SOURCE: eMarketer

February 14, 2006 06:32 ET

New Outlets for Online Daters

MySpace, Facebook Users Gaining on Traditional Online Dating Sites

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 14, 2006 -- Online dating today is a hectic market, with competition coming from all directions. Free online dating alternatives offered at social networking sites are moving in on traditional subscription online dating models, leading to increased competition and more targeted, premium-dater sites.

eMarketer's new report "Online Dating: WhoseSpace?" finds that more love-crossed singles are using free sites like MySpace and Facebook to find dates, helping to increase site traffic, which has grown far more quickly in the past year than for online dating sites as a whole.

"Free online dating sites are pursuing advertisers," says James Belcher, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the new "Online Dating: WhoseSpace?" report. "Subscription-based online dating sites, meanwhile, are pursuing serious paying online daters. This seems facile, as losing casual daters to free sites might eventually deprive subscription sites of the potential converts. The fact that serious online dating sites are not only surviving, but in some cases are charging higher fees, reveals that those who want such services will seek them out, and at a price."

But as a result of the more targeted group of users, overall growth at traditional online dating sites has slowed significantly.

"Online dating is today a mature market," says Mr. Belcher. "Sites now specialize in matching people of specific races, religions, interests and professions, and there are multiple sites competing in each of these niches. Some sites now facilitate webcam-based dates, video-blogging, and other technological marvels."

eHarmony is representative of how specialized the market is getting. The site promotes an exhaustive testing process designed to get you married (and soon!). Serious daters (aka those who pay for the services) are only too happy to pay $50/month for this service, compared to the $10/month of some earlier sites, and free/ad-supported ones.

Click here for more information on eMarketer's new "Online Dating: WhoseSpace?" report.

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