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iDate Update – Highlights from the Internet Dating Conference

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The theme was mostly mobile at the summer iDate 2009 – the Internet Dating Conference, ?the business conference for the online dating industry. It was combined once again with the Social Networking Conference and was held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Highlights and comments include:

  • Mobile dating is the new plastic
  • Social networking and online dating are now a killer combination as social dating
  • Social networking sites are becoming people’s identity on the web
  • Instant Messaging is still an important feature
  • Virtual Gifts are on the rise: Facebook reported $60 million in sales

Here’s my detailed report.

The online dating industry, which is now estimated to be at a billion dollars a year, is filled with challenges in today’s economy. It’s a business that loses its members when they are either successful in finding love online or they cancel their subscription due to dissatisfaction. ?The group estimated that 1-2 out of every ten dates were considered successful by its members.

The first day of the conference focused on the mobile dating models led by industry leader Mark Brooks, Publisher of Online Personals Watch. We were treated to a presentation on trends by Google’s John Ploumitsakos, Head of Classifieds & Local Advertising: Online Sales and Operations, and there was a special session on Television & the Dating Industry from Patti Stanger, Millionaire Matchmaker and CEO of the Millionaire’s Club. Patti and I are almost related. It turns out that her cousin married my cousin. It’s a small world, indeed!?

I enjoyed the session, “To IM or Not to IM” which reviewed all of the available services suited for Internet dating sites.The evening ended with the ?MaxPayments cocktail party at the Stone Rose Lounge, graciously hosted by Moss Networks, a Marketing/PR/Events firm. You know this company is filled with creativity as they had special drinks of the evening, including the Moss Martini, the MaxPayment Tini, the iDate Flirtini, the MaxPayments Manhattan, and the Moss Mai Tai.

Day two of the event featured a social networking presentation by Alex Mehr, CEO of Zoosk. Zoosk is the largest social dating app on the net now and was featured in the Cyber-Dating Expert Radio Show on Valentine’s Day. You can check out their service on Facebook, Hi-5, Bebo, and MySpace. They have over 11 million users now!

The highlight of the two day event is always the Final Panel Debate about the state of the industry. The group was challenged to figure out how to become a 5 billion dollar business by the year 2012, instead of the 1.9 billion dollar estimate from a Jupiter Communication’s research study. On hand were Ploumitsakos from Google, Ted Veroni from Jumbuck, Mehr from Zoosk, Marina Glogovac-former CEO of Lavalife, Liz Wasserman from Mate1, and Josh Meyers from People Media-who has 27 niche online dating sites, including the successful BlackPeopleMeet.com.

Some new services included Chemistry-Matching: a user-friendly home test that determines your physical attraction, personality match based on social-psychological compatibility, chemistry match based on a biological compatibility, and an overall match combining personality and chemistry. Also, there is a new service called LetsCallMe.com where you receive calls via web link to prevent revealing your phone number or the number of your cyber-date. The purpose is not to share your phone identity until you have had the chance to meet. The question remains, will online dating users pay for these additional services?

Congratulations to Mark Brooks and Mark Lesnick for once again producing a terrific event for the online dating industry.

Julie Spira is an author, entrepreneur, and cyber-dating expert. She is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. Visit her at www.CyberDatingExpert.com.

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