OPW INTERVIEW -- Feb 16, 2007 -- To join eHarmony users have to take the personality profiling test. All 436 questions. Only one other (top 20) dating site makes all new members take a personality profile - PerfectMatch. Here's my interview with Duane Dahl, the CEO. I also interviewed Duane in June 2005. - Mark Brooks
I was floored when I saw Dr. Phil with Perfectmatch.
Last year after Perfectmatch was featured on Dr. Phil, it gave us a unique opportunity to develop our relationship with the Dr. Phil people, and spend some time getting to know them. We were interested in pursuing a partnership arrangement, however, at the end of the day, it didn’t pencil out. Eventually, the Match folks constructed a lucrative deal for him – I’m not sure how that’s penciling out for them at this point.
What new TV and movie placements do you have in the works?
We’re always looking for significant seamless integration in TV and film. It’s an ongoing process. We’re in development on a prime time series we’re very excited about. On the film side, we have a couple of projects, one late summer, and one in the fall that we’ll be announcing shortly. Additionally, we’ve got some ideas for 2007 regarding developing creative partnerships. We had great success with Whirlpool in 2006, with a series of events. Currently, we’re working with the Case Foundation (Steve and Jean Case) participating in a “Get Engaged” volunteer program we’re promoting in February.
Why do you like these placements better then Internet advertising?
I wouldn’t say we like them better. We certainly think there’s a significant value in performance-based online partnerships and well placed online media. Add that to the search mix, our keyword business with the Google folks and Overture, and we like the blend online. It’s an important part of our business.
When we first started looking at television opportunities, we were really trying to be creative and gain as many impressions as possible. We were on a very limited budget, as we were rolling out the site. And, as we experienced with the Lifetime original movie “Perfect Romance” and then the Warner Bros. summer hit, “Must Love Dogs”, the right opportunities with seamless integration can be fantastic. The key with the entertainment integration opportunities is just to be selective and make sure there’s a perfect match. We feel fortunate we’ve had some great studio partners and noted success.
Have you searched out any newspaper deals?
No, that hasn’t been our focus. We’ve really focused on larger scale online partners, keywords and now television.
eHarmony said it would never offer instant messaging a while back. Would Perfectmatch ever offer IM?We currently don’t offer instant messaging, but I would never, say never. It’s evaluated on an ongoing basis. We’ve found our membership has embraced the communication system currently in place. We routinely survey our membership to ensure we’re meeting their needs and we continue to provide the best approach to finding a mate online. Our search feature, which of course eHarmony hasn’t cracked, and our communication tools are constantly reviewed.
How about voice and video communications?
I think video is very difficult at this stage. We’ve seen a few people attempt to launch video. Live video gravitates towards sexually explicit material. This medium is something geared for those who’re interested in a quick hook up, and more deviant behavior seems to gravitate towards live video. I would expect to see video more on the younger skewing down-market dating sites rather than the more credible 25+ sites where the members are looking for relationships. There’re a lot of issues with video that are challenging to the consumer. Also, if you’re allowing an individual to upload video, it’s incumbent upon the community to review every second of the video content before approving it onto the site, as people (shockingly enough!) will upload videos that contain inappropriate content. There’s nothing worse on a dating/relationship site to not know what is behind door #3 and being presented with an inappropriate image, video or an email from a spammer. As the Internet and media evolves, we’ll see an appropriate integration. However, I do think it’s going to take some time.
Do you think voice connections can be successful through Internet dating sites?
I think with today’s technology, the ability to simply connect with an individual through voice is something that does have value. It’s only a matter of making it as seamless as possible. We looked at a secure phone service back in 2001. One of the challenges was requiring individuals who had already gone through the sign up process, to go and create completely new accounts. It just needed seamlessly integrating onto one platform. We’ve come a long way here over the past five years, and I think as time goes on, we’ll see more and more people successfully integrating the voice technology that’s available.
How else is Perfectmatch clearly differentiated from eHarmony?
Most online daters haven’t been satisfied in the past. By the time the member comes to Perfectmatch, we recognize they’re serious about finding a relationship. Our approach is significantly different as we offer both highly compatible matches provided AND comprehensive search capabilities. We’re a step above eHarmony with our in-depth member profiles AND our member services team, the most experienced team in the space. This team works behind the scenes proactively dedicating themselves to ensuring the best possible user experience, from log-on though log-out.
Our members leverage the real world experience and expertise of Dr. Pepper Schwartz and benefit from our matching system, Duet®, allowing us to take into account the “whole” member, a 360◦ view of the member, helping us to find a highly compatible match. We believe the black box approach eHarmony has taken is difficult. However, give them credit – they’ve done a great job ramping up their business through a very aggressive TV spend. We expect to see them loosening the reigns a bit in 2007/2008, continuing to move away from its Christian origins, as they attempt to become more mainstream and more efficient with their member acquisition strategies.
At the end of the day, when faced with the offerings of Perfectmatch vs. eHarmony, we’ve seen members believe we have the best approach to finding real love online.
What are your goals for the year?
You’ll find us working offline more aggressively – both television and radio. We think there continues to be an excellent opportunity with television. In fact, we’re rolling out a new spot within the next two weeks. Online, we’ll continue to work to become more efficient with search, and we look to expand our relationship with our existing partners MSNBC, iVillage and Oxygen, while solidifying a couple of other key performance based partnerships.