Archive for July, 2011

SkaDate Wizardry: Profile Building
(A Harry Potter Edition)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

by Zima

Harry Potter

Buyskadetus! (Real spell, we swear).

Here we go people! The very last Harry Potter is unleashed on the world’s population this week, so it’s time to start dressing up as wizards and catching up on the updated Quidditch regulations for the 2011 season. Taking a step further, online daters can decorate their profiles thematically, and use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the end of the era (and also to romantically cash-in on the Potter-love at the same time). Luckily, SkaDate Dating Software comes equipped with all the necessary magic tools for members to play around and bring their profiles up to speed. Allow me to demonstrate.

The necessary powerful customization options are available under ‘My Profile’ link. Let’s start with background. Initially it will be set as a default theme chosen by the Dumbl… the Administrator. While I do trust the website owner and his splendid taste, the occasion demands me to be a little more creative. I can chose any color of the background from a handy palette, or even better – use a custom image. Let’s set the mood right away with an emo-looking Harry Potter closeup, and then wait for the Admin to approve it. Ah… Much better already!

Now, at this stage the profile looks somewhat empty, so let’s liven it up with some busy elements. It is done by Adding Components, including Blogs, Forums, Friend Lists, Groups and other self explanatory things, in addition to more exiting features such as Custom HTML, Media Player, and RSS Feed.

Take that RSS Feed for instance. As I set out to make the best possible Potter-themed profile, it is only natural that my page will feature a stream with related Harry Potter news. After searching the web for approximately 2 minutes I settle on a very comprehensible feed from Harry Potter’s Page. What’s left to do is copy the feed URL to my RSS Settings Box, chose how many news it will display at a time, and give the feed a name. Done. Now everyone who’ll view my profile will learn that Emma Watson had a huge crush on Tom Felton. Pity they didn’t use it in one of the movies…

OK, moving on. Since we are dealing with a movie-related profile, the page should definitely have some pictures on it. Sure, I have a separate option to upload photo albums, but let’s do something even more fun. Let’s add a component called Custom HTML. This box allows members to spruce up their pages with side widgets. Just don’t forget that Java and iFrame are potentially harmful scripts, so SkaDate won’t work with them. So, instead I’ll focus on finding Potter-widgets written in HTML, Flash Embed and Objects codes. Sure enough, WidgetBox has plenty to chose from, and I’ll be picking up the one that allows my visitors to scroll through the Red Carpet photos from the London Premiere. Maybe we can catch a glimpse of Tom and Emma together, who knows…

Would you look at that, the page is really taking off at this point. I am almost ready for Prime Time! I’ll leave ‘My Profile’ for a sec, to add the latest trailer for Deathly Hallows under ‘Video’, set up a Harry Potter Premiere event under, well, ‘Events’, and change my profile picture to that of Tom Felton. Hmm, let’s not be so obvious and change that again to Ron Weasley. At least we are both redheads and clumsy, so that might be more appropriate and honest.

After returning to the profile customization area I realize that my already awesome page lacks a distinctive sound. I am sure all my potential dates will love to have an appropriate soundtrack while looking trough Potter pictures, videos, news, as well as information about me. So let’s jump to MixPod real quick (or any other website that lets you create playlists), select several tracks from various Harry Potter Soundtracks and get an embed code to insert into our MPlayer Box, which is also available under the Components menu. As a last touch let’s rearrange all the visual elements on the page by drag-and-dropping them for a slicker look.

And, voila, ladies and gentlemen! In just under 20 minutes SkaDate Dating Software allowed me to set up a stylish personal profile with a clear and appealing Harry Potter theme. Which actually got me thinking… Emma Watson is nice and all, but liking a franchise based on a series of children books is not likely to score me any additional dates. Perhaps I should start thinking about rebuilding the profile from scratch and joining Team Edward in anticipation of the latest Twilight release…

Harry Potter Profile

Click for a bigger picture.

 

Just Business

Friday, July 8th, 2011

by Zima

BusinessJust last month I’ve posted about the ban the Chinese army imposed on online dating. That sounded like a large (if not easily accessible) chunk of potential customers was eliminated from the game. This week, however, it was revealed that the virtual matchmaking industry is expanding at an alarming rate in this fastest-growing major economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that last year alone Chinese dating sites amassed over 19 million members. This number, however, represents only ten percent of the total crowd of presently single Chinese Internet users. In just four years the business is expected to triple in the country. How does that translate to money? The Industry will collect $290 million in 2015 as opposed to $74 million this year.

