opinion

Online Dating: Continues to Be Popular, Profitable

Alex Henderson

Professional dating services were around long before the advent of the Internet, but the Internet has expanded the market for dating services considerably — and in 2013, the online dating sector will continue to be popular, profitable and competitive.

A major trend to look forward to in online dating in 2013 is diversity. A variety of tastes and interests can be found among online daters, and the online dating sector will continue to reflect that. Niche-specific dating sites will maintain their popularity, catering to daters who are looking for very specific things. BDSM dating sites will remain viable, as will gay dating sites and sites appealing to daters with alt-porn tastes (for example, goths who only want to date other goths, daters who prefer a punk look, or people who have a lot of tattoos and only want to date people who also have a lot of tattoos).

Despite all the financial upheaval taking place in parts of the world, dating sites are still doing plenty of business.

Niche-specific dating sites don’t pretend to be all things to all people; that was their key to success in 2012 and will continue to be their key to success in 2013. A gay site that is aimed specifically at BDSM leathermen, for example, isn’t going to target gay men who have no interest in BDSM. And in 2013, sites that cater to esoteric micro-niches can remain profitable if they market themselves wisely and aggressively. With the popularity of smartphones showing no signs of slowing down, dating sites will need to be as mobile-friendly as possible in 2013.

Online dating will continue to be a very international phenomenon in 2013, appealing to Internet users not only in the United States and Canada, but also, in Europe, Australia and Asia. And one thing that owners of dating sites will need to keep in mind in 2013 is the language barrier, which can be much more challenging in some countries than it is in others. In the Netherlands, for example, many daters are multilingual and are more than happy to date people who don’t speak Dutch as their primary language. Yet Spain, on the other hand, is full of Spanish speakers who only want to date other Spanish speakers.

Gary Taylor, partner account manager for WhiteLabelDating.com, has stressed that dating sites need to know as much as possible about the linguistic preferences of daters in the countries they are targeting. Taylor recently said that although monolingual dating sites continue to dominate online dating in Europe, “multilingual dating sites are becoming slightly more popular” on that continent. That trend is likely to continue in 2013.

Taylor has said that in Europe, niche-oriented dating continues to have an enthusiastic audience. Some of the biggest niche markets in European online dating, according to Taylor, have been the BDSM, cougar/MILF and BBW niches. And in 2013, those are some of the niches that webmasters should keep a close eye on.

In 2013, cougar/MILF dating in the U.S. won’t be a carbon copy of cougar/MILF dating in Europe. Florian Tauber, head of product management for Lustagenten.com, has pointed out that in Europe, those who patronize cougar dating sites tend to prefer attractive but natural-looking women. “I would like to point out that authenticity and private profiles are the most successful in the sector of MILFs,” Tauber recently said. “To talk openly, the users prefer a hot, sexy, natural-looking 40-year-old instead of a plastic Barbie, as everybody thinks that this profile is faked.”

Despite all the financial upheaval taking place in parts of the world, dating sites are still doing plenty of business. And in 2013, the dating sites that market themselves smartly can continue to reap the rewards.

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