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As Mark Brooks contends, saturation in the mainstream market has led to a scenario in which “the only real entrepreneurial opportunities left in the online dating world lie in the niche market” .
Even so, the move toward specialized online dating services is a product of more than just audience growth.
In particular, niche marketing is an excellent way to attract advertising dollars since it allows advertisers to distribute ads to their target audience(s) with greater precision, thereby reducing circulation waste .
According to a recent article from Vice News, Grindr, a mobile dating app that specifically targets gay men, earns just over 25% of its revenue through advertising, whereas advertising dollars only account for about 10%–20% of revenue for Ok Cupid, a more mainstream site .
Turow describes this as part of a larger cultural movement of social fractionalization in which the nation as a whole became more ideologically fragmented, claiming, “As U. society became more divided, it needed more outlets to reflect those divisions.
People no longer wanted to be treated in ‘batches,’ as mass markets” (, p. In today’s digital environment, where people have grown accustomed to being greeted by name when they visit their favorite websites and receiving customized content that reflects their individual preferences, the pressure to personalize seems to have reached even loftier heights.
Implications for both online daters and site producers are discussed. From Veggie for vegetarians to Date for redheads, online dating companies are setting their sights on increasingly specific segments of the population with niche websites that profess to facilitate romantic connections based on shared user characteristics.
Even mainstream dating services that aim for broader audiences, such as e Harmony and Match.com, now feature specialized sections for various subgroups of users based on race, religion, and other distinctive qualities. Brooks explains this trend as an appeal to users’ desires for targeted services, stating, “It’s the same reason why Procter & Gamble makes so many detergents.
Mark Brooks, dating industry consultant and editor of Online Personals Watch.com, estimates that about 44 percent of all dating sites in the U. We are all drawn to things that cater to our very specific desires” .
Describing this transition, Susan Carpenter of the states, “There just wasn’t a market for most niches until online dating as a whole had reached a critical mass of users and acceptability, and that’s only happened within the last few years” .
Not only is there now a market for niche dating sites, but it appears that these sites are responsible for the bulk of the industry’s recent growth .