Evolving World of Dating Sites Discussed at XBIZ Summit

CHICAGO -- Two top executives and an industry lawyer took on the topic of the rapidly changing world of dating sites at the XBIZ Summit in Chicago on Saturday.

Shelly Crash, founder and president of social-networking site Swurve; Jay Davis, Dating Gold’s network manager; and industry attorney Larry Walters of the Walters Law Group joined the “Dating for Dollars: Promising a Personal Touch” seminar conducted by XBIZ’s Stephen Yagielowicz.

Dating sites have found a way to work well with cam sites, Davis said.

“Dating and cams actually go hand in hand,” Davis said. “We see with our dating crossing over into the cam market -- it's around with every nine we send over to the cam market we usually pick up one customer there.

“With Dating Gold, one membership get’s you into both of them.”

Through the years, the landscape has changed for webmaster programs, Davis said.

He noted that affiliate action has changed through the years, and that many are bouncing around from program to program to find the highest yield.

“There’s less likelyhood of long-term partnerships; there’s not much loyalty any longer. Not many are going for revs hare; they want the money right now,” Davis said.

Crash noted that dating webmaster programs offer a high return in the long-term.

“Dating has a longer tale than paysites,” Crash said. “There are women looking for friend with benefits. They are not looking for Mr. Right; they’re looking at Mr. Right Now.”

“In fact we market for women with different payouts for women.”

But dating sites face legal consequences that don’t usually apply to paysites, Walters said, and that changes the game when it comes to operating the sites.

“There’s no federal law that users have to prove they are over the age of 18 to access paysites,” he said.

“But when you talk about dating sites, and them putting up profiles of themselves, mentioning sexual situations or posting explicit images, and for free without proof of identification, you may have age-verification issues. Then this becomes a whole another animal.”

“You could have 2256 (child pornography) or 2258 (child exploitation) issues,” he said.

“It is important when you have a free dating site you should have some type of age-identifying system.”

Mobile use has come into play for the dating biz within the last six months, said Davis, who noted that a substantial amount of business has come way of white labels.

“I never thought it would turn this way,” Davis said. “We’ve seen a huge boom in mobile users, and it has converted a lot of sales along the way.”

Crash said the popularity of mobile in the dating space is likely because it is “more private and personal.”

Some of the largest dating sites, Crash said, are the oldest -- and in the mainstream.

“Free dating is not a new concept; probably the largest are PlentyOfFish and OKCupid, I think both exist to complement one another; they don’t cannibalize from each other. If you go their sites today you’ll see that they advertise premium dating.”

“They are looking at those registrants and are APIing those registrants to other companies, such as ours.”