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OPW -- Apr 2 -- Just a few weeks ago the likes of NPR were reporting that while the economy is hurting, online dating seems to be booming as people seek companionship and understanding during hard times. However, Spark Networks, who are responsible for such sites as JDate.com, ChristianMingle.com and BlackSingles.com, showed down numbers in their Q4 results. Paid memberships were down 11% from Q4 2007, and down 12% for the full year. Revenue followed the same trend, showing an 18% decrease to $13.2 million for the quarter compared to $16 million for Q4 2007. Spark Networks were down 12% ($57.3m) for the full year compared.
During Q1 2007, the Chairman and CEO of Spark Networks, Adam Berger, reported that “JDate.com grew for the third straight quarter following last year’s price increase” and they launched an additional website, JDate.co.uk, for the U.K. Spark Networks did not report separately on JDate.com, but lumped it in with its other Jewish Networks.
By the end of 2008, numbers for Jewish Networks were no longer growing, noting a 5% decrease in revenue for Q4 and up by a mere $100,000 from the prior year. Considering they added a whole new site to this category, you would expect to see a more significant revenue increase for the year. Paying subscribers were also down by 5% over the previous quarter, down 7% compared to Q4 2007, and down 4% for the year. Berger did note his disappointment with second half trends and the fourth quarter in particular, “as revenue and subscribers decreased sequentially in each online segment”. It should also be noted, however, that JDate experienced an “overhaul” in Q4 and began a re-launch in early 2009 for what Spark Networks clearly hopes will be a better financial year for online dating.
Interestingly, it is reported on Compete.com that JDate is actually up by 8.6% for the year, though this is not reflected in Spark’s report because of the aforementioned Jewish Networks lumping. After JDate.com, the next 3 largest Jewish dating sites are Frumster.com, which was down by 12.6% for the year, JewishFriendFinder.com, which was up 1.8%, and JewishCafe.com, which was up by 12.9% according to Compete.com. Based on this outside information, it begs the question of Spark Networks as to which of its Jewish Networks sites are dragging down the numbers for the year, since JDate seems to be doing rather well.
As Berger noted, revenue was mostly down across the board for Q4, as well as for the year as a whole. 'General Market Networks' (AmericanSingles.com) posted a 25% decrease for the quarter and 51% for the year, though Spark Networks is attributing this largely to a 59% decrease in the marketing expenditure. Spark has been winding down the once category leading AmericanSingles since it decided to go the niche route and buy MingleMatch back in 2005. 'Other Affinity Networks' came out about even with the prior quarter at $3.5 million, and was even up 3% compared to the previous year. Offline & Other Businesses was down 54% compared to Q4 2007, although it was up 18% from the prior quarter, it was still down 22% for the year.
To increase their bottom line Spark Networks also decreased operating and direct marketing expenses for 2008. Operating expenses, which include customer service, sales and marketing, and technical operations, were reported to be down 12% from the previous quarter, and down 19% from 2007 end of year. Direct marketing expenses were down 27% from the previous quarter, and down 29% for the year. Perhaps they should be increasing this, instead?
Sure, Spark is down, but how about the rest of the dating industry. How is YOUR dating site doing year-over-year now compared to last year, now that Valentines is over? Your comments please.
MARKETWIRE -- May 1 -- Spark Networks (AMEX LOV), home to JDate, American Singles to name a few just announced their Q1 results to investors. Overall revenue is down 6% over the prior quarter, but due to lower operating costs and continued growth from JDate, Spark still saw an increase in net income of $1.6 million dollars. They also repurchased 801,000 outstanding shares. CEO Adam Berger: "JDate.com grew for the third straight quarter following last year's price increase and we continued JDate's international expansion with the launch of JDate.co.uk for the United Kingdom. In addition, we accelerated our ad sales initiative, increasing advertising revenue 30% over the prior quarter."
The full article was originally published at CNN Money, but is no longer available.