Interestingly, when it comes to estimating projected online dating profits, analysts tend to be somewhat off sometimes. For instance, in 2007 Jupiter Research said the total revenue generated by dating sites would grow to $1.9 billion by 2012. This number, however, represented the online dating market value already in 2010. Moreover, the figure associated with online dating services is expected to top 4 billion before the end of this year. That’s a lot, to say the least. In all likelihood, with the current exponential growth, the Chinese numbers might go up even higher.

So, should we start learning Chinese, while looking for expansion? Well, yes and no. It is a well known fact that timely conquests of new emerging markets bring plenty of dividends. In this sense, hiring Chinese-speaking staff and tapping the mostly uncharted waters just might prove a viable strategy. Luckily, the SkaDate Dating Software is also up to the task as Mandarin is one of ten languages the solution offers. Still, if that investment sounds too risky, know that the English-speaking market is still going strong as well.

Consider that even during the peak of recession online dating never lost traction and was actually gaining momentum, with some sites reporting about annual sales growth in the range of 400%! Sure, most of the time the industry numbers are driven by giants, like Match.com, OkCupid, or PlentyOfFish, but smaller niche sites usually follow the lead, if not take it, when it comes to breaking records.

Skipping the US, and the aforementioned China, the trend is observed all across the globe as well. That amazing 400% figure came from Hamburg-based Parship, which went international in 2002, and now provides its services in 12 European markets and Mexico. In Australia online dating revenue exceeds $100 million, making it the most online-dating-obsessed country in the world based on per-capita calculation. Russia and India are catching up as well, showing as much as 50% growth rate on a year-to-year basis.

All of this is understandable considering the reasons people turn to online dating in the first place. The Internet widens horizons considerably, allowing for more opportunities to meet potential partners. The removed pressure, the simplicity of the process, the affordability, convenience, and better security compared to offline interaction, all contribute to the widespread popularity of the virtual matchmaking.

The growing familiarity with social networking helps the industry as well. As Facebook revealed this week that it now has 750 million users, while Google Plus positioned itself to become the next big thing, it is all but clear that the general population is fully embracing social media. The inevitable tug-of-war is expected to create a large enough wave to lift all boats. If online socializing is accepted by the majority of global Internet users, other aspects of virtual communication, including dating, will also see a spike in recognition.

What we have on our hands is a trend with no visible signs of slowing down. Understandably, the competition for the marketshare is high, but so are the possible profits and the number of potential customers. The truth is – with the right approach and careful consideration of strategy and opportunities, the world can still be your oyster.

Fourth of July Special: Online Dating and Four US Presidents

Monday, July 4th, 2011

by Zima

Goldblum

You can punch us intellectually any time, Mr. Goldblum.

If we are to believe Hollywood, the 4th of July is not about barbecues, fireworks, beer, or the adoption of that one Declaration. It’s about US presidents delivering patriotic and emotional speeches before indulging in badassery, like killing aliens.

 

Now, we all know that online dating under President Bill Pullman would be practically nonexistent, since, you know, he’d be running a constant risk of being punched in the face by Jeff Goldblum (both physically and intellectually).  In ID4 Goldblum is shown capable of hacking an alien mothership using a Mac, for crying out loud, so he would have no problems getting into the President’s profile (unless, it was encrypted with the SkaDate Dating Software, of course) and finding out what really went on between Pullman and Goldblum’s ex-girlfriend…

In all seriousness, though, the real US presidents are actually far more cooler than their cinematic caricatures, so let’s take a look at our history and deliberate what the world of online dating would be like under four great US presidents.

Andrew Jackson

Jackson

Andrew Jackson. That’s how people perceived him back then.

We all know that until recently online dating sported a stigma of the activity reserved for those who were inadequate in real-life dating. We also know that this is not true and never really was. We, however, did nothing physical to change this perception, patiently waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Because, let’s face it, what could we do? Beat people into submission until they agree with our point of view?

 

But that’s exactly what the seventh US president Andrew Jackson would have done. The man just wouldn’t take no for an answer. He might have been a bully, but he also was a WINNER (I hope Charlie Sheen hasn’t entirely spoiled the concept). I mean once he took a bullet in the chest on a duel and then proceeded to shot and kill his opponent. Another time he became the first president to be shot by an assassin (unsuccessfully), and then proceeded to beat down his attacker with a cane (and not kill him). Actually, according to different sources, Jackson took part in anywhere from 13 to 100s’ of duels and still managed to stay alive and shape up the future Democratic Party. We’ll leave that up to you to decide whether that last one is good or bad.

Theodore Roosevelt

Here we have a president, who’d read through Jackson’s biography and laugh at it for not being violent enough. Roosevelt might not have dueled his opponents, but that was presumably because no one in their right mind would challenge him. Roosevelt had a black belt in jujitsu, was an excellent boxer, and always carried his trusty gun even inside the White

Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt: That’s his dating face. Also, that’s the face of a jujitsu-elephant-killer.

