Just ask Mark Brooks, who has worked in and around the industry for two decades. It's estimated that 15% of Americans have used dating websites or apps, with numbers expected to rise in the next many years. Marketers have played a huge role in helping this industry grow from simple online personals to complex platforms with millions of users. New innovations and a growing user base now give marketers more data than ever to play with in online dating. No website has found the magic method of creating a love connection.“This is a total virgin science,” Brooks quips with a restrained laugh from his deck in Malta.Brooks runs Courtland Brooks, an agency that provides strategy, marketing, business development, and media relations for companies in the online dating world.He’s worked with websites like Plentyof and and has seen the industry through multiple eras, from the early days of online personals to companies scrambling for mobile relevance.Competition has grown along with the size of the industry.Reports say there are anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000 online dating platforms worldwide, all with their own unique claim or angle to attract users.
The stigma of meeting your soulmate through a website is dwindling by the day, experts say, especially for millennials and Generation Z.
Melanie Shreffler, senior editorial director of “The Cassandra Report” by Engine Group, which looks at emerging trends and youth behavior of people ages 14 to 34, found that platforms are looking to give a more realistic experience to win over more users.
“People want the other person [they meet] to be real and not just some online façade,” she says.
Opportunities for the younger crowd to join an online dating service can be found in the numbers, such as the juxtaposition of 83% of young people Cassandra surveyed preferring to meet a potential partner in person but only 40% having ever actually asked someone on a date face-to-face.
Squishing aside, the increased interest has meant huge revenue.
IBISWorld reports the online dating industry was worth billion in 2015 and poised for even more growth.