Online dating has exploded in popularity over the past 10 years. Once seen as a rather nerdy, even desperate way to meet a potential partner (or, let’s face it, a less than wholesome means of finding a sexual encounter) – the industry has now become a much more acceptable way of finding love.
Globally, one in five relationships now starts online and the media is full of stories describing happy marriages which started with the click of a mouse.
Looking at it from a financial perspective, its estimated that globally the industry is worth more than £2bn.
Online dating is now so important to the UK economy that the Office of National Statistics recently added online dating to its basket of goods and services to calculate UK inflation rates.
For this feature, we interviewed more than a dozen dating websites, representing more than five million members (although it should be noted that most people using a dating website will set up a profile with more than one company).
Most generated revenue through a subscription model – typically members will sign up for free, but be charged if they would like to connect to someone’s profile.
Others are entirely free to join and use, but make money through advertising – though this model’s popularity is waning due to the lack of reliability of cashflow.
Some sites also offer extra services, such as buying real and virtual gifts to send your paramour, more in-depth background checks and real-world networking events to boost the coffers.
It’s also interesting to note that the split of male to female members on most of the sites is around the 50:50 mark, and the number of older daters (those from 50 years of age and up) has become a real growth market.
Date: 27 Oct 2012
Writer: Charlie Thomas
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