Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating…

Match.com has launched a free dating service.        They picked a damn good domain name and the site looks really good.

 http://downtoearth.com

 Downtoearth is headed up by Jacob Solotaroff,   the former Director of Product Management and Member Integrity at Match.com.  He also writes on this blog…  http://thefraudczar.com/   On the marketing side its headed up by Steve Hammer  It looks like the project was started back in June 2008.  

It looks like match.com realizes they are losing marketshare fast and paid sites don’t really have a future.    15% of my users in the US pay on other dating sites every month,  but they all say if there was another big free site like plentyoffish they wouldn’t pay elsewhere.    This has already happened in Canada where plentyoffish is pretty much the only dating site people use,  and eharmony a distant second. 

Looks like 2009 will be the battle of the business models,  Free Verse Paid….    I wonder if Match.com will now pay me $7.50 like everyone else  for writing about downtoearth ?    If you are looking to get a job at Match.com’s latest startup  you can see the openings here

132 Responses to “Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating…”

  1. Joshua Dorkin @ BiggerPockets.com Says:

    That’s a HUGE shift, Markus. You’ve done to dating sites what Craigslist did to newspaper classifieds. Looks like the “big boys” of paid dating are paying attention now. Congrats and Good luck in ’09!

  2. Andrew Warner Says:

    So how does having a top site go free affect your business?

  3. Stever Says:

    Markus, have you seen the new TV ad campaign for eharmony.ca? It’s running a “free communication weekend” from Thursday to Sunday. The ads appear to be in heavy rotation.

    Looks like the US and Aussie sites are doing it too, but not the UK one.

  4. morestar Says:

    Why yes, eharmony has offered this change in their dating site service to sort of make it seem like free dating: http://freedateclub.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/free-dating-sites-free-communication-weekend/

  5. Anonymous Says:

    But as recently as November you worried about being free:

    There is really no money in being free and we have to start
    experimenting with other models now or we won’t be able to compete
    in 3 or 4 years.

    [http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/monetization-free-verse-paid/]

    So which way do you really think the paradigm is shifting?

  6. Markus Says:

    I was worried about someone else being able to monetize “free” better.

    Who ever can make the most money per free member will win… Because they can spend huge amounts of money on advertising. At the end of the day my users are spending hundreds of millions in revenue elsewhere. I should be getting that revenue not match.com or eharmony.

  7. morestar Says:

    I think Markus has declared a war…

  8. Wil Says:

    The problem with this is that the viability of free sites comes from the willingness of the not-free sites to pay for traffic.

    If everyone goes free, noone’s going to pay the same sort of CPMs we’re seeing today, and the “ad supported” model is going to deteriorate.

  9. Ross Williams Says:

    So Match has launched a free dating service so that instead of paying PoF to acquire members it’s getting them for free via it’s own site.

    Doesn’t this just underline that PoF and other free dating sites are reliant on revenue from the paid dating sites?

    Free dating sites are a great way for people to try online dating without any risk – but soon the quality issue comes into play and when people become serious about dating they’re willing to pay for it.

    Which is why PoF makes revenue (don’t know whether it makes much profit?) at present – if a site is free, it needs either advertising revenue OR a paid service it can sell members to.

    Match had a paid service, it’s now got a free one (interestingly, they list a lot of other premium dating sites as their partners).

    I think everyone can see where this is going – is PoF going to finally introduce a paid version or a separate paid brand so it can compete?

  10. Dating For What? | Christian Dating Says:

    [...] Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating… « The Paradigm Shift [...]

  11. Xavier Flynn Says:

    I think it’s an interesting move. We will see how they really monetize their site.

  12. Massimo Says:

    @Xavier : is it not clear? Lead generation for their own site and all the other sites they list as “partners”.

  13. SexyStevenTyler.com Says:

    So the real battle in 2009 will be DownToEarth.com v PlentyOfFish.com not paid v free. Should be fun to watch!

  14. osewa Says:

    Markus vs the big boys competing on the same terms. This war will be very interesting!

  15. osewa Says:

    Their first mistake is not opening up their website to search engine traffic.

    Their second mistake is limiting their membership to US and Canada only.

    Markus is so going to steamroll these guys if they don’t wise up fast.

  16. shabazz Says:

    If it’s really a free service why are they offering the new RealRatings™ tool?

  17. Match.com goes Down To Earth (.com) | Dominik Mueller Says:

    [...] tip to Markus Frind.) >> Subscribe | Twitter | SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Match.com goes Down To Earth [...]