NY TIMES -- Apr 27 -- A growing number of people have found love on dating sites that pair members based on a specific shared interest or background, like Nerdsatheart.com, DateMyPet.com, STDmatch.net and Veggielove.com. "Singles are increasingly eager to narrow the audience and really target their needs," said Mark Brooks, a consultant who keeps his own blog, OnlinePersonalsWatch.com. "It's the same reason why Procter&Gamble makes so many detergents. We are all drawn to things that cater to our very specific desires." According to Hitwise there are now 1,378 U.S. dating sites, up from 876 three years ago. Mr. Brooks estimates that 44% of those sites in the U.S. are niche sites, up from 35% in 2006. Large companies like Match.com, eHarmony, Yahoo Personals and SinglesNet.com have the general market cornered, Mr. Brooks said, "the only real entrepreneurial opportunities left in the online dating world lie in the niche market." FarmersOnly.com has attracted 90,000 members so far, 50,000 in the last year alone. One month's membership costs $15.95. Mr. Brooks said the most successful niche sites pair people by race, sexual orientation or religion. The 20 most popular dating sites this year as ranked by Hitwise include JDate, Christian Mingle and ChristianCafe.com, Manhunt, Love From India, Amigos, Asian People Meet, and Shaadi. "A few years ago, a company called Spark Networks was putting major funding into its general dating site, American Singles," Mr. Brooks said. "But when executives saw that the Jewish market was huge and relatively untouched, they switched gears and ratcheted up JDate." FULL ARTICLE @ NY TIMES. Also in THE LEDGER
OPW -- Jan 2 -- Online Personals Watch is for online personals marketing managers and executives to stay ahead of the news, and for the press to research the industry. It's not really designed for end users. Having said that, I make a few bucks from affiliate text links. $5k last year. Not too shabby. I thought I'd share the conversion numbers with you, for open discussion. I'm listing companies with which I had more than 1000 click throughs. I'm told affiliates will usually send an affiliate program 300 clicks before drawing initial conclusions on conversions. Here's the rankings drawn from stats for January 1st 2005, through December 25th 2006. I'll redo them for a smaller date range later this quarter.
|Dating site||Affiliate System||Total Commission||Total Uniques||Income per Unique|
|#5||Yahoo Personals||Commission Junction||$1,595||6780||24c|
|#7||American Singles||Commission Junction||$285||3591||7.9c|
and Love Access
|Both In House||$0||2923/1916||0c|
* I switched out to TRUE under Primaryads.com and they are paying out a little better.
** I've not had a good experience with LinkShare.
All the sites pay out slightly differently. Where I had an option, I opted to be paid by % of revenue generated. I've focused on Dollars per Unique for this comparison. If you want the full spreadsheet, email me at and I'll send you the stats including the number of registrants, paying members, revenue and additional ratios. Your comments please…
THE PARADIGM SHIFT BLOG -- Dec 5 -- Paid dating sites have now all adopted the strategy I created 3 years ago and taken it to the extreme. Check out google searches like garrison dating. Date.com Matchmaker.com take the top spots. Followed by match.com, AmericanSingles, Meetic and Match.com . Matchdoctor and others have started retooling their entire sites to try and rank high for local queries. Its like everyone just caught on in the last couple of months.
The full article was originally published at The Paradigm Shift, but is no longer available.
THE SEATTLE TIMES -- Nov 15 -- Critics call them gold diggers. But the women who prowl online dating Web sites like Wealthymen.com and Sugardaddie.com know what they want — and they're not afraid to flaunt it. "I am looking for someone who will take me on trips, spa getaways, to the salon, clothes and lingerie shopping," a 'sugarbabe' on Sugardaddie. Cristine Gomez, 21, recently dated an older man she met on Wealthymen for three months, in which he paid her rent check and car payments, and picked up the bill on her college tuition. "The site," she says, "is about being spoiled." One sugar daddy requests a woman who can "easily change from a pair of jeans to a small black cocktail dress." Another describes himself as a "race car driver looking for his red Ferrari." Men are typically forced into the role of the pursuer on mainstream dating Web sites like Match.com and Americansingles.com, where the male-to-female ratio is 70:30. At Wealthymen women outnumber men 5 to 1. Since the site launched in March 2006, Wealthymen.com has signed up 250,000 women and 100,000 men, while Sugardaddie.com ranks well above the 100,000 mark.
