Lycos Offers Dating Site Search Engine To Weary Market
by Gavin O'Malley, Feb 24, 2005, 6:47 AM
Lycos yesterday launched a beta version of a search engine for dating Web sites, which gives users free access to unlimited personal profiles from iMatchup.com, LoveAccess.com, Tickle, True.com, and Lycos' Matchmaker.com.
Tagged Lycos Dating Search, the engine already contains millions of profiles and photos, and the reach will only grow as Lycos partners with other online dating providers, said Curt Degenhart, a Lycos senior product manager.
Lycos, a subsidiary of South Korean Web portal operator Daum Communications Corp., hopes the offering will rev up an online dating market that has seen growth slump in the last year. The online personals industry grew 73 percent in 2002 and 77 percent in 2003, but in 2004 the market only grew by 19 percent, according to a JupiterResearch report released earlier this month.
Traffic to dating sites has also recently declined, according to JupiterResearch.
But Lycos's Degenhart said that site upgrades should make a difference to daters. "We spoke with many customers who experimented with online dating and gave up," Degenhart said. "Now, as the industry improves its models, these customers say they're willing to give it another go."
After a user runs a query, Lycos Dating Search returns portions of the profiles it finds. To read the full profile, users can click on the search result, which takes them to the original dating site. Access to the full text of profiles is available even to non-site-subscribers.
"There's a lot of shopping around with dating sites," said Degenhart. "Now users can browse and search profiles with no registration requirements."
There are no limits to the number of profiles Lycos Dating Search users can view, but relationship seekers will still have to subscribe to a site before reaching out to its database of potential mates. Degenhart said Lycos was interested in doing away with this hurdle for users, but would not go into specifics.
Lycos Dating Search provides a number of features and parameters to frame and narrow searches. Users can search by criteria like favorite books, musicians, movies, hobbies, or sports. Lycos also offers "Favorite Profiles" and "Saved Search" features, allowing users to keep track of their top choices and store search criteria across multiple dating sites.
Lycos plans to sell ads on the dating site, but expects to generate the lion's share of revenue from fees it will charge providers. Specifically, partners will pay up when Lycos dating Search users click through to their sites, and when users sign up for their service, Degenhart said. Current advertisers include VeriSign and The South Beach Diet.
Lycos will promote the site, datingsearch.lycos.com, throughout its network, which includes the Lycos, Hotbot, Wired, Tripod, Angelfire, and Quote.com sites, as well as Lycos Mail, Gamesville, and GetRelevant. It also plans a paid search campaign on Google and Overture, and display ads on non-Lycos sites.
Lycos was acquired by Korean Internet giant Daum Communications in August 2004. The company re-launched a home page focused on search at the end of January, with the reintroduction of Lycos' dog logo and its "Go get it" slogan.