House. Isn’t that an exemplary dating profile right there? He also was blind in one eye after a boxing match, suffered from malaria, and had a bullet lodged in his chest for 7 years after an assassination attempt. But none of that stopped his ability to lead the nation, kill elephants (literally) and skinny-dip in Potomac.

 

Suffice to say, Roosevelt would take the online dating industry and turn it into extreme competitive sport. The losers would then be fed to his own bear and lion – personal pets, which lived in the White House during his term. Consider that different US presidents definitely influenced people in their social behavior, of which online dating is now a big part. Clinton’s era was more fun, jazz and denial, Bush injected all interactions with a dose of healthy insanity, and Obama seems to be bringing a younger approach of ‘try-everything-at-least-once’. Under Teddy we’d all be indulged in role-playing. At one point or another he was a president, a cowboy, a police commissioner, a governor, an explorer, a war veteran, and a god damn superhero in general. I bet with Roosevelt on top we’d hear far fewer stories about online dating scam. Because when you hear ‘scam’ and ‘Roosevelt’ in the same sentence you know that one of them is not likely to survive.

John F. Kennedy

Kennedy

Three to Tango? Hmm… A good campaign slogan.

Let’s not kid ourselves, JFK would make the dating industry really prosper. In fact, he would probably make any industry prosper if it had at least something to do with beautiful women or sewer grates. More importantly, had online dating been around at the time, Kennedy would have likely been a real proponent of the industry. After all it would have allowed for a much easier and discreet communication with the likes of Monroe, Hepburn, and Mansfield, all the while remaining happily married to someone like Jackie O.

In all likelihood the entire world would have benefited from JFK’s support for the online dating industry. Just think of the possibilities! Being already a sort-of rock star politician when he took the office at the age of just 43, Kennedy had all the chops to take the virtual matchmaking to the next level. He widely used live TV interviews to his advantage – Video Chat. He influenced fashion trends and often appeared on the covers – Newsfeed Staple. He loved art, politics and pop culture – Niche Branching. His extensive family includes prominent businessmen, media personalities and yes, even more politicians – Networking. Plus he knew the moves – he could rule the country and court three different women at once any given time.

Barack Obama

Obama

Care for some distraction?

While running a dating website under the presidency of any of the aforementioned fine people (perhaps, except for JFK) would have been more adventurous than practical, it would also entail some rigid habit changing on the part of the membership. And who is better at promising changes than Barack Obama? True, some of these changes might still be miles away, but at least everyone feels good about themselves after listening to the man. (He also thinks Kanye West is a jackass. So he must be on to something.)

In all honesty, I don’t think we ever had a president, who was so openly embracing social media (thus online dating by extension). A man who is bested only by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber in Twitter followers, and features prominently in a swarm of Internet memes (oh, the achievements!) must understand the mechanics of our industry. Or maybe not… Here is an actual quote: “Online dating is a distraction and the experience had evolved to where information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment rather than a tool of empowerment.” Wait, what? The ‘Online President’ thinks that a virtual love flow is a distraction? Eh, I guess he is still young and has a lot to learn about ‘distractions’ and ‘dating’ from Kennedy, Roosevelt and Jackson…

The SkaDate Dating Software team wishes everyone a happy Fourth of July!

Online Dating June Roundup

Friday, July 1st, 2011

by Zima

June was an incredibly busy and extended month for a summer start, don’t you think? A lot has happened, both at SkaDate and across the online dating lanscape in general. Seeing as how there are 5 Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in July, the season is not likely to slow down any time soon. So, let’s go back and see what happened in the world of virtual matchmaking in the past 30 days. Here’s what you might have missed.

Monkey

June: Google says this picture is related.

Business Deals

The Expansion of Niches

Potential Risks

The Future of Online Dating

Entertaining News

SkaDate June Posts

Let’s talk business first. Perhaps the most notable monetary transfer of the month came on June 23, when Scottish dating company Cupid purchased two German matchmaking services for a healthy total of £2.5m. If anything this proved that a viable business strategy for startups in the industry might be to grow steadily until noticed by one of the giants. Although now a part of the larger corporation, both sites will still be run by a Munich team, while Cupid continues to implement it’s international strategy. At present the Edinbourg-based firm collects monthly revenues in excess of £4m.

One of the top stories of the month, widely covered by both mainstream and independent media, was the emergence of a new major niche in baby boomers. As online dating quickly continues to shed it’s prior stigmas, a more mature audience takes notice. According to a research done by IBISWorld, adults in the 47-68 category now represent around 20% of all online daters. This is quite a significant figure in our 4-billion-dollar industry. Last month we have also covered this phenomenon in our June 10th article The Dating Boom.

