We have been following this rumor now for about 6 months that Match.com was going to be launching a free dating service and we had one of their developers asking our members on Meeta.com how they found our site and other questions. Markus of Plenty of Fish announced the news yesterday with a blog post titled, Its official Match.com Abandons Paid Dating on his Paradigm Shift dating blog. I wouldn’t take it that far but the headline got me to read the post.
It was interesting to read other people’s reaction to the site launch. Match.com like other large businesses is just fighting for market share. That is all it boils down to. They aren’t afraid of free dating models as they know the quality is the concern and that people will usually start off on a free site then migrate to a membership based service and pay for 3-4 months. They are just trying to position themselves to capture more of these types of referral leads. Sites like PlentyofFish.com, OKCupid.com and Mingle2.com (formerly Justsayhi.com) think that they are competing with the big boys when they should be doing partnerships with them. If you watch how the free sites in the adult industry work with the premium pay sites then it would all make sense instead of using Google AdSense as your revenue stream. Businesses that rely on Google are getting lower valuations because you are relying on the big boys buying advertising on Google’s content or site targeted network. I am an online media buyer and I usually don’t buy on Google’s content network due to fraud and low quality traffic from domain parkers.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this site doesn’t take off unless they are going to pour some serious marketing dollars into it. Dustin at DateHookup.com spent a lot of money and time to get his traffic and SEO going. I think he was like 3 years invested when he started hitting critical mass. I don’t think Match has that much patience for this project to go gold. My prediction for 2009 isn’t that the free dating sites will be fighting the pay sites but that we are going to see some acquisition activity on the free dating sites by the big boys. I would like to see Markus get acquired but I don’t think he has a good grasp of what his site is actually worth as he keeps comparing it to Facebook and other social network acquisitions. Trust me POF is far, far away from anything related to FB. Trust me, I am grossly addicted to Facebook and can’t even stand being on the POF homepage but I love what Markus has done for the industry.
If you want to check out Match.com’s new free dating service it is called DowntoEarth.com.
The site is visually appealing and I love that they are focused on the US and Canada to stay away from scammers in Africa and Eastern Europe. Hopefully they have some good IP address detection and proxy server blocking software built into the site.