The everyday user of online dating sites may not realize it, but the online dating industry now consists of literally thousands of dating sites and matchmaking apps. These dating sites and apps span the globe and fill every niche and lifestyle.
However, the one thing that links these sites and the respective creators behind them is the industry-wide Online Dating Conference; fittingly called iDate. Recently we had a chance to sit down the Marc Lesnick, iDate organizer and get some of his insights on the online dating business.
Considering the fact that Mr. Lesnick has had the opportunity to talk about the in’s and out’s of the online dating business from all angles with creators of dating sites from all over the world, we were excited to share what he had to say.
‘8 on Online Dating’ – Interview with iDate Conference Organizer, Marc Lesnick
(Mr. Lesnick was on the heels of the upcoming Dating Industry Conference and so this was done via voice recognition. Any errors can be attributed to Technology. 🙂 )
1. How did you get involved in the Online Dating Industry?
It’s an odd story how I got involved in the online dating industry. Years ago I had a meeting with a large search firm. During lunch we talk about Internet markets with a lot of potential. Internet dating was one of them. I also checked and saw that they had no industry conference. So I raced home to buy the domains Internet dating conference and others. That was in 2003. We told everybody that year that the conference was happening. I didn’t care if nobody showed up. I just steamrolled ahead. Over 200 people showed up for the first event. Since then I never looked back. There have been 36 Internet dating conferences since, held all over the world.
2. What impact do you think Mobile Apps /Social Discovery Apps will have on the online dating industry?
Mobil already has an impact on the dating industry. The jury’s still out on social discovery, and I think it will be awhile before you see that have an impact on dating. But mobile has made the most profound impact; some dating apps have seen enormous growth in terms of their user base. But it comes at a price. And that price is less revenue. Right now I see the big winners in the dating industry are the consumers. Most of them are dating for free.
3. What is on the horizon for your dating site?
For iDATE we do several events a year. The big one of course is in January. The Los Angeles conference focuses on mobile. And our conference in Cologne, Germany precedes DMEXCO. We’re seeing huge growth there. We also do a conference every few years in a different continent. That will continue. We just a conference in Brazil last month. It was the first ever south American dating industry conference.
4. Do you feel online dating sites change the way people interact as far as dating goes? Or do you feel it’s merely a tool and society changes on it’s own.
Online dating is one form of technology, that along with a myriad of others used in our daily lives and change the way people interact with each other and change society as a whole. It has both his positives and negatives. On the positive side, we now have more options; we can involve ourselves in communities and like minded people that in a local environment without Internet we would never be exposed to. Same applies to dating. A man or woman have more options available and those that are more shy in public places can be more aggressive online, resulting in a more active social life.
On the negative side, I noticed that our patience wears thin. We tend to be more dismissive of people, actually even rude. That’s a concern for the future.
5. Have you ever used an online dating site? If so which one?
Yes I have. I’ve used a few. Actually I should use more. I’m just too busy running the events. The social aspects of dating take time. It’s not building the profile. It’s the conversation. And that problem that I have: time, is the same problem that all of our customers have. And so that is where we need to be resourceful and creative.
6. What changes do you see happening in the online dating industry as a whole?
Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. It’s a game changer. And it’s not just at the user level. It also changes the economics of the entire industry, and drastically. 10 to 20% of the CEOs that I see at IDATE are attempting to adapt or have adapted already. But I see at least 50% of the industry are just running on autopilot. There’s a sledgehammer aimed at them and unless they adapt they are sitting ducks.
The other issue is fraud. Fraud has now hit three levels: user fraud, affiliate fraud, and operator fraud. Operator fraud is the worst of all as it makes us all look bad. One operator has been exposed on several times now on British investigative television documentaries. For both myself and Mark Brooks as industry proponents, this one company has made harder for us to make the argument that there are good people in this industry. A lot harder.
7. Do you feel private label dating platforms operated by small niche operators will play a role in the future of online dating.
Definitely. I like to think of it is evolution of the dating operator. If the dating operator is successful, it makes sense private label his or her own database. Their business grows substantially while at the same time protecting their place market.
8. If you could change one thing about the dating industry tomorrow what would it be?
Remove the fraud. Once the stigma is removed the result will be enormous growth.
9. What is the single biggest challenge of operating a dating site?
There’s really two: users and profit. A dating operator needs more users and he or she ultimately runs a business, so it needs to be profitable.
10. Do you feel the online dating industry needs more regulation?
I’ve seen both attempts at regulation as well as actual laws that were passed. State senators have presented at IDATE. All have said the same; self regulate or we will. And all have said you don’t want us to regulate you. I have found the operators and dating industry willingness to work together similar to herding cats.
11. What’s missing in the world of online dating?
One thing there is never enough of …. LOVE
Again, we would like to thank Marc Lesnick, Organizer for the Internet Dating Industry Conference for taking the time to go, ‘8 on Online Dating’ and share some of his insights with us at DatingWebsiteReview.net. The goal is, as always, merely to inform and engage.
Lastly, I also just wanted to mention that our Online Dating Awards are not intended to in any way compete with the iDate Official Awards. We are looking forward to them as much as the rest of you. Our Golden Heart Consumer Choice Online Dating Awards should be considered a supplementary industry award, valuable in their own right and distinct in the fashion by which the Golden Hearts are awarded.
If you are in the Online Dating Industry or looking to learn more about the Online Dating Industry we hope to see you at the upcoming iDate conference. Otherwise, make sure to check out our consumer dating site reviews and online dating deals!
UPDATED WITH ANNUAL iDATE AGENDA VIDEO: