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Is Facebook killing dating sites?

Interesting blog from the creator of PlentyOfFish, a free internet site:: Rapid Decline of the Dating Industry..

As I mentioned in a previous post, What’s broken about online dating, the perfect social site (that HAPPENS to be a superset of dating features) would have:

  • Remove the “dating” label from the site, but make it more about hanging out and being social.
  • Make a very long ladder of interactions for people, from winking to poking to giving gifts to asking questions to open ended messaging.
  • Give people an excuse to hang out OTHER than dating – be it casual games, chat, watching videos, etc.
  • Set them up for dating success, even if you’re not a dating site: Provide mixed gender balances in chat rooms, or group people by location and age, etc.

It’s interested to see that Facebook is a site that’s been able to incorporate real-life relationships that are local, and also has a great gender ratio on the site. I could see them being the dating hub for their core audience.

That said, I’m still a little confused on Markus’s observations – after all, the core demographic that uses dating sites tends to skew a little older. In principle, Facebook shouldn’t take away this audience. Perhaps because PlentyOfFish is free, they attracted a young crowd, which does take away from his audience.

How online dating fits into online marketing
Online dating has become much more of a marketing arbitrage game where the competition happens not on product features, but more on who’s better at buying media. Because the audience is pretty transient – staying on the site for a month or two or three, but then taking off, you end up with an unstable base.

As mentioned in a previous article about what happens with sites that aren’t sticky, it will be fascinating to see whether or not the entire industry caves through the sticky social networking sites putting up “Dating” tabs or applications within the site. That way, they get the advantage of getting a massive audience for free, giving them stuff to do other than the core dating app, and potentially getting the same type of revenue stream.

Or perhaps, as Markus notes, these sites won’t have to add ANY features but will end up hurting the online dating industry anyway.

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