When Allan Henning took his first baby steps in the computer dating arena by launching his own mainstream dating site in 2001, the initial results were meager, to say the least. All he had to show for his $10,000 investment was a trickle of sales.
But that didn’t last long. Almost overnight the trickle became a deluge and Henning’s little operation morphed into Dating Gold, one of the largest affiliate and dating programs in adult. The company has proved that dating and webcam sites can make a perfect marriage.
The affiliate model in general has changed somewhat they are still affiliates, but a lot of them don’t really promote adult products anymore.
“Business has been going very well for us in the dating and webcam areas,” says Henning, CEO of Dating Gold. “Dating sites definitely work well with cam sites, especially for us. There are only a couple of companies that have what we have. We own our own dating platform and we are one of the few that have our own cam companies. That includes the cam software and the models. It’s all ours. It’s not licensed from anyone else. That allows us to integrate our cams directly into our dating sites. It’s seamless for our users if they’re on a dating site to see our girls live on cam. They only have to click over and they can start doing the private chat with the girls. It’s much more integrated than with other companies, which have to send customers away to the cam site.”
One of the more pleasant recent surprises in online dating and webcam sites has been the explosion of mobile phone customers. Even the forward-thinking Henning has been amazed by the volume of sales his firm has been receiving, and there seems to be no ceiling in this market.
“More and more of our users are using their mobile phones to access our sites,” Henning says. “A couple of years ago it was five percent [of our sales], but now it’s gone to 30 percent using mobile. It’s been increasing pretty much every day. This convinced us a year ago to create mobile versions of our sites which allow customers to use all the same features that they could on the web.
“A lot of people are spending on the mobile sites. They’re actually entering their credit cards. I think people are just killing time on their phones and often they’ll sign up with our sites on the web. Once they do that, we email them, and a lot of people check their email on their phones. This leads them to our mobile site, which is designed specifically for their phones. We also advertise and that helps, so we will be increasing our advertising on other mobile sites.”
This advertising and the general spike in mobile users has created another surprise. Women are using dating sites in much greater numbers today. This has prompted Henning to add a new site to the Dating Gold collection, Untrue.com.
“That site is more for affairs,” Henning explains. “We find that females prefer that site over a sex dating site and it’s getting an impressive female audience. That site has helped our growth this past year, especially the last quarter. I guess we can call it ‘the infidelity market.’ It’s been a pleasant surprise.”
Despite the marketing successes, Dating Gold would not have been able to maintain its high sales figures without remaining ahead of the curve in online technology. Although this requires costly research and development, Henning believes it is vital in the ever-changing Internet marketplace.
“We do just about everything ourselves in terms of development,” he adds. “In about a month we’re rolling out our new cam platform. It’s all high definition and it’s a much quicker site. It’s part of WebCamClub.com, and we’re continually improving the experience for our customers.”
Henning won’t allow his employees to forget the Dating Gold affiliates either. The company continues to be one of the top performers in affiliate conversions and payouts. The newest payout that Dating Gold offers is called the Single Op Join.
“It used to be that affiliates had to confirm their email before you pay them,” Henning explains. “In our new offer, affiliates just need to fill out a form and we pay them a commission, so the email doesn’t have to be confirmed. That was a big project for us last year and now we’re up in the five dollar-plus payout-per-profile range.
“One of our standard promotions now is offering $150 per sale on our Webcam Club site. We keep our affiliates happy and we’re pretty well known in the industry as being reputable with our affiliates. This is something we’re very proud of.”
There are some in the adult industry who believe the affiliate business model has become obsolete, but Henning is not among them.
“The affiliate model in general has changed somewhat,” he admits. “They are still affiliates, but a lot of them don’t really promote adult products anymore. They can make more money promoting other things. But there are a lot of affiliates coming from mainstream that can compete in adult. They almost find it easier to be in adult because they are so knowledgeable on doing media buys. They’re coming from large companies, so now we’re working with larger affiliates.
“Another thing is that we started working with ad networks, which have their own affiliates. So what the affiliates have done is just sign up with larger affiliate networks so they have a lot more offers to push. Then we just work directly with that network to run our offer.”
Dating Gold also continues to offer its highly successful white labeling of dating and cam sites, allowing affiliates to set up a white label version of the cam site and the dating site for themselves.
“The unique thing about our white label, as opposed to our competitors,” Henning says, “is that we offer affiliates the opportunity to do their own billing. If they want to set up a dating site, we can do all the technology, all the software, all of the back end, and all the profiles. But they can do their own billing if they want to. This is an advantage to affiliates who want to control their own credit card information. We also offer a version in which we can do the billing for them if they don’t want to mess with that.”
With so many services keeping affiliates happy, it’s no wonder why Dating Gold has held its impressive lead in the dating and webcam marketplace.