Monday, April 30, 2012

The curious marketing of online dating.

       I'm still pondering "Love, Lies, and What They Learned" in The New York Times. The article was about online dating. When I give an advertising assignment to my students to promote a dating site, all of a sudden they're stumped. Maybe I'm hitting too close to home.

       The Times piece discussed how social scientists are studying the sites to learn about attraction, trust, and deception.

        Dr. Gerald A. Mendelsohn of University of California/Berkeley is quoted as saying there's very little data on dating. But the major online dating sites had 593 million visits last October alone, so yes, it's a big deal. According to a Stanford study, 21% of heterosexual couples and 61% of same-sex couples met online.

         Here are some of the things that have been learned. About 81% of people misrepresent their height, weight, or age. On the good side, most of the lies are small, because they may meet in person. Women said they were 8.5 pounds thinner. Men, two pounds, but they lied more about their height. People fibbed less about their age, but women's photos were on average a year and a half old. Men's, six months.

         Getting down to the nitty gritty, women want men who are tall and wealthy, and slightly overweight. Men prefer women who are slightly underweight.

         So if you were the marketing director of or, what would your ads promise? Is honesty the best policy? I personally think so.

         That's the challenge. Another example of where psychology and sociology come into play, and where you want to do a lot of thinking and some research before you write the commercials. Are you marketing dating, or something deeper and more consequential?

         And how good are you at Photoshop?


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