The Online Dating Recession

8 Comments’s Thursday announcement that it had purchased Singlesnet was notable for its upfrontness; the company acknowledged that Singlesnet’s traffic is “currently in decline” — something it said it hoped to turn around. Turns out, however, that much of the online dating industry is in a traffic slump.

comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) figures show double-digit year-over-year declines in unique visitors worldwide at big paid subscriber sites like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Personals (down 34 percent), (down 37 percent), and Singlesnet (down 27 percent). Notable exceptions include eHarmony (up 31 percent), social dating site Zoosk (which has very impressively seen its traffic surpass that of Match and Singlesnet in the U.S.) and PlentyOfFish (up 26 percent), which happens to be the only free site among the top ten.

PlentyOfFish founder Markus Frind says that the overall industry-wide traffic decline — exemplified in the below Hitwise chart he provided to us — is largely recession-driven (“So much for dating being recession proof,” he says in an e-mail). But he says it is overly simplistic to attribute his site’s success to it being free.

“In online dating, success only comes from actually matching people up,” he says. “There were hundreds of free sites before I started and there are many more now. Fifteen percent of my users are actively paying members on other dating sites.” He says that paid sites will only decline “drastically” if PlentyOfFish gains substantially more market share — something he says has already happened in its home country of Canada.

Still, Match’s dependence on paying subscribers has raised concerns among analysts before. During an earnings call last spring, executives were asked whether the industry was moving towards an ad-supported model. IAC (NSDQ: IACI) CFO Thomas McInerney responded that the “overwhelming world of personals is on the subscription paid side” and said he believed that would continue. That presumably remains IAC’s belief in light of the Singlesnet acquisition — and for now it may be paying off. Despite the traffic declines, Match’s revenue increased five percent last quarter.



Mark Pavlisin

If anyone has any suggestions on how or where to statistically test my unique astrological compatibility method developed over two decades and anecdotally tested, I would appreciate it


Well let’s give him that, Fernando has some pertinent insight and it’s funny that he comments on every dating related post :)
not sure the debate should be about accuracy of matching tools but rather how paid online dating embraces the Facebook phenomenon.

Sam Moorcroft

And, your untested, unproven, no-evidence-whatsoever matching system is superior, right?
Is it also “**estimated by Fernando Ardenghi using reverse engineering”?

Unlike your $0.00 in revenue, sites like Match and eHarmony make 100’s of millions of $$ in revenue every year. The people paying them wouldn’t put down their hard-earned money if their systems didn’t work in some way or other.

Until you have a credible alternative, please (we are BEGGING YOU), quit all the belly-aching, and Get-Back-To-Your-Day-Job. I’m sure your employer doesn’t appreciate you posting constantly on their time.

Less reverse engineering. More actual work. Please.

Fernando Ardenghi

The entire Online Dating Industry for serious daters in 1st World Countries is a HOAX, performing as a Big Online Casino, with low successful rates.

Here are some proofs:

– No actual online dating site offering a compatibility matching method [eHarmony, True, Meetic, Chemistry, PerfectMatch, Be2, Parship, MyType, RewardingLove, PlentyOfFishChemistryPredictor and others] has a credible peer reviewed Scientifc Paper by Academics (public scrutiny of findings) from different Universities showing its matching algorithm can match prospective partners who will have more stable and satisfying relationships with low divorce rates than couples matched by chance, astrological destiny, personal preferences, searching on one’s own, or other technique as the control group.
They are all like placebo, because they have less or at least the same precision as searching on one’s own OR less or at least the same precision as recommendation engines [in the range of 3 or 4 persons compatible per 1,000 persons screened]
The success rate* of Chemistry is less than 6%**.
The success rate* of eHarmony is less than 10%**.
*success rate == percentage of persons who leave the site because they found someone compatible.
**estimated by Fernando Ardenghi using reverse engineering.

The majority, over 90% of their members are not going to achieve a long term relationship with commitment (or marriage) using those sites.

– eHarmony 2 billion served
Shows its matching method is like a machine gun shooting flowers, good for nothing.

– Helen Fisher publised the book “Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type” for marketing purposes but she never published a paper for public and Academic scrutiny of her findings.

