Match.com Targets Men, Plans Ad Spending Boost

Dating site Match.com is taking its message to males, with a major
Valentine’s Day advertising effort that it says marks the beginning of a new
brand marketing push.

The highlight of the campaign, which is running on MarketWatch.com,
is a one-day-only full-screen Flash ad that appears when
Web surfers first visit the site.

The Flash ad shows a picture of a bartender, with the copy: “He’s
attentive. He laughs at your jokes. He’s been your valentine for the past
five years. Get a love life you can brag about.”

Once the MarketWatch.com site loads, Match.com ads also appear on the
home page’s banner and skyscraper space. The skyscraper execution allows
users to specify their sought-after mate’s gender, age, and to click to a
Match.com page with personal ads that meet those specifications.

Unlike most of Dallas, Texas-based Match.com’s brand advertising, the
creative and placement on MarketWatch is intended chiefly to woo males.

“It’s bit of a departure for us,” said Match.com president Tim Sullivan.
“Most of the branding advertising for us has been targeted toward females.
Our television ad campaigns have been targeted to women … [But] The
opportunity for a branding message on MarketWatch triggered the creation of
this spot.”

Sullivan said that Match.com has run banner ads geared to both men and
women in the past, but the new campaign represents “a great opportunity to
reach out to males … more than the kind of simplistic reaching out to
males with online advertising that we’ve traditionally done. It’s like a
nine-second television spot that demands and commands folks’ attention the
first thing when they log into MarketWatch on Valentine’s Day.”

The campaign is the first time that Match.com has used either an
introductory rich media spot or a one-day execution — both of which are
rarities in the online advertising world. (Studies conducted by
PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, for instance,
have found that rich media comprises only about 2 percent of online
creative.)

“This is potentially a very interesting direction for us, and for online
advertising in general,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan declined to say how much Match.com spent on the Valentine’s Day
effort, but described it as “a sizable chunk, for a one-day thing.”

“But the great thing about our advertising is that it works, and it pays
for itself,” he said. “So [the MarketWatch buy] is a great investment.”

Match.com, which is owned by TicketMaster-Citysearch,
is also running several other Valentine’s Day-themed promotions in
conjunction with its parent. In Miami and San Francisco, for instance, the
site used surveys to create local dating guides.

The work marks a stepping-up of Match.com’s overall brand advertising and
awareness efforts, Sullivan said.

In addition to a women-focused television campaign currently airing,
Match.com said it intends to increase its online advertising as well, with
Sullivan saying the $10 million it currently has earmarked for each medium
is “a minimum number.”

“Our success last year … has encouraged us to seek to build a brand
this year,” he said. “Last year was … much more focused on establishing
and growing our major distribution partnerships, with AOL, MSN and
iVillage.”

“We’re continuing that, but … we want to introduce the category to
everyone in America,” Sullivan added. “It will be a big year for us in terms
of really expanding our marketing dollars and efforts.”

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