  18. Timothy Horrigan Says:

    Actually, limiting the free service to the USA & Canada is a smart move. It cuts out the great majority of the Russian, Chinese, West African, etc. scammers. Also, most people don’t want to travel great distances to meet dates — especially heterosexual women who are the dating services’ most difficult but most essential market segment. Most folks want to find a partner within a radius of a few dozen miles— and they sure don’t want to have to travel to another continent!

    I do wonder how the free site will make money. The average web surfer is very careful to NOT click on affiliate ads, no matter how relevant they are to the content on the site and no matter how gracefully they get blended into the content.

  19. gregoryt Says:

    isn’t that title misleading? if match.com was abandoning paid site model wouldn’t they have closed / changed match.com?

    like most companies, they are going after market share that would never pay, there are lots of competitors in this space, nerve.com / fast cupid comes to mind.

  20. jollyjeff Says:

    Hmmm. I’m already dating two women, guess I’ll have to find time for a few more:)

  21. Hammer Says:

    As someone who has done a fair share of online dating (with much success) on both paid and free sites, I have to disagree with you. When you pay for a subscription, you are invested in going out with people on that site. When you sign up for a free site, much of the time it is just about looking and ego boosting.

    That said, they both have their advantages. I find that free sites make it far easier to get into conversations with women because all of the men are buffoons, but it’s much harder to get them to meet up because they’re not completely sold on the idea of online dating. Paid sites make it slightly harder to stand out from the pack, but once you’ve done that the women are willing to meet up almost immediately.

  22. Tom I Am Says:

    I met my wife on match.com in 1999 (she’s from China, I’m from the U.S.) I don’t remember what we paid for our memberships, but whatever it was, it was the best damn investment we ever made. :-)

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  25. alharlow Says:

    Okay, I agree how interesting this will all be to watch, but the bottom line is that if these free services don’t create a significant revenue stream soon, they won’t last. Once the investors money runs out, then what? Some are saying that revenue will be created by providing traffic to affiliates who will pay for clicks? The PPC model is already starting to flutter from what I can tell, and as Timothy says, people are reluctant to click on PPC ads. I also agree with Wil about the deterioration of this business model once there is no money to be made by anyone. But how about the Ebay model, where people would pay for better placement of their personal ads? Would this fall on its head? Is it politically correct by putting the richer guys in front of the poorer guys to get noticed? Don’t the guys with the money always get the girls anyway? This would just follow human nature, I think, and the business model works, as Ebay has proven. Just food for thought.

  26. Are Paid Online Dating Sites Dead? Says:

    [...] Plentyoffish.com, somewhat self-servingly claims the move is a victory for free dating sites. He writes: “Downtoearth is headed up by Jacob Solotaroff, the former Director of Product Management and [...]

  27. Relationships » Blog Archive » First Date Idea: Go For A Bike Ride Says:

    [...] Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating… « The Paradigm Shift [...]

  28. ¿Los sitios de citas en línea han dejado de funcionar? | Mashable Says:

    [...] forma un poco presuntuosa alega que la movida es una victoria para los sitios gratuitos de citas. Escribe : “DowntoEarth está presidida por Jacob Solotaroff, ex director de gestión de productos e [...]

  29. Relationships » Blog Archive » First Date Idea: Go For A Bike Ride Says:

    [...] Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating… « The Paradigm Shift [...]

  30. RomanAS Says:

    I am sure there will not be no war PoF vs mtach.com.
    Most likely site downtoearth.com was done only to study they’s competitors http://downtoearth.com/Partners.aspx .
    mtach.com by using they’s free web site will monitor conversion of there main competitors and study them.
    All links to foreign sites has it’s own tracking and none to their own. Although I think quite soon tracking codes will appear and for their sites, just because it would be convenient to analyze.

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  32. Technology news - Techvibes Blog Says:

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  33. Ts Says:

    Whoops.

    Ouch.

    Damn.

    Looks like PoF just lost at least half of its valuations.

    It just goes like this: every paid dating site can choose to go free at any moment in time. However the reverse is not true.

    Match.com can now pass revenue from their right hand to the left, leaving markus dry. I smell blood. The proper response is probably advertising on downtowarth.com about a cheaper paid alternative to match.com

    This is getting messy. And the intent of downtoearth is clearly nasty.

  34. Ts Says:

    Plenty of whales .com — catch the biggest of them all.

    Lol I am a retard.

  35. Bo Says:

    POF should have sold years ago when it was at peak expectations.

