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Over the last several years we've seen a steady drop in the percentage of US online users who report browsing online dating sites.

Date: 2007-02-24

Too tired, or too lazy to hit the meat market? Tongue-tied with chat-up lines?

Marketers have been taking note of lonely hearts all trying to meet ‘the one’. Maybe not even ‘the one’, but ‘the two and ‘the three’.

As the internet has grown, you’ve guessed it, so has the online dating business.

According to new research from Jupiter, the US market continues to grow but is heading towards saturation and stagnation in the number of users paying for access.

Senior Analyst at JupiterResearch, Nate Elliott, said, "Over the last several years we've seen a steady drop in the percentage of US online users who report browsing online dating sites.

"Although US dating sites are converting browsers into payers better than ever before, they'll have to offer additional paid services to existing customers, and tap into new user segments, to reignite significant market growth."

It’s a different picture in Europe, according to ‘Online Dating in 2007: US Market Searches for New Users as European Market Challenges US Dominance’.

The number of European’s using online dating sites has grown consistently since 2003 and the industry continues to be a growing business.

Predictions are that European sites will continue to attract new users and that revenues will double from £163 million (243 million euros) in 2006 to £368 (549 million euros) in 2011.

More than 3.5 million people per month in the UK were using internet dating and personal websites in 2005 according to NetRatings. This was a figure that had almost doubled year on year.

The number of European users who report using online dating sites has grown from four percent in 2005 to six percent in 2006.

JupiterResearch’s Nate Elliott, said, "The European online dating market is experiencing real growth right now.

The industry will increase from 2.8 million paid users in 2006 to 6.0 million in 2011.”

The implications are clear. As a result of more users registering, consumer spending on online personals in Europe will more than double as well."

Revenues are growing in both the US and Europe. But while the US market might be bigger and more developed the younger European market is growing relatively more quickly.

According to Jupiter, in 2003 Europeans spent less than one-quarter as much as US users on online dating sites.

In 2006 they spent approximately one-half as much, and in 2011 they will spend more than three-quarters as much.

However, it’s predicted by 2011 the European market will have largely matured, growing by just nine per cent compared to the US market's six per cent growth.

Match.com is the world's largest online dating site. Founded in 1996, the company has more than 25 million members globally.

In the UK alone, there are 160,000 monthly registrations. Similarly to other sites, users can post a profile, browse and search for singles on the site for free.

They can also send a ‘wink’ for free to let another match members know they’re interested. But to make proper contact, users have to sign up and pay.

Being number one in the market doesn’t come for nothing and that’s where marketing comes into play.

The website retains usersloyalty by producing a weekly online magazine, 'Happen'.

Content such as dating trends, celebrity interviews, Lovescopes and answers to dating dilemmas from leading experts are all geared to encourage activity on the related dating site.

Match.com, launched its first major UK advertising campaign in 2005.

The three million pound ‘Make Love Happen’ campaign created by New York's Hanft Raboy and Partners (HRP), included television in the UK for the first time supported by heavyweight radio and print advertising.

Investing in an offline campaign was seen as critical for the brand to drive awareness amongst singles.

UK Managing Director of Match.com, Samantha Bedford, said, "The 2005 ’Make Love Happen’ campaign delivered major awareness of Match.com as many singles were considering broadening their dating options to the internet."

The second burst of the campaign was unleashed in January 2007 to build on the ground gained in 2005.

The heavyweight campaign comprises, TV, outdoor, ambient activity and radio promotion.

The positioning is the same -'Make Love Happen' – and again has been devised and executed by New York agency, HRP.

Three new 30" spots executions have been shot by Jim Hosking satirically play on the ancient language of love. Each ad highlights a side effect of love, illustrated by a Latin acronym.

The first, ‘Oblivious Completis’ (pictured) features a couple snogging so passionately in a hot tub they don't notice an old man rise from the bubbles and climb out.

The second, ‘Creamis Whippederum Everywhereis’ shows a couple excitedly licking whipped cream off each other in a crowded restaurant.

Onlookers spontaneously copy them. Finally ‘Booty Shakeis Anywhereis’ reveals a couple dancing intimately together in a lift at an underground station.

Outdoor activity, including 48-sheets – has been sited in underground and railway stations in Greater London and the South East.

Radio and ambient activity is scheduled for later this year.

Match.com's offline spend is being mirrored by continued investment online across search, banners and rich media.

Sarah Drew, said "The 'Make Love Happen' campaign has struck a unique cord with the British public and encouraged many new singles to broaden their dating horizons and try the internet.”





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