opinion

Dating and Social Networking Markets

Joe D

At the recent Barcelona iDate/Social Networking Conference, following my first WebmasterAccess Amsterdam, I caught up with Nate Elliott, Senior Analyst with Jupiter Research. Mr. Elliott leads coverage of the European Marketing and Advertising arenas and possesses keen insight on current and predicted trends in this huge market.

The news is mixed, but the best news for EU dating sites and US companies seeking to sustain growth numbers is that the western EU dating spend, currently valued at 64% of the US market, is catching up to the US numbers. Current global dating growth is approximately 10% annually, and usage trends are declining. There are fewer total users and paying users are relatively flat. And all this - with only 5% of the total dating population as paid users of dating sites. The EU dating companies are currently profiting from observance of US trends, where current rising revenue figures are credited to price increases and retention rather than new entrants. The EU is expected to see increases over the next five years before user growth declines, and niche dating sites are helping sustain these expectations. It has also become evident that US offline advertising is not driving new traffic.

The Jupiter Research indicates that price is the top reason dating site visitors do not subscribe, but only 20% use free sites. Comfort level is the top reason online singles won’t visit dating sites. Chief complaints are an unwillingness to trust profiles, paying for dating services, disclosing personal information, inability to find desirable people, embarrassment, and again, too expensive. Approximately 10% are looking for dates on social networking sites instead, and an additional 10% just don’t know what to put into their profile or what to say. Bad news for the mobile industry is that 92% of EU online users have no interest in using mobile dating…Two thirds of EU dating users say they would not pay for any mobile dating content or services so mobile dating is expected to remain small compared to online. Another interesting research result is that although ‘friends & family’ and ‘work’ remain the top two areas through which people have met their ‘significant others,’ ‘we met online’ is now number three, and ‘met in a bar or club’ is down to number six.

The bottom-line message from this conversation is that EU Paid Online Dating is expected to experience huge growth for the next few years, so position your company with the best products and the best billing to garner the most benefit from this trend.

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