With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Hitwise reports that traffic to online dating sites has soared faster than Cupid’s arrow over the past 12 months.

Data from Hitwise reveals that visits to dating sites have increased by 45% since January 2003, with the online dating sector now representing 0.8% of all online visits. Typically, visitors are spending 13 minutes and 18 seconds on a dating site, almost double the time Internet users spend on sites in general (6 minutes and 47 seconds).

The dating market is also becoming increasingly competitive, with almost 200 new dating sites appearing in the Hitwise Dating category since January 2003, an increase of 34%. However, 60% of traffic goes to the top 10 dating sites.

Popular dating services range from sites such as Match.com - which also owns udate.com - and FriendsReunited Dating, through to social networking sites such as Friendster.com and specialist dating sites such as Gaydar – the UK’s top gay dating website.

Henry Badenhorst, Director of Gaydar commented, “In today’s busy world, Gaydar is an essential tool for professionals wanting to meet others with similar interests for everything from friendship to a relationship and we have noticed how the Gaydar site has evolved from purely dating to more of an online community”.

Hitwise research further reveals that Internet dating attracts young urbanites and is fast becoming the choice for young professionals: 32.65% of visitors are aged between 25 and 34, 34% live in London and the South East, whilst 9.11% of visitors to dating sites are ‘Stylish Singles’, typically very well educated people heavily involved in their work.

“The online dating trend shows no sign of abating. Match.com is acquiring more than 60,000 new members each month whose demographic mirrors the Hitwise findings, namely urban, well educated, professional singles with a 24/7 lifestyle”, comments Samantha Bedford, UK MD of Match.com.

Hitwise analysis shows that Stylish Singles are 69% more likely to visit dating sites than the average Internet user.

About Hitwise

Hitwise is the world’s leading provider of online competitive intelligence services. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 450,000 websites across 160 industry categories.

By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights into how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment in efforts such as affiliate programs, search marketing, online advertising, content development and lead generation.

Hitwise collects Internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Founded in 1998, Hitwise is a privately held company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and operates in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.


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Published on: 12:00AM on 9th February 2004