Life on teh interwebs: dating sites

The Internet is a crazy place. In some areas driven by commerce, maybe it should be called intermanipulateweb.

True.com has bombarded myspace with advertising. Yet, I think their domain name is quite ironic. They are probably the worst culprit of exaggerating expections to generate subscription revenue.

Yahoo! and Match, two of the most popular, seem to generally steer clear of excessive manipulation, but they all do to some extent. The tease email is a great example. This is when you are not a paying member, but you get a message from a user. But, in order to read it, you must pay. I am a capitalist and don’t think this is particularly unethical, but still plainly manipulative. I have guesses about how they can use user behavior to “time” search results on such web sites to generate these inquiries at statistically proven intervals.

For the sake of my blogs ‘PG’ rating, I’ll leave off the adult personals. But let’s say the ‘big players’ in this area are especially sophisticated manipulation experts.

Review sites are fun, too. These sites, purported to rank/evaluate dating sites, are typically paid to refer customers who sign up with those sites. An extra dose of manipulation. [P.S. this type of manipulation in ‘editorial’ is rampant in all sorts of areas. I love and hate it at the same time. Another post.]

Of course, we can’t leave out the actual user manipulation. At this point, probably not too far off from a mirror of real life dating scene, it’s just part of the dance.

I do like to hear success stories of online dating. And before I am accused of being overly whiney about the interdatenet, I don’t mean to be. I’ve been a member of both Yahoo! and Match before. I have friends who are as well. Success is mixed. Personally, I haven’t had a ton of luck. Perhaps my profile doesn’t manipulate quite enough? OK, just kidding.

Bottom line, dating sites are big business. Match.com parent InterActiveCorp reported $311 million in revenue for their Personals segment in 2006. Big business that is fiercely competitive, depends on consumer behavior, and involves something as psychological as dating, provides an extremely potent recipe for encouraging, nay requiring, manipulation on the part of participants.

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