Internet dating is big business
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BOB MOON: When you hear the words, "internet dating conference," you might expect the people who attend to be experts at finding love. Well, in this case, the attendees are experts at finding customers -- as reporter Karen Burkett tells us from WLRN in Miami.
KAREN BURKETT: The online dating industry is a lucrative one. Revenue has been flat in recent years, but the industry still generates over a billion dollars annually in the U.S. Attendees of the iDate 2011 conference included entrepreneurs, programmers, sales reps. These experts are involved in millions of people's love lives.
KAREN BURKETT: What does your company know about the love?
REPRESENTATIVE: What do we know about love? We're behind the scenes. We're a back office solution.
The matches made at this conference are about the business side of Internet dating. A programmer might find that one true investor. If things work out, a company will be launched.
David Evans writes an industry blog called Online Dating Insider.
DAVID EVANS: They will put that site up on the Internet much faster than it took to start one even five or ten years ago.
A number of other companies that have nothing to do with romance were here to woo clients. Iovation is a small firm that provides security for 22 dating websites, blocking identity thieves, spammers and online predators. Royal Caribbean is trying to sell singles' and couples' cruises. Google wants dating websites to advertise with them, and not their main competitor.
EVANS: Well, Google is scared right now because they're seeing a lot of their advertising revenue going over to Facebook.
Paul Carrick Brunson was a conference panelist. With all the talk of deals, he wonders if industry growth is flat because online dating isn't giving customers what their hearts desire.
PAUL CARRICK BRUNSON: I think a challenge that this industry faces is that it is a love industry and I just wonder how many of us are in it for the love and the connection versus the bottom line.
In this industry it seems, there ain't no romance, without finance.
From Miami Beach, I'm Karen Burkett for Marketplace.