MERCURY NEWS -- Apr 9 -- Engage.com (free, 200k members) is founded on the premise that online dating needs to be more like offline dating. Members are encouraged to seek out matchmakers who have volunteered to act as yentas…and invite friends to join and to vouch for them. The site's old-fashioned approach to courtship is one answer to the disappointment reported by online daters. A 2005 JupiterResearch survey found one in three online daters as "somewhat satisfied." Mark Brooks, editor of Onlinepersonalswatch.com and an Internet dating consultant, said Engage addresses one weakness of the most popular dating sites, the ability to involve one's friends in a budding romance. Brooks said the chance of hooking up with a friend of a friend is one of the keys to the success of social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. People can avoid the awkwardness of actually declaring they are single, but don't want to be. "I love what they are doing, but it's going to take them awhile to be successful," Brooks said. Some of Engage's features are specifically designed to turn off would-be "players" who populate other sites. For example, Engage encourages its members to rate one another on "responsiveness," "politeness" and whether a person is "true" to his or her profile. Mike Murrow has been chronicling his online dating misadventures and said Engage's matchmaker process sounded good but required friends who were extremely committed. "My friends have their own lives; they are not going to scan through the profiles." FULL ARTICLE @ MERCURY NEWS
Mark Brooks: I think the industry is doing a better job of setting expectations these days. Online dating takes time. The matchmaking industry is doing well because many people don't want to spend time. They just want dates, and they'll pay for them. There's an opportunity in there somewhere. ;) The clever people at Match are working to meld the yenta and online dating worlds together, but I think it will be a little tougher than they think. I think Match will need to offer a money back guarantee to safeguard their brand, and encourage word-of-mouth, and compete with $3000+ services like Great Expectations, Together Dating/The Right One, and Table For Six.