SA’S MAIL AND GUARDIAN JOINS THE RUSH TO OFFER ONLINE DATING SERVICE

Digital Content

South African news site the Mail & Guardian Online has joined the rush to offer online dating services, with the official launch of DatingBuzz on its site. Matthew Buckland, editor of the Mail & Guardian Online, says the site was prompted to introduce the service because of its revenue potential.

"This is a slightly unusual venture for us in that a dating service is not normally associated with our brand, which is known for its in-depth, quality content, but recent overseas trends have shown huge growth in the online dating arena and enormous revenue potential."

Buckland says a recent report from the US-based Online Publishers’ Association found that Internet personals and dating, together with business content and entertainment, accounted for 59% of all online consumer spending in the US for 2001.

Mail & Guardian Online’s DatingBuzz was officially launched on the site this week, after an initial trial run. Users will be able to search the site and create their profiles for free, with an optional nominal fee charged to contact other members.

Late last year, Ananzi.co.za and Independent Online also launched online dating services, with industry analysts describing online dating as one of the few Internet services still making money. Online dating is estimated to have doubled its turnover year-on-year for the past three years.

"We’ve seen a huge rise in the number of people using our online dating services as people’s perceptions have shifted from seeing Œdating agencies’ as only being for the desperate," says DatingBuzz spokesman David Burstein. "Internet dating is a great way to look for friends and partners without the angst and hassles of trying to meet people at pubs and clubs."

DatingBuzz is a Cape Town-based international company that powers the dating services of several local Web sites, including Ananzi Dating, Q-Men, Q-Women and M-Web DatingBuzz. The company says it will also launch a partnership with Media 24 within the next few days.

Burstein says DatingBuzz has six local and three international partners, and has shown phenomenal growth since it was relaunched with a new platform in April. It has a total of around 15 000 active members through the various partnerships.

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