– Markus Frind is his blog post “New Research Study raises questions about the scientific validity of some matchmaking sites.”, he had written “…markus Says: July 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm
my test is only 20% better than chance. But its not validated and neither is any other sites test. …..”

– Complaints from dissatisfied customers in differents blogs / forums you can find using Google.

– paper “Do Online Matchmaking Tests Work? An Assessment of Preliminary Evidence for a Publicized Predictive Model of Marital Success” North American Journal of Psychology, 2004, Vol. 6, pp. 507-526, that says at page#15 “….development and validation of online compatibility testing; and disclosing those findings for public and academic scrutiny without divulging proprietary information…. ”
Year 2010, still waiting for eHarmony, PerfectMatch, Chemistry, Meetic, Be2, Parship, and others.

– article “Researchers Skeptical of Claims by Online Dating Sites”

– The comic “Zack Hill’s mom joins eHarmony”
Lois: Are you telling me that out of all these guys, you didn’t like one?
Jan: I did not.
Lois: This is like the phone directory for a small town!
Jan: The town of LoserVille.

– The report from Catalyst Group

The entire Online Dating Industry for serious daters in 1st World Countries has:
* No Legislation.
* No Quality Norms.
* Low reliable background checks.


Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.


Dating sites are differentiated from social networks because they provide two key things.

1. Intent. When someone uses a dating site they are demonstrating that they are single, available, and motivated (especially when they pay). This is important to people.

2. Anonymity. Dating sites offer a level of anonymity to users. Singles can reveal their identities once they are comfortable with the person they are talking to.

Fernando, I know you’ve not had success pitching your matchmaking product to the ‘big boys’ but this approach will not get you anywhere. I feel you’re bruised and upset at being rejected. That’s a shame. But you have some stiff competition with the likes of now. I expect they will get traction with the dating industry. Hang in there. Try and explain in more layman’s language about your matchmaking system and I think you’ll get further.

Mark Brooks

Sam Moorcroft

Fernando, your credibility is shot. See , , & , for starters

Your response has been to ignore the (repeated) requests from others to produce something of susbstance – and to keep posting the same nonsense on other blogs, such as this one.

Fernando Ardenghi

It is NOT Dating Recession, it is a more complex phenomenon:

1) Matchmaking Industry.
The Online Dating Industry should had killed the Matchmaking Industry and other Offline Dating Proposals since some years ago, but they are still alive, rosy and with good health.
The Matchmaking Industry is a USD 1,000 million in USA and Canada and another USD 1,000 million in Europe.

2) WorldWide paying members.
There are over 100 million singles in USA and Canada and over 100 million singles in Europe
WorldWide there are more than 5,000 online dating sites but they have less than 5 million persons as paid members. The Online Dating Market remains enormous!

3) Traffic of paid dating sites declined sharply during 2009 and continues.

* The 2009 showed big sites like Match, Chemistry, True, eHarmony, PerfectMatch, Be2, Parship, Meetic and other paid sites have WorldWide less traffic than 1 year ago or decaying in traffic.
It is not due to economic downturn or the traction of social networking sites.
It is a new phenomenon. Daters had understood that the entire Online Dating Industry for serious daters in 1st World Countries is a HOAX, performing as a Big Online Casino, with low successful rates.

* Free Online Dating Sites like OKCupid and PlentyOfFish increased their traffic.
If paid sites are offering the same as free sites, Where is the need to pay?

4) The biggest scammers are not from Ghana or Nigeria.
Match, eHarmony, Chemistry, PerfectMatch, True, Yahoo!Personals and others, what all they did since 1995 until now, were scamming paying members with marketing and credit card billing trickery. The Online Dating Industry needs a major earthquake or a major cataclysm to extinguish those large dinosaurs. The 2010 is the year of Online Dating Fatigue, you will see daters leaving in droves from old paid sites like Match, Chemistry, True, eHarmony, PerfectMatch, Be2, Parship, Meetic, etc.

5) Innovations are not adding more bells and whistles to actual online dating sites.
The Online Dating Industry is waiting for the innovative compatibility matching method which can kill the Matchmaking Industry and other Offline Dating Proposals.

Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.


Good luck getting a date when you are broke. You don’t buy her anything and she ain’t gonna give it up. So what’s the point of going out?

Jason the Fed

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