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HookupBucks Bridges Dating Gap

Stewart Tongue
Any webmaster that has been paying attention in recent years is already aware of dozens of dating sites on the market. Mainstream mass-marketed sites like eHarmony cater to the more banal relationship interests of generic America, while other adult niche dating sites cater to a hardcore market seeking casual encounters. Now, one of the most successful companies in the history of adult online marketing has announced the launch of the HookupBucks affiliate program to promote the WeCanHookup.com line of dating sites.

Recently it was announced that adult industry veteran John Skorick, known to many as the former Director of Business Development at Jettis and CEO of WegCash, was leading the new team formed to build the HookupBucks brand. XBIZ sat down with Mr. Skorick to discuss the launch, the reasons why he believes so strongly in the product and the solid foundation he believes it is all being built upon.

A key element to the successful launch of any new product or service is differentiating it from existing entrants in the market. HookupBucks appears to be carving out a unique identity among webmasters and consumers in two important ways.

"The HookupBucks program is equipped with all your standard promotional tools necessary to sell a dating product but our main focus and what sets us apart is dealing one on one with affiliates to create custom tools catered to their needs and their traffic sources," said Skorick. "We feel it is extremely important to maintain a smooth transition from the affiliate website to our product in order to avoid customer confusion and to maximize earning potential for the affiliate. For example, we will create a white-labeled version of our site with a logo and color scheme matching that of the affiliate site. This will also be hosted on a domain which the affiliate chooses and, again, ensures a smooth flow process for the consumer. This method also helps to continue branding the affiliate website. In my mind customization is the key and we will build tailor-made solutions for any and all affiliates who wish to work with us. I've taken this approach with other projects that I've been previously involved in and have found it to be tremendously successful."

"Additionally, from a consumer standpoint, the product focuses less on the hardcore sexual aspect of adult dating and more on the social networking aspect of online dating, with an adult spin," Skorick said. "We've felt this is a fresh approach to the adult dating model and is more in-line with current Internet usage trends. This model will also prove to be more profitable for revenue sharing affiliates, as we will be presenting our users with common social networking offers, such as games, gifts for other users and so on. These products are small-ticket items but add up considerably and we will be adding revenue earned from these products to the revenue share payouts."

The obvious focus on offering tools and customizable promo options for affiliates would seem to be wise given the current climate of the industry, where many webmasters are trying new traffic models successfully and the more traditional 'throw a banner up' methods of marketing seem to be decreasingly effective as consumers become jaded toward that form of stimuli. However, the attempt to fill the gap between existing mainstream dating sites and adult dating sites seems to be much more significant. By incorporating social networking elements into a dating site and walking the fine line between marriage-focused and promiscuity-focused competitors, HookupBucks may be able to capture market share by making inroads into both existing markets simultaneously.

Timing is also a crucial factor in the success or failure of any new startup site. While many webmasters seem to believe the sky is falling, and others think dating is already oversaturated, what makes now the right time for HookupBucks to go live?

"Dating is a large, very successful niche and has been for some time," Skorick opined. "Additionally, more and more people are looking to the Internet to meet others due to a number of reasons including convenience, safety and even cost effectiveness. We also felt that there was an opportunity to take the dating model and put a fresh spin on it with a social networking feel."

The decision by MaxCash to enter the dating market with the creation of HookupBucks is not surprising. They can leverage their existing support staff, traffic sources, affiliate relationships and managerial expertise to produce a new dating entity backed by the kind of company necessary for it to take root quickly and grow rapidly. As to why the HookupBucks brand is being presented as a separate entity; "MaxCash is a very well-known brand and is also a very trusted brand. In launching this new product we did not want to lose sight of that, however we felt very strongly that this is just that; a new product," Skorick offered. "This new product is in a completely different market than MaxCash and both the founders of MaxCash and myself personally have very high expectations for this venture and felt it necessary that it have its own entity completely dedicated to it. Some of the familiar faces from MaxCash will be helping with support of HookupBucks, however we have also dedicated staff specifically for the HookupBucks project as well."

The HookupBucks program is slated for official launch on February 1, 2010, but there have already been some soft announcements on adult industry message-boards like JustBlowMe.com and the response from well-known webmasters has been notably enthusiastic, with several saying publicly that they wanted to be included in the site beta prior to its official release date.

"We have been A/B testing our system vs. that of some of the other major dating sites and the results have us converting at nearly an identical rate, a shade higher in some cases and a shade lower in others," said Skorick. "Additionally, we have had invaluable input from the affiliates who have been testing our system and some of the changes they've recommended have given us very positive results. Needless to say, we're expecting big things from this product in 2010 and beyond."

Backed by MaxCash, a company that already has a long track record; it is safe to say that HookupBucks is being built with long term goals in mind. When asked what he thought the dating market would be like in three to five years, Skorick had this opinion to offer:

"I believe the adult dating market will only grow," he said, adding that "The fact of the matter is that consumers are increasingly looking to the Internet for all types of content. One of the nice things about dating is that it is non-competing with nearly all other markets; porn included. Adult dating and porn co-exist very, very well and as the number of consumers looking for porn increases, the number of those who are attracted to the dating product will also increase and vice versa. The two markets help one another."

With trusted industry veterans managing the program, major backers funding it and well-known affiliates already pushing traffic toward it, the gap between the adult and mainstream dating markets may soon be filled by HookupBucks — the one company that is actively trying to hook both formally distinct markets together effectively.

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