Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Online Dating Trends 2012

The spring had blossom here in South America. Birds are singing, the flowers open their petals exhaling sweet fragrance.

A little birdie had come to my window and said:
"Fernando, the industry is moving to mobile, location-based matching, improved algorithms, behavioural matching, friends-matching-friends, more robust profiles and many other innovations."
I replied:
Mobile is evolving: Tablets (iPads) with wi fi or broadbands modems, netbooks with wi fi or broadbands modems, not only smartphones.
Location based, friends-matching-friends are only for fun, not serious dating.
Behavioural matching: complete waste of time, because behavioural matching can not outperform personality matching methods.

ONLY ONE ROAD TO ACHIEVE INNOVATIONS  The Online Dating Industry needs Innovations, but the innovations the Online Dating Industry needs will come from only one source: the latest discoveries in theories of romantic relationships development with commitment. Only 3 major discoveries can help to revolutionize the online dating industry.
I) Several studies showing contraceptive pills users make different mate choices, on average, compared to non-users. "Only short-term but not long-term partner preferences tend to vary with the menstrual cycle"
II) People often report partner preferences that are not compatible with their choices in real life. (FORGET Behavioural recommender systems  or other system that learns your preferences)
III) What is important in attracting people to one another may not be important in making couples happy. Compatibility is all about a high level on personality similarity between prospective mates for long term mating with commitment.

That little birdie also said: "The people at Match are doing lots of interesting things, same at eHarmony. They will have something similar in results to your mythical system in place soon enough."
I replied: Ha, ha, ha. Great. During 2012 I will challenge them to offer Compatibility Distribution Curves for each and every dater, i.e. how compatible you are with the rest of the daters.
(I was alerted in advance about Match planning to offer the 16PF5 test, other birdie had told me last May)

The birdie: "People still need to go on a lot of dates, it is a numbers game after all. Matching improvements are great for a first pass, but people still need to get out there and meet each other. NO system can replace that, yours just cuts down on initial blatant false positives. That's great, but there are multiple ways to achieve that objective."
I agree. Online Dating for serious daters does not need to be more social, it needs to be more effective/efficient. It needs to reduce the false positives problem. But there is only one way.

The birdie: "Why not broaden your writing to be more meta, addressing different matching systems, behavioural systems, video interviews with the key players, a competitive matrix that is easy to comprehend. Perhaps credit card spending habits will prove to be 1,000X more effective at matching people. Hell they are starting to do that today. I'll query a petabyte dataset about people's buying habits to find my mate a lot faster than taking a personality test. "
I replied: That is not possible, it seems you never understood the DISTORTION problem.

The birdie: "You are promoting a licensed test, and everyone else is trying to piece together lots of different signifiers and systems that can be used to refine the matching system. "
I replied: WorldWide, there are over 5,000 online dating sites but no one is using the 16PF5 (or similar test) to assess personality of its members.
Without offering the NORMATIVE16PF5 (or similar test measuring exactly the 16 personality factors) for serious dating, it will be impossible to innovate and revolutionize the Online Dating Industry.

The birdie: "You should refocus your energy on mining Facebook data to create composite grouping of people instead of on the fly real-time generated results. Dating sites suck at pulling in Facebook data, which is 100x more useful than most of the testing questions. And the the don't do anything with the data."
I replied: No, personality profiling is the right way to go for serious dating. Personality Based Recommender Systems are the next generation of recommender systems because they perform FAR better than Behavioural ones (past actions and pattern of personal preferences)
That is the only way to improve recommender systems, to include the personality traits of their users.

The birdie: "I will rock this discussion all night. Go big or go home is my mantra with you."
I replied: Ha, ha, ha, I can resist until 2020 saying the same since 2001. Last August, LIFEPROJECT METHOD was a 10+ years old project. Over 10 years trying to launch my project. Match, eHarmony, PerfectMatch and others I had contacted during 2002, 2003, rejected it.

The birdie: "And still, years later, there is no proof that your system will work. Which is why you have a credibility problem."
I replied: All the new & fresh research shows STRICT personality similarity as the right road to go.

The birdie: "Start a small site, gather your results, write a blog and a whitepaper and a book and boom you have done your part to get everyone's attention."
I replied: It seems you do not understand I have no money to do that, I need to get funded. The license of the 16PF5 is over USD 2 million for 100,000 test takers (daters). A similar proprietary test, but assessing the same 16 variables as the 16PF5, will cost USD 100,000 per language and norm.

The birdie: "Look at Dr. Helen Fisher. That's exactly what she did with Chemistry. She is a credible academic with the data to back her findings up. She doesn't promote various flavors of technology, she talks about results and what she's learned along the way and this data is infused in the Chemistry matching system."
I replied: She was backed by the people of Match, but she failed with her theory.

The birdie: "Chemistry could be a USD 20Million/year company, which I would consider successful; but bottom line, Match, OkCupid, eHarmony and most other sites aren't very effective at finding dates. And Match is fine with that. They are working of global scalable infrastructure upgrades and acquiring competitors. They are in the Online Dating Industry for the money, matching systems aren't a top priority since they can churn through thousands of people at USD20/month and the singles keep coming back again and again."
I replied: Yes, the biggest scammers are not from Ghana or Nigeria. They are Match, eHarmony, Chemistry, PerfectMatch and others, very comfortable attracting, converting and retaining subscribers with automatic renewal of their subscriptions and other credit-card billing trickery, than offering a good compatibility matching method.  They really do not want to innovate.
There are over 100 million singles in USA and Canada and over 100 million singles in Europe. WorldWide there are more than 5,000 online dating sites but they have less than 5 million persons as paid members. The Online Dating Market remains enormous!
If they can not or not want to innovate any more, they should die peacefully and leave room for new opportunities.

  • Lawyers: Since some years ago I had been secretly assisting lawyers who sue online dating sites for fake/inactive profiles, sending them screenshots and other valuable information. I will continue and incentivate them during 2012.
  • Consumers' Associations: Since some years ago I had been secretly denouncing several online dating sites for fraud at several Consumers' Associations worlwide. I will continue.
  • Journalists: I continually contact the writers / journalists who write articles in several newspapers/magazines sending them my point of view, saying why the entire Online Dating Industry for serious daters in 1st World Countries is a HOAX, performing as a Big Online Casino, with a low effectiveness/efficiency level of their matching algorithms (less than 10%).

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