Match.com has sent letters to several rival dating sites demanding that they stop circulating what the company considers to be false statistics about their services. We reported yesterday that Match.com had asked PlentyOfFish to stop making some claims about its site — but Match.com CEO Greg Blatt tells us the company sent letters to other sites last week as well. “There are a number of players in the space who are really just trying to ‘get theirs’ and they make wild and misleading and unsupported claims on a regular basis on their sites, in their online advertising,” he says. “Over time, those kind of things erode people’s confidence in the category.” He declined to name sites other than PlentyOfFish, saying he didn’t want to give those competitors the “PR benefit” of naming them.
The dispute comes as Match.com’s traffic has been dropping off sharply, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR). But Blatt calls those numbers “sort of silly,” noting that Match.com recently purchased Singlesnet, which regularly ranks among the top dating sites by traffic, “for virtually nothing.” (Match.com parent IAC (NSDQ: IACI) never disclosed the purchase price). “ComScore … is really not at all demonstrative of the activity on the site and the success of the site,” he says.
During our chat, I asked Blatt whether Match.com, which in addition to Singlesnet, recently purchased People Media, was still on the look-out for acquisitions. “We’re always looking at things in the industry,” he says. “A lot of it is driven by price. At the end of the day, I think right now we’ve got the field pretty well covered — we’ve got Match which is the core, we’ve got Chemistry, we’ve got the People Media niche sites, which are more demographically targeted. There’s no gaping hole in our portflio, so I don’t think there’s a strategic need to buy anything in particular.”
For the record, Blatt is dismissive of two seemingly obvious holes in Match.com’s portfolio: A free offering and one based on an existing social network. Blatt says free is a “misnomer” since most so-called free sites, including PlentyOfFish, do have paid options. As for a social dating site, like Zoosk, Blatt says it’s a “subscription-based, paid dating site that does exactly what Match does only with far fewer people and not as good tools and features.”