When I read what some of the big players in the online dating industry are up to I am never sure whether to be angry (on behalf of online daters) or just laugh.
If you want to find out about the underhand tactics used by most of the big online dating sites then don’t search the web for reviews or blogs about them … go to their main competitors blog where they are happy to spill the beans about the other guys current underhand tactics and game plan.
The latest episode in this online dating soap opera is on The Paradigm Shift a blog written by Markus Frind, CEO of Plenty of Fish.
Of course I don’t want my websites members to all rush off and join PoF but I have respect for Markus because there is a degree of honesty and transparancy in what he has created (tinged with a little jealousy that I didn’t have his brilliant idea first and then sell when it was at it’s peak).
His post makes for quite intersting reading, not so much for the impending war between PoF and Match.com’s new free site but for the snippets of industry insider tactics found in the post, the comments and reading between the lines.
Markus is announcing the new free website for singles in the USA & Canada, called downtoearth by the owners of Match and of course he offers his opinion.
An example, Markus says: “I wonder if Match.com will now pay me $7.50 like everyone else for writing about downtoearth”.
What he is referring to here is the fee Match are paying bloggers to mention the new site and provide a link from their blog post, rather than just placing an advert in the sidebar that nobody clicks anyway.
With an industry leader like Match all they need to do is issue a press release (or better yet a rumour) and suddenly the web is awash with their name and links to their new site.
Nothing wrong with that, it is clever marketing but even in the dog eat dog world of online dating sites when you have a name like Match doesn’t paying people to blog about your new site seem just a tad sleazy?! Surely if you believe in your new site and have the clout of Match then good reviews would simply follow naturally.
Match would have us believe they are re-inventing the wheel with this new site.
On the home page of this new site it says “No Married People Allowed” … gosh that will keep them out then! (where’s my rolls eyes smiley when I need it?!).
It goes on to say: “RealRatings are all about proving a person is who they say they are, not how attractive some fake pictures are.” Ahem, so I join up with 10 different email addresses and get my alter ego’s to “rate” that I am who I say I am … no honestly I AM Sandra Bullock.
Again from their home page: ” If you hit a spot filled with frauds and cheaters, that’s exactly what you are likely to find.” Perhaps they missed the point … the free sites are more often than not where the frauds and cheaters hang out!!
Their home page is awash with comments to make you trust that site and yet I didn’t read anything on the site that tells you almost every review or comment you will read on the web about the site is actually paid for by them. Trust only seems to need to work one way.
Scroll down the page to the partners link and take a look who their partners are … not a free dating website in sight. Aren’t you just a little curious what’s in it for the partners?
At times watching the big fish in the online dating world is akin to watching a casino card dealer. Members from free sites are shuffled around to the paid ones and sites affiliate and sell your profile, partnerships are created to share out the booty and on and on it goes. I’m surprised online daters aren’t too dizzy to actually get on with speaking to each other.
You have to hand it to Match, they have a brilliant marketing team. Their adverts are memorable and funny, their marketing guys and gals keep coming up with new ways to beat the system and they are market leaders when it comes to getting cash out of their members.
At this point I must confess I am no great fan of Match.com, a number of years ago I fell foul of their ‘oops you stopped paying us because nobody was contacting you but suddenly these men in your area are desperate to chat with you’ tactic and being gullible I got the credit card out again (more than once I am ashamed to admit).
Of course once I paid to rejoin the nearest man to me was still 300 miles away and the ones desperate to chat to me just happened to delete their profiles that day!!
Perhaps this is why these people are millionaires and I am never going to be, I just don’t have that ruthless streak that lets me play these marketing games with something as precious as peoples love lives. I am old fashioned, I believe in saying this is what you pay, this is what you get, there are no guarantees but we will help you any way we can.
My opinion, through experience, has always been that anyone serious about online dating should use a niche dating site in their own country (look for ones with no adverts, no affiliates and no partners, just an honest little site with like-minded people) but if you are just after a bit of online dating fun then join a big free dating site.
Industry statitics show that a vast majority of people that meet a long term partner online meet someone with shared interests within quite a small radius of their home town. It might be fun to chat to people on the other side of the world but very few people meet up or end up in long term relationships.
We also know that when people first start internet dating they go to the free sites and have a bit of fun but once they get serious about their search they usually migrate to niche paid sites, in an attempt to avoid the frauds and cheaters.