LA TIMES - Feb 14 - Piper Jaffray Investment Research predicted U.S. spending on online dating would reach $1.7 billion annually by 2013, and $1.2 billion was spent in 2008. The Internet is essentially the world's largest bar, explains Mark Brooks, editor of OnlinePersonalsWatch. The first step is figuring out which nightspot is for you: There are those with no cover charges, PlentyofFish and OKCupid, and hookup spots Fling.com and OnlineBootyCall.com. There are "theme nights" geared toward particular interests, such as BikerPlanet.com, and "neighborhood watering holes" based on religion or culture, such as JDate or AsiaFriendFinder. There's comfort in name recognition from eHarmony and Match. Or get a yenta through eLove.com.
"One of our more popular sites as of late is DateaCougar.com," says Stephen Ventura, VP of First Beat Media, which owns GothScene.com, BikerPlanet.com, FitnessDates.com and others. Want a dash of romance with your social networking? Brooks says to look to Zoosk. It syncs with a users' Facebook's profile page. Spark's Kizmeet is attempting something similar. Still, Brooks says it's unlikely that social networking sites will kill the online dating market. "If people are anonymous, people tend to be more aggressive and more outspoken," he says. "On an Internet dating site, if you want to cut somebody off, you can easily. When you're on a social network, you have to be [polite] because their friends are watching."
Match.com's mobile members alone grew 250% from 2008 to 2009, says Whitney Casey, Match's relationship expert. Industry experts Brooks and CyberDatingExpert.com's, Julie Spira also praise GPS-based mobile applications like Skout and Foursquare. "I'm looking forward to people using Internet dating on the iPad," Brooks adds. "You can look up a profile very easily on that format. The iPhone is still a phone." Spira says to look to webcam dating sites, Speeddate.com or WooMe.com. Hitwise reports that visits to free dating sites like PlentyofFish rose 19% over the previous year.
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