Yesterday saw the ﬁrst broadcast of the new JustSingles.com television commercial. I wanted to share my thoughts on the opportunity this will give our partners and the online dating industry generally.
Firstly, as the largest white label dating platform in the world, we’re always sensitive with how we market our own-brand (what we call “B2C” sites) and the extent to which we market them.
Why run own-brand B2C sites?
Having a B2C division enables us to try new, unproven marketing channels that our partners may be reticent to try. It means we’re putting our own money on the line, risking money much like our partners do (rather than being a pure white label business, with no company money being risked on marketing sites).
Everything we learn about marketing sources, techniques, landing pages and brand positioning can then be shared exclusively with our partners, enabling them to learn from how our B2C campaigns perform.
On the other hand, we need to manage the risk of competing directly with partners, which would mean their marketing expenditure would not be optimised (which in turn means they wouldn’t get the best return from the investment, limiting their growth potential and ability to reinvest).
More often than not though, I believe that maintaining a small amount of B2C revenue – which means shareholders are putting their money where their mouth is (and in our case, spending a signiﬁcant amount of money each month) – keeps us razor focused on the performance of the application as we’ve got so much to lose. We share the pain of our partners (unlike other white label platforms who don’t risk their own capital in marketing own-brand sites).
The real competition our partners face when acquiring members is not from other partner sites – or our B2C sites – or even other dating sites. The real competition is consumer lethargy – perceptions about online dating, preconceived views about established dating brands, and a lack of conviction that online dating will make their lives happier.
We’re also competing with other internet brands that want the viewer to take action online.
So why are we spending half a million pounds on a national TV advertising campaign?
Fundamentally we believe the greatest hurdle facing our partners’ site performance is a negative public perception of online dating and a lack of trust.
Last year we launched OnlineDatingProtector.com to reassure our members, clearly articulating the steps we take to keep them safe on our sites. But we know that more is needed, and the fact is that consumers trust television advertising more than online-only.
We wanted to see whether TV advertising is a good channel for acquiring members. Some partners have already had success using television advertising, most notably:
PlentyMoreFish.com – PMF initially launched their TV advertising with this campaign, followed by this one. They enjoyed great success with these campaigns and recently introduced their latest campaign featuring PlentyMoreFish Goggles.
Adults.co.uk – This is another successful partner using TV to acquire their members, their ﬁrst campaign (here) started in 2013 and worked so well they decided to run a new campaign in 2014 using a new creative (here).
However, we believe there is much more potential for partners to use mainstream marketing channels to acquire members. Personally, I believe that the more dating sites that advertise on television, the better for everyone in the industry. It mainstreams the category and normalises it for the consumer.
We chose JustSingles.com as the B2C site to run a test campaign on as we felt it offered a truly differentiated service for the consumer compared to established television brands like Match.com, eHarmony.co.uk and Lovestruck.com.
The JustSingles.com site offers “Dating Just for you” – a selection of niche dating sites under a single umbrella brand.
Anyone who has toured our ofﬁces knows how much we invest in customer care and the quality of our team, so it was important that the TV commercial reflected this.
Whilst it’s possible to get a TV advert put together from just a few thousand pounds, we invested signiﬁcantly in the production quality, knowing that larger media buying cost for the advertising would dwarf the production cost. It made sense to create a sophisticated commercial that not only drove viewers to register on the site, but also showed online dating as a high quality product.
Our budget for the production of the JustSingles.com commercial was around £75,000. We used The Picture Production Company to create the commercial. We even asked for volunteers to be extras in the commercial – you’ll spot half a dozen Global Personals staff in the commercial – alas, we didn’t save on costs though!
So what’s next?
Our test campaign will run until the end of March, but we’ll be sharing the early results from the campaign with our top partners at our mid-year partner conference (dates to be announced shortly).
Once we’ve divulged the details to partners, we will also be happy to share what we’ve learnt with the online dating industry. I believe that by encouraging our partners and competitors to invest in quality ofﬂine advertising using traditional media such as Television, Radio and print advertising, we will increase consumer comfort for online dating and the industry will be better off as a result.
I really believe that there is a much greater prize for the industry by working together to grow awareness of the quality of online dating products available and driving consumers online through their computers, tablets or mobile phones to engage with our services.
If you’ve not done so already, please register at JustSingles.com and see what you think of the service. We’ll be working hard over the coming weeks to improve the experience – and with half a million pounds of shareholder funds invested in the campaign, you can be certain I’ll be giving this my personal attention.