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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Internet Dating RoI

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I am a veteran of Internet Dating and Social Networkinng sites. I have tried almost all the services out there. Starting from v-india, match.com, fropper, eHarmony, etc. to the more recent web 2.0 ones: myspace, bebo, orkut, zorpia etc. There were many forgettable ones in between (lovehappens, friendster, ringo etc.). I have also tried out some of the Indian online marriage classified sites: Rediff Matchmaker, JeevanSathi etc. Given this background, I consider myself as a seasoned campaigner (maybe I should start a wiki about how to make these services work for you; there lies a profession in there!).

But IMHO none of them address the basic issue Return on Investment (RoI). Males are meant to pursue females. Thats the way we are built and the way our society works. Given a 50:50 ratio of both sexes, each girl will get requests from at least 10 to 25 % of the guys on the site. Which creates 1) a problem of choice for the girl (if she is indeed looking for a date) 2) spam (if she is not eg. on SocNet sites). This phenomenon is most visible on Orkut (at least amongst Indians). All the girls on Orkut get hundreds of friend requests from guys looking for a date. The more attractive looking female gets more requests. Some girls refuse flatly, some check out the profile once before refusing and sometimes, once in a while, she accepts! As usual the odds are stacked against the males here as well. The hit rate is around 1 % and the chances of some action is even lower; around 0.01%.

That is simply too low. It results in too much hard work without a guaranteed RoI. The traditional methods have much better hit rates. Ask your friends, join a salsa class or just randomly approach girls on the street (yup, i have done that too). To make these SocNet sites work, they have to increase the odds against the guys. The service has to assume that there will be more guys on the site and each guy would preferably want to try out all the attractive looking girls out there (why not!). Its job should be ensure that he has a fair chance of accomplishing that.

And the best way to do that is to offer incentive to the girls. A rewards based system in which the girls would want to interact with the guys since its in their interest. Feed their greed (gifts, shopping vouchers, talk time on mobiles etc.) and make them more responsive. Leave the rest up to the guy. Its up to him to get a date after that! Given a large and diverse userbase, such a system would end up being much more effective. After some hits and misses, you might just bump into your soul mate and she will at least reply back once (trust me, that is a big step). Its a win-win situation either ways: the guys get to romance a bit, and the girl gets some real meat out of it.

AFAIK there are no incentive based Internet dating services yet. There are numerous methods of implementing such a service. Make the guys pay during registration, distribute it to the girls when they actually respond to guys and keep a commission for yourself. Have a concept of virtual money which can be encashed with real money. Have a phone based system where the guys actually pay twice the amount to talk to the girl. Create implementations which caters to niche user groups. The underlying concept remains the same. The females are rewarded and the males pay for that.

It would be an interesting experiment to try out at least. Maybe I should talk to a VC. And get this patented as well. In case I don't get the funding, I'll at least become rich if someone else does! That would also automatically ensure me a date :).

Update: Some assumptions validated in this study.

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posted by Rajiv, 3:22 AM


Guaranteed RoI? What in blazes do you mean? Feed their greed? I know: whores - get whores.

Isn't it pleasure enough to appreciate a person, offer an ear, encourage someone, and make the life of a person (other than yourself) easier even for just brief moment? Did you perhaps turn dating into a game, or a business?

"If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction" -- Emma Goldman

Oh well, I just saw your blog in Technorati. Thanks for reading my note. Good luck!

Thanks for your informed comments and reading the post. You are welcome. Your opinion is really enlightning. :)

Take it easy if you can!
Said Blogger Rajiv, 12:26 PM  

Strange! We are working on similar lines (not _exactly_ same) but something very similar. A radically different game from the current generation of sites we have.

On a lighter note - ideas cannot be patented. You can only patent its implementation.
Said Anonymous Animesh, 12:30 PM  

oh cool. can i sign up as a beta tester?
Said Blogger Rajiv, 1:59 AM  

Nice idea. I ll be joining in salsa class soon !!
Said Blogger rskumaran, 4:14 AM  

Ha ha. Sure. Wud luv to have someone with such 'diverse' and longstanding experience in something as niche as this. :) Just let us roll it out first! Bootstrapping does take some time, you know.
Said Anonymous Animesh, 12:50 PM  

what a insightfull post . Thanks

Sukumaran . i went to trial salsa class today
its not worth a dime . we have to think of some other means

I am really interested in studies regarding matchmaking and dating ( I have worked on one of the leading matchmaking sites). What I feel is this - as comprehensive the machmaking process is, response from girl's side will be better.

The idea of incentives is great if it is a pure dating site.

But more than incentives, you should give a non-materialistic reason to contact guys directly.

Why don't girls respond that much? Many reasons.
1) Lack of trust.
2) Waiting for a better 'offer' (a.k.a Choosy)
3) just feeling 'all are flirts'.

May be we should think baout these more. my 2 cents :)

Just one addition.

Te book 'Freakanomics' has a good analysis on dating sites.

And thanks to you for 'sparking' this topic again in my head :)

Just landed up on this post.
A nice analysis and it stands till date (one year later!!).

I am not sure how the giving riders for girls will work out.

But yes, i agree upon the point that we have to incentivize the female population.

By the way, orkut can still be called a good success compared to host of other dating sites around.
One problem that dating sites in india have is with the lewd and inappropriate messages that girls receive. This is too some extant addressed by orkut, considering the scraps are public.

I guess something build on this premise with what you mentioned should work out !!

Said Blogger Ramjee, 9:54 PM  

Nice post! Well research, obviously from your experiences. Infact, I myself am doing a study on this right now, and am also starting a blog to help Indian men understand women better, and also tips on how to get women. Please visit http://www.pataoproject.com/ and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. As of now, the posts are generic and more thought induced rather than reactive to happenings in the dating scene in India. Do let me know what you think.

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