The holidays are almost here and while many people are busy looking for gifts for loved ones, many are also looking to make a new romantic connection.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, paid search spend in the dating category averaged $4.3 million per month, an 11% increase over the $3.8 million monthly average for the preceding 9 months of the year.
To assess competition in the dating category, we looked at 312 top branded and non-branded keywords being sponsored by dating advertisers via U.S. Google desktop text ads from January through October 2016.
According to AdGooroo data, the top-ranked site by spend was InterActiveCorp’s Match.com, which spent more than $5.7 million on the keyword group but, more importantly, drove more clicks than any other advertiser during the period—9.4 million at an average cost per click of $0.61. For comparison, the second ranked advertiser, the reviews site Top10BestDatingSites.com, spent nearly $5.6 million and generated just around 1.2 million clicks at an average CPC of $4.81.
However, it may be more instructive to consider Match.com’s results in comparison with those of other dating brands in the ranking. eHarmony.com spent nearly $3.6 million and drove 3.2 million clicks at a $1.11 average CPC, while another IAC brand OurTime.com spent $2.6 million and drove 4.6 million clicks at a $0.57 average CPC. Perhaps the most successful brand in the ranking was Zoosk.com, which spent just $1.2 million but drove the second most clicks, nearly 4.9 million, at the lowest average cost per click in the ranking, $0.25.
Paid Search Makes for Strange Bedfellows
Another notable aspect of the top 20 ranking of dating advertisers by paid search spend is the diversity of businesses/services represented.
For example, there are a variety of online dating services in the ranking that are targeted toward specific demographics, such as OurTime.com and SingleAndOver50.com, which are both geared toward individuals over age 50, MatureSinglesOnly.com, targeted toward those over age 40, and EliteSingles.com, targeted toward professionals over age 30.
In addition to more general sites like Dating.com, there are niche dating sites in the ranking, including ChristianMingle.com, which is what it sounds like, and BBPeopleMeet.com, which caters to the “big, beautiful” community.
There are two advertisers in the top 20 ranking that offer to help men in the U.S. meet women in other countries—VictoriaBrides.com and AsianDate.com.
SeekingArrangement.com offers to connect young women with wealthy older men and advertises itself as the “Official Sugar Daddy Dating Site”.
AdultFriendFinder.com and its site Passion.com appear to both be focused more on casual encounters between adults, while AshleyMadison.com (which made headlines in 2015 for the hacking of its users’ personal information) helps connect people for extramarital affairs.
Lastly, breaking the mold completely is SouthJerseyMatchmakers.com, which is a New Jersey-based traditional matchmaking service as opposed to an online dating site.
High Competition on Top Keywords
We found particularly high competition on the terms comprising our top 20 ranking, which includes a mix of general keywords such as ‘dating sites’ and branded keywords such as ‘match’ and ‘eharmony’. On average, there were 179 advertisers sponsoring each of the top 20 non-branded keywords during the period, while there was an average of 31 advertisers sponsoring the branded terms, indicating a high level of cross-bidding on competitors’ brand names.