online dating market – down in US, up in EU

isJupiter Research has released the results of two studies of the online dating industry.

While the online dating market in the US appears to have saturated, with the value of the market actually declining by 1% in 2005, the European market increased by 43% in 2005. That’s less than in 2004, when the European online dating market increased by 80%, but there is still significant room for growth: whilst in America 20% of internet users used dating sites, only 4% in Europe did.

The author of the studies told BBC News Online that social networking and community sites like myspace "don’t have the tools or the right audience" to help people find a date (Instead, he points to high subscription charges as the key barrier to users becoming members.)

Really?! So posting a photo, having a profile, joining groups and finding other users who share your interests, making friends, meeting up with other users, etc – none of that helps people find a date? Sure, it doesn’t say "online dating" at the top of myspace or flickr or craigslist but the tools are there and surely people are using them.

No matter how many times we hear about a couple meeting on an online dating website, or read industry press releases telling us how normal it is to meet on one, the fact of the matter is that many still feel there is a stigma attached to online dating sites. Less so for online community and social networking sites where dating does happen but more discreetly – and it’s those users who aren’t quite sure about online dating, but who are at ease with sharing content and being a part of online communities, that dating sites need to attract to continue the market growth of recent years.

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