    Now the market has all but crashed, the next greater permanent depression of epic proportions is coming. Consumerism, capitalism and the American way of life is dead, and Google is in deep troubles and making a fortune from online ads are a thing of the past …

    and now the final shoe drops… Paid sites like match.com are evolving and adapting to the times and when push comes to shove and they HAVE TO complete with plentyoffish ballgame they will…

    So I see D2E not solely as a means for Match to acquire members for themselves for free (instead of paying POF via ads) but the company could potentially use D2E as a platform for helping other paid sites as a launching pad and lead generation for both itself AND its partners… So IAC could afford to sink money into D2E and use it as lose leader for conversion and recruitment of new “paid” users …. They don’t have to play by the same rule’s like OKC or POF… They can afford to lose money in D2E and still come out way ahead..

    So match will no longer be “paying” free sites like POF to take market share away from them, which didn’t really make much since in the first place…

  36. Xobni erhält Finanzierung, Business Plan-Wettbewerb CyberOne, Online-Dating-Portale, Venture Capital-Branche, Facebook bald kostenpflicht? | Seedfinance Says:

    [...] einer schweren Zukunft entgegenblicken. Auch Markus Frind, Gründer von Plentyoffish, äußert sich heute in seinem Blog zu DownToEarth und der Strategie von IAC. Auf der anderen Seite stellt sich natürlich unweigerlich [...]

  37. alharlow Says:

    Bo, do you really think “consumerism, capitalism and the American way of life is dead”? That’s a pretty bold statement.

    Don’t you know that all the bad news you’re hearing is driven by another “ism” — sensationalism? I suggest you turn off the news and follow the money. The news media is like any other business; but it’s in turmoil because of the Internet and drastic changes inthe way people get their news.

    What we haven’t seen the last of, is change. It is disruptive and to some, very painful. This is just a long-overdue correction, however, and truck sales are up, but you don’t hear about this in the news, do you?

  38. Bo Says:

    alharlow, I don’t want to get into a prolonged discussion about nondating issues on a dating blog but since you asked, in a nutshell the basic idea is that we have been living under a flawed and totally unsustainable system for way too long and pretty soon we will not be able to patch it up with ever bigger band-aids to cover up the mess from before and etc any longer. At that point in time it will be like a cascade domino chain reaction of a crash (akin to the mechanics of what happens when a star goes supernova…)

    In short, Capitalism, Fiat Currency, Fractional Reserve Banking, and Globalization are all pyramid schemes. All pyramid schemes eventually come to a nasty end because there is no such thing as infinite exponential growth in a finite limited enviroment (see the free video of “Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy” for more information on why it is mathematically proven that we as a entire species have PEAKED and its all downhill forever from here) But on its way up and within its limited domain (for Capitalism this was approx 200 years or so) it “works” (just like Newtons classical laws works on the macro scale) so we tend to think of it as a good model in general. Capitalism is a MODE of survival for an entire society that works well under a certain set of conditions, once the set of conditions no longer apply then that particular MODE of Survival becomes useless and outdated and is replaced with something else to adapt with the changing times…

    If you read up on “PEAK OIL”, EROEI, ‘Olduvai Gorge Post-Industrial Stone Age’, and Evolutionary Darwinism you will understand why our unsustainable way of life is coming to an end. Google LOTAC …
    MODERN Society is dependent on cheap and abundant energy with a very high level/threshold of EROEI (energy returned on energy invested)
    This is why alternative energies do not work and will not scale. Any way you put it BAU (business as usual) will not carry on much longer…

    I think it is fair to say 2009 and 2010 will be the years that consumerism and the “dept economy” comes to an end and the gears start falling off the wheels.. I won’t not at all be surprise to see a global depression by 2010/2011… America will be hit the hardest (relative downgrade of living standards, I’m not comparing to 3rd worlds that are already priced out…) because its infrastructure and its populous is in the worst position to make the adjustments ..

    Comprehensive downscaling in all our activities, from farming to business to schooling to governance, will be the categorical imperative of the years ahead. It is in this social economical and geopolitical backdrop and within this kind of macro-economical environment that we will live out the rest of our lives. I think it is safe to say the predominate and overall microlevel theme of the foreseeable future is that of “downsizing” of “point of diminishing returns”, “negative return on investment” and of “cannibalisms”… (another Ism for you, but its not about human meat eating, although if it ever does get that bad……)

  39. TS Says:

    Bo, nice analysis.

    I have come to the some of the conclusions on my own as well. However, there is one thing to be said: the Creative Destruction side of capitalism could prove to be the medicine for the economic downturn simply because wealth can be created from destruction of unsustainable business models too. Shorting of public companies, for example, can be used to generate wealth when a business goes under. But that is simply an imperfect wealth “REDISTRIBUTION” system under capitalism.

