In news that will surprise absolutely nobody who knows how dating sites work, an expose this week revealed that you can buy the dating profiles of 2,500 lesbians for $120; 70,000 Australians for $95; and gay men for .003 cents each.
Online dating has been a huge vertical for affiliates for years, with an explosion of niche sites that seems to never slow down at all. And this is the reason: dating site software platforms are cheap, and any budding entrepreneur can populate a new site’s database with current dating profiles for just a few hundred bucks. It’s much quicker and cheaper than spending $5 a person for organic customer acquisition.
BetaBeat has the scoop:
SaleDatingProfiles and its competitors BuyProfiles. com and DatingProfilesSale. com offer a shortcut. They sell bulk packages of profiles that seem to include a fair number of actual singles alongside somewhat more questionable Russian beauties, Nigerian bankers and half-empty profiles, which sometimes sell for less than a dime a dozen…Buying and selling profiles is just one of many unsavory tactics in the online dating industry. One site owner referred to these practices as “black hat dating.”
Inevitably, imaginative businesspeople have come up with other ideas to smooth the way for new dating sites:
A close cousin to the profile seller is the “white label” dating service. Want to start a new dating site? White label databases are often used to pre-populate niche sites. With services like DatingFactory, WhiteLabelDating and WorldDatingPartners, you can tap into a large database, slap your logo on top, and advertise that you have hundreds of thousands of members. As new people sign up for your site, their profiles get copied into the main database to be reused by other sites. Sometimes the white label-powered sites ask new customers where they want their profiles to appear, but usually it’s a clause buried deep in the terms of service that allows “affiliate sites” to share profiles. Did you sign up for HotEquestrianDates? Your profile might show up on BikerRomance—which could make for an awkward first date.
David Evans of Online Dating Insider comments:
Each new dating site needs faces for its catalog, and much of the dubious behavior is driven by the need for more profiles. “I talk to dating startups a couple times a week,” Mr. Evans said. “Everyone wants to talk about the cold database problem.”…In general, it’s mostly small players that buy profiles, Mr. Evans said. “It’s these latecomers, like people still trying to start dating sites,” he said. “Like, oh my God, don’t you have anything better to do?"
David Evans again on his own site:
I’m often asked about whether or not a site should acquire dating profiles to avoid the empty database problem. Each and every time my recommendation is no. Put on your big-boy pants and do what everyone else does, sign up new members, one at a time. My reasoning is simple. If you can’t grow a site from zero to several thousand members in a few months through Google, Facebook or ads on POF, you probably shouldn’t be in the business. Dating sites are 100% driven by ad spend and affiliate marketing and as I tell new startups, you’re not in the dating business, you’re in the Internet marketing business now.
Read the articles at the links and, as so often seems to be the case, you will find discussion of the influence of Russian gangsters. Is there any part of the online marketing industry that isn’t plagued by these guys?