It’s not all about the boomers though, as CNN, Huffington Post, and College Times all ran stories about the return of college-specific dating sites. We seem to have come full circle, considering the roots of Facebook. Small but successful sites specifically targeting college students seem to be all the rage at the moment.

Baby-boomers, college students… This type of thing screams ‘why haven’t I thought of that first‘! Not to worry, though; the trend is only gaining momentum now, so there is still enough room for everybody. I also want take this opportunity and repeat once again (as I often do in this blog), that a carefully chosen niche will work miracles money-wise. Here is our Friday-night take on the selection of extreme themes for a potential dating site – Dating Site Ideas That Can Get You in Trouble (Or Make You Money).

As always, the web was afloat with alarming stories about the darker side of the biz. Privacy concerns, potential risks, and the false sense of security the Internet creates, all contribute to a steady flow of articles about online safety. One of the stranger pieces was produced by CBS News in Eight Things That Can Go Wrong When Online Dating. This was one of those instances, where ‘serious’ media looks down on anything web-related as if it was some alien life-form. The feature linked online dating with probabilities of getting robbed, murdered, or infected with an STD while going out. Ignoring the broken logic, this is puzzling at best, since the implication seems to be that nothing of the sort has ever happened prior to the emergence of the industry. What’s next really? Shaking our heads at MySpace for the spread of ADD and uncontrolled rage disease?

MySpace

One Thing That Can Go Wrong When Using MySpace.

Dating site owners can still benefit from this information, though. This is an incredibly fertile ground for topics to discuss with their members, which will show that the network really cares about its community. Sharing tips, ideas, as well as generally providing constant two-way communication with the user-base always contributes to building credibility and expanding the membership.

Montreal’s The Gazette took a wider approach to covering dating risks both on and off-line, noting that another source of unpleasant virtual interaction can come from scammers and spammers. The same topic was touched upon by San Francisco Chronicle and ABC News. Luckily, SkaDate Dating Software comes equipped with tools to counter this specific threat. (Read more on the matter in our post SkaDate Features: Spam Filtering).

Quibecers might have been subtle while dealing with the risks issues. Not such luck with Alberta, another Canadian province, which decided to launch its public health awareness campaign by creating a site called PlentyofSyph.com, clearly mocking PlentyofFish.com. The idea might have seem clever on paper, but most online analysts question the strategy, which damages a highly successful and respected home brand along the way.

On a lighter note, several media outlets took a look at the future of online dating. As we witness the fizzling out of MySpace and the introduction of Google’s response to Facebook, several industry players look for expansion possibilities by gradually merging virtual matchmaking with other forms of social networking. One such case was described in the Washington Post article on the rapidly growing Clique – a New York based service that is one part Facebook and one part Match.com.

Another interesting observation came from New Zealand, where the media reported a surge in speed and online dating following the powerful earthquake last February. Perhaps, this is the sign that we are finally ready to accept the fact that the Internet is slowly gaining momentum in becoming the primary medium for sharing sincere emotions. Both of these stories were featured prominently in our editorial post Shaping the Future of Online Dating from June 28th.

Finally, there were a few entertaining or simply fun stories worth reporting about. For instance, The Independent took it upon itself to dispel several myths linked with online dating, including the one about the medium reserved strictly for unattractive people. This is something DaniWeb IT Discussion Community can relate to, as it featured a post about the Shrek Virus allowing 30,000 less-then-attractive people bypass the arguably shallow ugliness filter at BeautifulPeople.com.

But of course, the main story of the month was not about the money, potential risks, or the future of the industry. It was about the over-emotional eHarmony member, who just really really loves cats… (Read our take on the Viral Phenomenon in the post Last Call: Hot Summer Deals (And a Few Useful Ideas)).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTwcCVajAc&feature=grec_index

The List of SkaDate June Posts

DATING SITE IDEAS THAT CAN GET YOU IN TROUBLE (OR MAKE YOU MONEY)

June 3rd, 2011

ABOUT SOFTWARE UPGRADES

June 7th, 2011

THE DATING BOOM

June 10th, 2011

HOT DEAL: SKADATE 8 + MOBILE EDITION 30% OFF!

June 14th, 2011

LAST CALL: HOT SUMMER DEALS (AND A FEW USEFUL IDEAS)

June 17th, 2011

SKADATE FEATURES: SPAM FILTERING

June 21st, 2011

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF ONLINE DATING

June 24th, 2011

PAID SOLUTIONS VS. STARTING FROM SCRATCH

June 28th, 2011