Irreverent adult-oriented social network Faceparty is shifting strategy to rely solely on its premium SMS income after ditching all ad support to return to its “naughty” roots. Looking for, let’s call it, a “date”, members of the eight-year-old community, pay £1.50 per time via their mobile bill to send web messages to potential mates.
That has long been accompanied by display ads but, according to a statement posted by admins: “We used to be naughty to the hilt and get away with all sorts of mischief. Our advertisers gradually demanded change… after change… after change to our website, making it impossible for us to say words like ‘t**s’. All of a sudden we realise we’d stumbled onto this hideously ugly path, and before we knew it we ended up in corporate wh***sville.”
Used by 16-24s, Faceparty had offered targeted social advertising. But the audience is declining – whilst its UK monthly uniques rose from a modest 1.576 million in February 2007 to 1.904 million three months later, they have since slid back to 1.223 million, according to data given to paidContent:UK by comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), and international traffic shows the same trend. Last audited ABCe data gave it 5.1 million uniques in March 2005, though this is measured differently.
The site admits: “Without ads, we won’t have as much spare cash to spend on staff etc, so you guys are gonna have to help us out – if we all chip together we can make this site so cool.” More detail via NMA – Faceparty is cutting 14 of its 18 staff, including commercial director Matt Nash and sales manager Lorna Boyle, who had moved from ad network 24/7 RealMedia in 2006. Faceparty is a specific beast – its users focused specifically on meeting and flirting with each other. A couple of years back, the site inked a short-term music deal with Sony BMG.
Rather bucking the trend toward ad-supported free services, upstart Badoo is now trying the premium-only mobile payments route, too – but it has funding behind it.