I have been tracking domain name searches on yahoo for the big paid dating sites. Domain name searches translates into word of mouth and signal trends in paid membership about 8+ months from now.
I’m comparing Jan 06 to Jan 07 and here are the results.
Eharmony 29% decline
Americansingles 68% decline
match.com 71% decline
cupid.com 21% decline
mate1.com 37% decline
perfectmatch.com 78% decline
Lavalife 70%+ decline
Nielson says that traffic declined 20% last year. I think the hit this year will be a lot bigger and many dating sites won’t be around for 2008.
Most of the free sites are trending negative as well and i’m seeing some reversals in certain demographics. Hotornot is throwing away 4 million + a year in profits to try and expand beyond what they have in order to make money in the future. Like hotornot I have to sit down and find a way to make the site appeal to more people and tap into the community/ viral aspects. Social networks and hotornot are social/viral, any dating site that says they are a dating site will never really experience super viral growth because the average member quits after 3 months. Even worse social networks don’t let free sites advertise, and no doubt that ban will extend to paid dating sites soon enough.