The full article was originally published at Seattle Times, but is no longer available.
Mark Brooks: Wealthymen was created by the same team who created Webdate.com. It's been a great niche for them. SugarDaddyForMe is also doing quite well. Guys want more attention, but surely they want it from women who aren't so obviously scouring them for their loot. Your comments please...
PR NEWSWIRE -- May 16 -- The new BlackSingles launches with over 250,000 active members and enhanced searching capabilities. Spark Networks operates ~25 online personals communities focused on religious, ethnic or special interest groups - JDate, AmericanSingles, Relationships, PrimeSingles.
The full article was originally published at PR Newswire, but is no longer available.
SPARK NETWORKS NEWSROOM -- Apr 27 -- JDate revenue and average paying subscribers increased 8% and 13%. During Q1, Spark redesigned and rebranded its Christian community (ChristianMingle.com) as Relationships.com, already the most-visited Christian community. Revenue for Q1 2006 was $16.8 million, up 2% on Q1 2005. Spark has reduced spending for AmericanSingles in order to lower customer acquisition costs. Net income was $710,000. EBITDAS profit of $3.4 million, the best to date, up 10%. Direct subscriber acquisition costs for JDate was $13.20, up 47%, and $35.19 for AmericanSingles, up 37%.
The full article was originally published at Spark Networks website, but is no longer available.
Mark Brooks: One can argue that niche dating sites could be quashed by the big dating sites improving their search capability (e.g. reverse search). However, that argument doesn't take into account the power of a niche dating brand; the attraction of a focused site geared towards a particular demographic, interest, fetish, etc. E.g. Jdate (Jewish), Webdate (first date on a webcam), ChristianCafe.com (Christians), DateMyPet (Pet Lovers), Sexsearch (Sex Lovers?). All are powerful brands, worlds apart. Specific interest dating sites will endure and enjoy especially good word-of-mouth marketing efficiencies, if they do a good job. Spark (American Singles) has recognised, 'if you can beat 'em, might as well join 'em,' and is shifting it's attention to it's niche dating sites.
SPARK NETWORKS NEWSROOM -- Feb 16 -- "2005 was a turnaround year in which we made significant strides towards right-sizing our cost structure and generating cash flow from operations," stated David Siminoff, Spark Networks CEO. "We begin 2006 newly listed on the American Stock Exchange. We are energized by recent technology improvements and are poised for balanced growth with significant operating leverage." "Our next level of growth will come from leveraging the communities we acquired in the MingleMatch acquisition in order to move quickly into new vertical markets..."
Record results for JDate. Revenue grew 9%, to $26 million. Other Businesses segment grew by 72%, partially driven by the purchase of MingleMatch in Q2. Q4 revenue was $16.6 million, down 3%. 2005 revenue was $65.5 million, up 1%. Q4 net loss was $403,000, compared to a net loss of $1.6 million. 2005 net loss was $1.4 million, compared to a net loss of $11.6 million for 2004. The net loss for 2005 includes compensation expense related to share options of $2.7 million. EBITDAS (EBITDA adjusted to remove share compensation expense) for Q4 was $2.0 million, compared to $7,000 for Q4 2004. EBITDAS for 2005 was $6.0 million, compared to an EBITDAS loss of $6.0 million in 2004.
Q4 2005 revenue for AmericanSingles was $6.7 million, down 22%. 2005 revenue was $29.2 million, down 17%. Jdate average paying subscribers was 73,700, during Q4, up 8%. AmericanSingles average paying subscribers in Q4 was 91,900, down 29%. Q4 average paying subscribers for Other Businesses
was 58,600, up 88%. Total Q4 average paying subscribers for Q4 was 224,200, down 2%.
