400.00. I am a single Mom with 2 kids. This story was unbleiveable. Please help me to support such legal action and help stop Online Freud Scams.

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