MDW INTERVIEW -- May 5, 2007 -- Plutolife loves mobile dating (MobiloveTM) and is the company behind several well known mobile dating services. Beyond that it also offers speed dating (Mobiflirt) and a picture dating product (Mobimodels). - Mark Brooks
How much can dating companies make with mobile dating?
Pay-outs vary a lot depending on the country, regulations and the operator pay outs. In North America and Europe we get 15 to 33 Euros of average revenue per user (ARPU), generated over the course of 3 to 4 months average user lifetime. The carriers take a cut of 40% to 70%. Carrier cuts in Europe are less aggressive than in America. The ARPU also depends on the country. Some countries have very strict regulations on the way you can price and bill customers while most leave it to us.
What factors should dating companies consider in their selection of mobile dating enabler?
The experience and commitment of the mobile dating company is most important. The experience because there are lots of hurdles and regulations that can knock you over in different countries. Look at the international track record of the partner. Plutolife has rolled out mobile community services in 22 countries. And that’s something that is not easy to do because you’re talking multiple languages, different cultures and a wide range of technical capability. Your mobile dating partner needs to know how to deal with multiple networks per country and multiple billing systems per country. The last thing, and tough thing is understanding the cultural differences because you want to run the most efficient marketing campaign in every country.
What branding and advertising strategies have been successful in the past for you?
Having a strong online brand will make it relatively easy to convince mobile operators to provide a good position on their mobile Internet pages. However, “off deck,” activity is becoming increasingly important and lucrative. We create many simplified WAP versions of a web portal specific to mobile community installations. For advertising, you’re TV and radio on youth oriented TV stations. You’re talking web advertising, Google ads, banners, other search engines, etc. What is on the decrease, we’ve noticed, is the “quick print ad.” The return of these kinds of investments is going down. Consumers are now looking for new types of marketing stimulation.
Also, there are a range of advertising opportunities specific to each country in Europe. For instance, in most Scandinavian countries Teletext is usually efficient. If you know how to play with it, it’s one of the most profitable advertising investments you can make. In Ireland and the UK, I didn’t believe teletext would be as good as in Scandinavia but it looks like it is. In Southern Europe teletext doesn’t really fly but other media like print seems to be more efficient than in Northern Europe. We have tried radio and TV focused on local markets, if possible, or focused on youth markets. MTV is a good example. We have bought several thousand spots on MTV in Scandinavia, Norway and Sweden and it works nicely.
Do you have any market numbers you can share for any of your markets?
We have a very strong position in Norway, for instance with a thriving mobile dating activity. I just looked at the stats this morning again. In Norway we have a base of 300,000 registered users. That’s out of a population of 4.2 million. Not all are active, of course. We have over 1 million users total worldwide including the USA.
What makes Scandinavia such a hotbed for you?
Norway and Sweden are dream markets because the mobile industry is open. Mobile operators are “copeting.” They’re not restricting competition or putting up mobile “walled gardens.” They are not creating artificial walls but allowing each other’s customers to subscribe to content where they want to; as a result they’ve created quite an amazing mobile content market. It’s equal to 900 million krones just for Norway, so let me do the division, you want it in dollars? You’re talking $150 million dollars (i.e. $35 mobile content spend per year per subscriber). We were the first to offer mobile dating here and we are the leader but we’re not alone anymore, we have a few competitors, but that’s good because, in fact, it helps develop the market. We have got a better position then the competitors because we convince the main operators here that we are a thriving community, so we move up on their mobile Internet (WAP) pages.
What will you and Plutolife do in the next year to rock the world of mobile dating in Europe and USA?
One thing, we plan on doing is integration. Handsets are getting more and more advanced, so they can be a natural extension of online communities, whether it’s dating or chatting or blogging, we’ll be there. We’ll do it over multiple handset technologies (e.g. SMS, mobile Internet and Java) because we need to be able to address the whole mobile market. You can’t confine yourself to only having a java solution, if only 10-15% of mobile owners will use a java download. We guide them little by little through the different technologies and let them pick the best one for them.
What technology are you most excited about for the future?
I dream of the day when there is so much technology embedded in the mobile phone that you can use it almost as if you were on your laptop. I think we’re going to go that way. I think people who are major online players, whether they are dating players or community players, like MSN or Yahoo or MySpace are going to push for that and that’s going to have a very healthy effect on the whole industry. This reminds me of the days when we went from narrow band to broadband on the Internet and suddenly there was a second burst of the Internet because all kinds of new usage exploded. Sharing video is now hot on the Internet and nobody dreamed about that 4 or 5 years ago. It’s possible because of the broadband explosion. The same with mobile, high speeds and third generation and fourth generation speeds and more powerful handsets will enable more and more video sharing. Right now it’s a little bit like wishful thinking, but it will happen.
This interview also appears on Mobile Dating Watch