    The question is this: after the redistribution of wealth occurs, “how do the newest class of concentrated wealth design a new economic ‘pyramid’ to sustain the global life forms”

    Throughout history, the imperfect solution to that question I just proposed have always been war. WWI, WWII, Revolutions around the globe. The fact that America has been proclaimed the leader of the nations was simply because of the two atomic bomb dropped on Japan that ended the question of “who is superior”.

    My question to you Bo, besides the doom and gloom is this: what is your proposed solution to this mess besides another World War to clear up energy consumers?

  40. nick Says:

    Down to earth won’t work. They don’t understand what made POF so successful. It wasn’t just the fact that POF is free. Its the usability, openness, and being first on the scène. What struck me about POF was that that you could access and search the site right out of the gate unrestricted with having to register first. I wanted to know what was on the site before I bothered with all the sign up crap. With other dating sites I felt like I was being grabbed by the ankles and shook upside down, so I never singed up for them. Originally on POF you only had to signup to contract other members and to create a profile. The key word matching was also ingenious. I went on one date from the site and now I’m with the love of my life.

  41. video dating Says:

    I have come to the some of the conclusions on my own as well.

  42. Toon-c Says:

    I think that the time has come to build another dating website markus , a paid one ..

  43. JoeSales Says:

    FYI, True.com paid bloggers 9.47 to do the same thing:

    http://socialspark.com/advertisers/true/sponsored_posts/1549

    JoeSales

  44. bob Says:

    The market for paid sites would be doing better if some of the sites would charge a little less or charge for results.

  45. mliubinskas Says:

    Nice open blogging. I love it.

    We were just talking about Plenty of Fish yesterday. You’ll meet our mate Brendan in Miami.

    I agree that business models will come under increased pressure, but I think they really already were. Part of the difference though is that you can’t just hope that you’ll get big enough to sell or make enough money of ads. If you’re going to do ads, you really have to do it in a smart way and you still have to create a great service so you get and keep enough users.

    Free is also not the right way for a lot of businesses. I’m actually telling some of the companies we work for to charge money first, then offer a free version. At least that way you aim at creating something so useful that people will pay for it, not a free app which is sometimes only marginally worth it and hence doesn’t take off.

  46. Dave Bromley Says:

    Anything that is free probably isnt worth the money you pay for it!

  47. William Mitchell Says:

    Ironically the downtoearth.com home page features a woman with a painfully obvious upper lip implant, next to the words “100% real people.”

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  50. Jason Says:

    Guys has anyone ever gotten their IP blocked from Plenty of Fish? One day my profile was gone and I noticed any new profile I created disappeared in 5 minutes. Anyone including the people I’ve talked to on POF, people I’ve met from the site that I know offline, have no idea what it is. Wtf?

  51. Sally Says:

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  53. digeeU dating Says:

    To be honest, I think Match’s free dating site is just for studying competitors in this category and their effort to capture market share that their paying service doesn’t get. For now, most of paying online dating don’t really deserve the pay as they really provide nothing but traffic and some typical easy matching through keywords. However, paying model is still one way to go as non-paying dating sites are not up to the bar on quality.

  54. kelly Says:

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  55. Jodi Says:

    Someone needs to check you out this site is a SCAM!!!! Many unhappy people joined your site to be kicked off or some stupid stuff about invalid server. I looked you up and not only me but many people can’t get on your site anymore. Its sad to play games with peoples hearts. Shame on you!!!!

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  58. Ticketoride Says:

    “Match.com can now pass revenue from their right hand to the left, leaving markus dry”

    Just a Matter of Time before various Freebie Dating Sites capitalize on the “Equality” Theme and not differentiate People in Terms of being “serious” or a VIP because they have paid for some Symbol on their Profile and in the Searches, since that half-baked Idea holds little Water.

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  60. jamesgreave Says:

    Ofcourse.. free sites are always welcome. But thing is they wont provide as many services as a paid site can. And also the quality is question here. Anyways thanks for the post.

    • Jenny Says:

      I’m curious what services a paid dating has to offer that a free dating site don’t? As long as a site has basic functionality with instant messenger and a chat system that works for everybody, what else do you need?
      And who ends up paying for any and all the extra bells and whistles? The economy has took a dive since this thread was started and doesn’t appear that it will be any better soon. I don’t think there’s any market for a paid dating site at this time. Even if you do have the money to invest in advertising. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if all the paid sites went under tommorrow.