Direct subscriber acquisition costs for JDate in Q4 was $12.25, up 15%. For 2005 it was $12.70, up 57%. "...the marketing mix has shifted from a primarily online, direct marketing effort to one that now includes a wide mix of offline initiatives..." stated Siminoff. Subscriber acquisitoin costs for AmericanSingles in Q4 was $36.66, compared to $36.52 for Q4 2004. For 2005 it was $35.16, down 19%, compared to $43.29, for 2004. And for Other Businesses in Q4 it was $29.73.
The full article was originally published at Spark Networks website, but is no longer available.
Jan 17 -- I'm reviewing annual reports and noticed Spark Networks now has a lot of niche sites under it's wing after acquiring Minglematch. 3 month Alexa ranks are in brackets. AdventistSinglesConnection.com (59k), AmericanSingles.com (767), AsianSinglesConnection.com (174k), BBWPersonalsPlus.com (37k), BlackSinglesConnection.com (14k), CanadianPersonals.net (163k), CatholicMingle.com (54k), ChristianMingle.com (5k), CollegeLuv.com (83k), Cupid.co.il (4k), Date.ca (9k), Date.co.uk (46k) DeafSinglesConnection.com (86k), FaceLink.com <discontinued> (109k), Glimpse.com (41k), GreekSinglesConnection.com (55k), IndianMatrimonialNetwork.com (160k), InterRacialSingles.net (43k), IranianSinglesConnection.com (298k), ItalianSinglesConnection.com (132k), JDate.co.il (3k), JewishMingle.com (27k), LatinSinglesConnection.com (37k), LDSMingle.com (12k), MilitarySinglesConnection.com (145k), MuslimMatrimonialsNetwork.com (18k), PrimeSingles.net (186k), SilverSingles.com <forwards into American Singles> (767), SingleParentsMingle.com (5k), UKSinglesConnection.com (256k)
Mark Brooks: Why did Spark kill off Silver Singles I wonder? (It's 'powered by' American Singles now). Seniorfriendfinder.com (9k) is now the 50+ category leader.
Dec 27 -- The November rankings are live (see left bar). Nielsen has tidied social networks Myspace, Facebook, hi5 and Friendster out of their online dating rankings, leaving Yahoo Personals (1), Match (2) and TRUE (3) with the November 2005 top spots.
Not much change with the Alexa rankings. Plentyoffish and Friendfinder bump Date.com down two spots to #6. For the social networking rankings Facebook bumps Friendster out of the top 3. Myspace now leads the social networking category, followed by Hi5 and Facebook.
TRUE trumps American Singles on the Hitwise top 15 rankings for November and takes the #5 spot. Singlesnet moves up one spot to #7 and wrestles Plentyoffish and adult oriented Mate1 down one place. MSN leans on it's online dating and moves up five full places to take the #10 position. Niche site Blackpeoplemeet impressively moves up a spot to #11 and Perfect Match gets squeezed out to #12. Youngsters online dating site, Hotornot, moves up a spot to #13. - Mark Brooks
PR NEWS -- Dec 9 -- AmericanSingles.com announced a newly re-designed website that encourages greater member communication. New site features include: a streamlined registration process and one-click login. A new time-saving 'Gallery View" option allows members to browse large numbers of photos and profiles at one time. Video IM and chat rooms. Hot list menus allow members to keep track of the members they're interested in and those who've shown an interest in them.
BUSINESS WIRE --Nov 3 -- According to the Keynote Customer Experience Rankings, LoveHappens (Tickle) and AmericanSingles.com are the top sites for online customer experience based on research on 1,150 customers. A companion study, based on research with 2,000, found Y! Personals to be leading in the competition for new online dating customers. TRUE ranked #3 driven in part by the view that the site is "safe," "ethical" and "trustworthy."