Google Romance: Beyond All Fools’ Day

On All Fools’ Day, Google [GOOG] announced, as a joke, work on its Google Romance online matchmaker service. Isn’t the company serious about opportunities the ‘contextual dating‘ service presents?

What would attract users to migrate from Yahoo! Personals or Match.com or the other dating websites? The search technology used to match profiles is probably mature: profiles are searched by matching well-defined fields and by searching profile descriptions. Google could supplement this matching mechanism by incorporating tags or by allowing users to rank or provide feedback on profiles they view based on whatever criteria.

Building a large user base will be critical. Three of my colleagues consider the $25-$35 monthly fees they pay for the above services an overcharge. A free service or low fees can attract a significant user base to Google Romance. The popularity of the search engine, any unique features, and clever marketing (allowing users join by invitation only, as with Gmail) can help too.

Clearly, Google Romance presents an enhanced opportunity for Google’s AdSense program. With personal details of a user and profiles of potential partners a user is looking at, it could target more specific, more meaningful ads based on age, gender, diet preferences, likes, location, etc. Further, the service could easily be integrated with Talk, Gmail, maps, local search, etc. and keep users engaged within the Google grid of services.

It is hard to imagine Google not being serious about this potential revenue stream.

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