JDate Hawks In Times Square

The battle for affluent singles online intensified Thursday, with MatchNet's launch of an ad campaign on a Times Square billboard promoting the niche personals site JDate.com, devoted to Jewish singles.

MatchNet's move came just two days after Yahoo! debuted its own upgraded personals service, "Personals Premier."

Like Yahoo!'s premier service, JDate costs $34.95 a month. MatchNet's largest online personals site, AmericanSingles, costs between $19.99 a month and $24.95 a month, depending on length of subscription, which is comparable to the $19.95 a month Yahoo! charges for its non-premium dating service.

The JDate ad, a 30-second animated spot, runs once an hour for 18 hours a day on the JumboTron screen above ABC's "Good Morning America" window at 44th Street and Broadway in Times Square. The current initiative--which will run through early December, then again from Dec. 20 until Feb. 11--is the first traditional ad campaign for the site, said company spokesman Jonathan Cutler. JDate is also running a print campaign in New York magazine.

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The campaign, produced in conjunction with Outdoor Television Network and Blink Multimedia, will run only in New York City, where JDate has "a significant member base," said Cutler.

MatchNet's American Singles is the third most popular online dating service, with 6.21 percent of the market, behind Yahoo! Personals, which has 20.94 percent of the market and Match.com, with 7.26 percent, according to research firm Hitwise. MatchNet's JDate was the 20th most popular dating service, according to Hitwise.

Coincidentally, Reuters yesterday released a survey that could encourage other advertisers to turn to billboards. For the study, Reuters, which hawks advertising space on its own Times Square billboard, asked 784 pedestrians in Times Square in September whether billboard ads increased or lessened the odds that they would purchase the product being pitched. About 47 percent said that it somewhat increased that likelihood, and about 15 percent said it definitely upped the marketer's chances.

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