  61. Bo Says:

    it was about time…

  62. Lou | Adult Dating Says:

    The free model certainly is an interesting one. You are kind on the other side of the fence because you site has been free. In fact, I always thought that your site would begin to charge in some way, partly because it’s such a great site and so active.

    Now, flipping sides of the fence, look what the tube sites have done to other industries. Whenever sites start offering too much for free, a huge paradigm shift takes place. It’s a matter of other sites adapt and fit into that shift.

    One indication of sites giving a product or service for free, when it was initially not free, is that the operators are losing money or their model and not working. With the economy hurting, most people are only able to afford free, which is a sign of the times.

    When a company starts to give it’s formally paid product away for free, people will wonder if something is wrong with that product. This stunt by match says that they are in trouble. They’ve been on the chopping block already.

    The real questions are: how long can companies maintain giving away products or services for free? How does that affect the service? What does it do to the quality of the service? The ones that will make it will be the ones that can sustain quality, features and remain active and not grow stale. The battle then becomes how to monetize the site in order to sustain it.

    It will be interesting to see how many other sectors subscribe to this philosophy and how long it will last. What happens when people start losing the Internet because of economic hardships? Will there be a resurgence in brick and mortar operations?

    I believe we are living in a pivotal point in history and, at the very least, it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

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  64. match sites Says:

    Match.com can now pass revenue from their right hand to the left, leaving markus dry. I smell blood. The proper response is probably advertising on downtowarth.com about a cheaper paid alternative to match.com

  65. UstillUp Says:

    Odd how Match.com is moving towards free dating and Plentyoffish.com is moving towards paid dating. I guess if they both make money, why not do both. To be honest though, I don’t really like the name “DowntoEarth” for a dating site.
    One problem I see with free dating sites is all the ads. Some of them are so crammed full of ads its hard ton enjoy the actual site.

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  69. Premium Dating Site Says:

    Well, they are hedging their bet, their premium paid site match.com is still there so you cannot really say they have abandoned paid dating

  70. Chris P. Says:

    Wow…well done! The power of free is finally dethroning some of the big boys!!…keep up the good work!

    Chris

  71. Dating BBW Says:

    Methinks they don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket. If they were that convinced free dating is the way to go, they would have opened up free membership to all their customers at match rather than found a new website.

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  73. Match Says:

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  74. Jerry Times Says:

    There is another site dedicated only those that are serious about dating it’s called http://www.truebluedating.com. I have had enough of sites where someone puts up a profile then maybe checks back once every two weeks.

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  76. bob Says:

    Why not check http://www.loveforboth.com, another free dating site

  77. Karen Says:

    A WARNING ABOUT SITES LIKE MATCH.COM. Match.com allows people who do not live in town, who are of wrong age, who are married or otherwise in relationships to date on its site. So they may not be thieves but they are looking to take ADVANTAGE OF WOMEN.

    I have noticed that since 2009 a lot of men who would have actually used prostitutes have moved to sites like Match.com to find sex and they will lie through their teeth to get it. I know one guy who actually put down he is 44 but is actually 51, wants kids but doesn’t, doesn’t live in the location his profile indicates, has been incarcerated, and generally has a pretty incorrect profile. Also he is in a relationship with another woman in the city he actually lives in. All of this I reported to Match.com…and they will not shut down his profile. They continue to keep it up…knowing that the entire profile is a lie.

    I think Match.com specifically has become a magnet for men who were otherwise no longer able to afford prostitutes and now come to the site for the same…only they pay 10th of the price and lie to the women to take advantage of them.

    Online dating…especially Match.com are the way of johns.com now. Any decent person who is looking for a real relationship…BEWARE!!!

    If the man is an American, I suggest you do a complete background check on Intellus.com site where you can find out the real age, if they are married, if they have a criminal background or otherwise are lying about where they actually live. It costs about $12 and is worth every penny!

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  79. MingleMonkee Says:

    Really – I think Match.com are just spicing up the game a bit! Good on them!

  80. Johnny Falco Says:

    I’m hoping this new site isn’t like okcupid. They make it seem like it’s free, then make you answer like 75 meaningless questions, and then only allow you to post one small pic–unless you get a “premium membership” so you can post more. Lame. I deleted my account.

    I’ve been online dating for a few months now–both match and pof–and have def gotten the most dates from pof. Finally starting to figure this stuff out. I also highly recommend checking out this guy’s guide to online dating. He’s been doing forever, and lays it all out there. Awesome read..

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