In a move that brings online dating full-circle, Match.com is launching a new service that will use its matching algorithms to fill offline events with compatible singles.
Within the next year, the company plans to host 2,000 to 3,000 events across 40 markets. The service will be named “The Stir.”
“We expect to send half a million people to events this year,” Match.com President Mandy Ginsberg tells Mashable. “I think we’ll be the biggest global events company in the world, with the exception of maybe the Olympics.”
Match will host two types of events: casual happy hours that paid subscribers can attend for free and more-involved excursions such as cooking classes or bowling nights that cost extra. The catch is that not everyone gets invited to every event. Rather, Match targets invitations based on age, gender balance and who — based on its algorithms — it thinks will hit it off.
While startup dating sites such as HowAboutWe and Grouper have carved niches within online dating by instigating interesting offline experiences, Match has until now focused more heavily on its matching algorithms, which are based on data collected throughout its 17 years of business.
A study published in February, however, questioned the effectiveness of such matchmaking algorithms, suggesting they were no more effective at predicting successful couples than meeting in person.
“Our review of the literature reveals that aspects of relationships that emerge only after two people meet and get to know each other — things like communication patterns, problem-solving tendencies and sexual compatibility — are crucial for predicting the success or failure of relationships,” wrote two of the study’s authors, Eli Finkel and Benjamin Karney, in the New York Times.
Match.com VP of Strategy and Analytics Amarnath Thombre says Match.com has never promised compatibility, but rather sets up people who are likely to hit it off based on what has worked on the past. Assessing chemistry is up to them. The Stir is set up the same way, but Match provides a venue in which singles can take the step of meeting in person.
“It’s not this weird pressure of going to a coffee date and sitting across from somebody,” Ginsberg says.
With 1.8 million subscribers as of February, Match can scale an offline singles event service in a way that most companies cannot. The company, which is owned by IAC, brought in $ 108.9 million of revenue during Q12′s first financial quarter.
The move could also help expand Match.com’s mobile presence. At The Stir’s 60 pilot events, for instance, subscribers checked-in at a bar to receive a promotion.
“We’re really going to build on top of that,” Ginsberg says. “There’s in-event interactions and post-event interactions. There’s just a lot of opportunity.”
More About: Match, online dating, the stir
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