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Artificial intelligence, by pulling from a variety of places — say, a user’s Goodreads list or Instagram or list of charity donations — could more effectively match people than relying simply on a person’s own profile or questionnaire, he said.
Spark Networks, of course, already offers niche products, but Lisa Mc Lafferty, Spark’s new chief revenue officer and chief marketing officer at Peak6, says its aim is now to “refresh the brand.”“Over the last few rounds of management, the brand got a little lost,” she said.
Thombre, of the Match Group, said he would not speak publicly about his company’s acquisition strategy.
Whether JDate and Christian Mingle end up refreshed by Spark or in a new marriage remains to be seen. Goldberg did not want to address that issue, but he said he was certain of one thing: “I don’t know what it will look like, but I bet the world of online dating in 18 months to two years will look completely different than it does today.
The largest player in the field is the Match Group, with 51 dating sites; over the last few years alone it acquired such high-profile companies as Tinder and Plenty of Fish.“It’s never been cheaper to start a dating site and never been more expensive to grow one,” said Mark Brooks, a consultant for the internet dating industry who also runs Online Personals Watch.
Part of the problem, he said, is that 70 percent of internet dating in the United States is now on mobile.“It used to be 10 percent of those who registered converted to paid,” Mr. “Now it’s more like 2 to 3 percent.”Advertising can be tough to get, said Tom Homer, editor of the website Dating Sites Reviews, and on a mobile device it does not pay much because there is less real estate available than on regular websites.
And last year, with the acquisition of JSwipe, it branched out into the Tinder-like market of users who swipe left or right to find love.“Every Jew knows someone who knows someone who met on JDate,” said Aaron Young, Spark’s former vice president for business development and strategic partnerships.
But, as can sometimes be the case with online daters themselves, all is not what it seems.
Younger people are more likely to be interested in casual dating and more likely to use mobile devices for dating, the IBISWorld report states. Goldberg, the Peak6 president, sees it, now “there is growing frustration as people tire of swipe-based apps.” He added, “Consumers want companionship and deeper interactions, and the industry will have to adapt.”Some also see a move toward ever more niche sites like Mouse (Disney lovers) and Gluten Free (the name says it all).But, when you slice the pie ever thinner, “you’re also slicing your membership base,” Mr. Amarnath Thombre, chief strategy officer of the Match Group, disagrees.He does not see one approach growing at the expense of the other.Other tensions are pulling at the online dating industry.Do consumers want to find a special someone or just anyone?
In August, Spark sold 16 percent of its stock to the investment firm Peak6, laid off workers and closed its Israel office.