3 minute read

Earlier this year, Stanford economist Dr. Paul Oyer released a fascinating new book entitled Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating.  In it, the author provides deep insights into the similarity between the various dating sites and more traditional market economies. Oyer proceeds to enumerate ways in which concepts like game theory and signaling strategies play out in these online social pairing environments. The inevitable thing is that the likelihood of successfully pairing with a person you find truly desirable depends a great deal on supply and demand.

Oyer stresses the need to participate in a “thick market,” that is a market where the population of those comprising a suitable demographic with ideal characteristics for you is as great as possible. So how can web analytics help you meet the person of your dreams?

With a vast proliferation of dating sites in the marketplace, simply choosing the right one or ones to participate in could make all the difference. To do this, we need look no further than Alexa Pro site comparisons. I built a representative comparison of 6 of the top dating sites including Plenty of Fish (POF), Match.com, OK Cupid, Zoosk, eHarmony, and How About We.

It’s clear right from the outset that the most highly-trafficked of these are POF, Match.com and OK Cupid, but are these the best for you? Possibly. It’s worth looking more deeply into the engagement metrics (how involved in the site are its users, not how many got engaged) and demographics of each site to learn more.

In terms of pageviews per user and time on site, both POF and OK Cupid perform very well, followed by Match.com. That might suggest that POF and OK Cupid users have more to choose from and a more engaging environment in which to navigate their choices. Zoosk, How About We and eHarmony have comparatively much less engagement, with Zoosk and How About We having very high bounce rates as well. Either their user experience isn’t up to par, or they typically offer less overall choice than the top three.

So among the leading sites with high traffic and high engagement, which one or ones do you choose? This will almost certainly come down to demographics. While all of these dating sites tend to have a greater percentage of women compared to the Internet average, if you’re a woman looking for a man, POF will offer you the least amount of competition (and therefore the most men to choose from) followed by Match.com. OK Cupid skews toward a larger female audience, indicating it’s a more favorable environment for men.

From an age perspective, OK Cupid is popular with a younger audience, being skewed toward the 18-34 age demographic, neutral among 35-54 year olds and highly underrepresented among older audiences. By Contrast, POF tends to be most concentrated in the 35-54 age bracket while Match.com is similarly less represented among younger age groups, neutral from 35-44 and much more prevalent and evenly distributed from 45-65+. Keep in mind; these demographics are relative to the Internet average and not absolute values, however, they do indicate the thickness of the available market in the demographic ranges you might care about.

So, if you’re young and male, OK Cupid might be your ideal destination. Somewhere between 35 and 54? POF is the thickest market, followed closely by Match.com. Now, we must reluctantly answer the question, “What if I want to date someone who makes a lot of money?” Compared to the Internet average, POF, Match.com, OK Cupid and Zoosk all have a high percentage of users making from 65-100k+. If you date someone from eHarmony or How About We, be prepared to split the bill.

Other, more specialized dating sites, while less trafficked, may offer very thick markets depending on what kind of person you’re looking for. JDate, Christian Mingle and Our Time all cater to much narrower demographics, are much more highly concentrated markets and therefore may offer just as much if not more opportunity to find the ideal mate depending on your religion or age bracket.

So the next time you’re tempted to use a pickup line in a bar, ditch the old routine and increase your chances of finding Ms. or Mr. right by using web analytics!