OPW INTERVIEW -- Mar 29 -- Eddy Ankrett is the Chairman and CEO of Dateline Holdings, PLC, which runs Dateline in the UK. He has big plans for the Dateline brand. (Full Disclosure: WhiteLabelDating.com is a client of Courtland Brooks). - Mark Brooks
What is the founding story of Dateline?
Dateline was established in 1966. It is the oldest established and most respected dating brand in the UK. It was started as an offline dating service when people didn’t have the Internet and was, in a way, computerized before the Internet. It has carried on from offline dating into what is now Dateline.co.uk.
What does Dateline offer compared to other services, and how has it evolved?
Dateline has three services. One is Dateline Classic, which is for people who don’t want to use the Internet – it’s purely a paper driven service. We put adverts into major newspapers and magazines in the UK, and people fill in a profile and send it back to Dateline. We then put them into the computer system; we do matching, and we send them three matches in the post.
We then have the Dateline.co.uk service, which is a typical Internet dating service that is very successful in its own right.
Then we have a brand called Dateline Platinum, which is the combination of the Internet and a personal service. Each applicant is visited in their own home and given background checks and interviewed.
What markets is Dateline focusing on?
Dateline is a UK based company. Part of the plan of partnering with WhiteLabelDating.com is to develop our service throughout Europe, and possibly throughout the world.
What is your relationship with WhiteLabelDating.com, and what made you decide to work with them?
About eight years ago I was Managing Director of Dateline, for about four years. I’ve been in the dating industry for 16 years, and kept an eye on Dateline because it’s a major brand. About six months ago I bought back Dateline with the backing of some fantastic fund managers. So it’s back in the hands of people who know dating. I’ve put a team of experienced dating professionals together. When we put the team together we asked ourselves “Who is the best company to support us from an online point of view?”
After some research, I came across Ross Williams of WhiteLabelDating.com, and found that his member conversion statistics, specifically for converting registered members into paying members, was the best I had ever seen. He also had the ability to make Google AdWords pay-per-click work. So if we spend $200,000 on pay-per-click, he has the ability to get $300,000 back.
He’s young and very progressive, as is his company, and we’ve now formed a fantastic working relationship. Since Dateline has been relaunched on the WhiteLabelDating.com system WhiteLabelDating.com say they’ve never seen a site with such fantastic statistics for not only registrations on Dateline, but also conversions to paying members. To say the partnership is a success is putting it mildly.
Why are you still running an offline dating service? Is there really a future in offline dating?
Dateline, to my knowledge, is one of the only companies in the country, if not the world, that is making online dating work with offline dating. Offline dating has a great future, in my opinion, because of the security check and the face-to-face element. I remember a UK TV program about a dating scam where loads of people, I think in Africa, were joining online dating sites and pretending to be members. So the Internet is open, and I’m sure things are being done to stop those sorts of scammers. WhiteLabelDating.com has some fantastic products designed to stop scammers reaching online members. But I do believe that offline dating has a fantastic future. I’ve spent the last 16 years in the offline/online dating space, and I’m very passionate about it.
At the end of the day you have to find the interviewers. You have to train them. They have to be presentable. They have to have experience. Dating is such a major industry. I know Ross at WhiteLabelDating.com has some solutions to increase the feeling of security and to stop scammers. People must feel secure when they visit dating websites.
What's your personal goal for Dateline?
Dating is a fabulous industry that brings phenomenal rewards. I’ve always said, I’m 63 now, and when I die, all I want etched on my tombstone is ‘This guy helped millions of people form happy relationships.’ And at the end of the day, what better job in the world could you have than helping people meet other people to form healthy, happy and successful relationships?