February 12, 2008 / 11:32 AM / 10 years ago

Match.com eyes social networks for subscribers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Online dating site Match.com has made its own resolution for 2008: to get out and meet more people, or in this case, potential subscribers.

A screenshot of Match.com, taken on February 12, 2008. Online dating site Match.com has made its own resolution for 2008: to get out and meet more people, or in this case, potential subscribers. REUTERS/www.match.com

Match is in the midst of a foray into Internet social networks, testing an application for online hangout Facebook, and seeks growth in new vehicles for its subscription service, according to Chief Executive Thomas Enraght-Moony.

“We’re extending Match to wherever people are,” Moony told Reuters in an interview in New York on Monday. “MySpace has announced their platform initiative, we’re exploring that. If they opened up the Nintendo Wii (video game console), I’d probably do that as well.”

After building sites for lonely hearts in 37 countries, Match posted slower global subscriber growth at the end of 2007 from a year ago as it fends off competition from rival services, as well as from social networks themselves.

Revenue grew in the fourth quarter last year as it raised rates, but the marketing costs involved in attracting new clients weighed on profits.

Parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp expects growth to pick up again at Match in the second quarter, working off gains from heavier advertising that plays on a fresh start to the New Year, as well as fears of a solitary Valentine’s Day.

But as Web users still flock to Facebook and News Corp’s MySpace, their comfort level with exposing their personalities online rises.

That could ultimately help a service such as Match, where new membership is still hampered by personal misgivings over telling a large audience “Hello, I’m single.” Moony notes that an advertising partnership with MySpace has become Match.com’s fastest-growing source of new subscribers.

“This is a category in which almost everyone who can participate, doesn’t participate,” he said, citing estimates that of nearly 92 million U.S. singles, only 3 million subscribe to a dating service. “People are unwilling to admit that they’re looking.”

In some cases, Match has refined its services for particular countries in the spirit of their dating culture.

The company’s site in Japan includes information on a person’s blood type in their member profiles. It also offers income verification to prove just how much that attractive lawyer or architect really earns in a year.

While U.S. television commercials this month highlight both the success and romance of a good match, advertising in Britain takes a cheeky turn by portraying a middle-aged Cupid being teased by his fickle friend Fate in a pub.

“You’re never going to be successful with the Brits by telling them what to do or delivering them some inspirational, heartfelt message,” said Moony. “You need a joke, you need a good British joke to break the awkward silence.”

Editing by Andre Grenon

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