If you’ve ever joined a paid for site or even interacted with one in anyway, you will instantly recognise this problem, and this is just the start of the problems.
As you can see from the flow chart, the only way they don’t make money is to show subscribers to other subscribers. It’s the worst thing they can do for their business, because there’s no potential for new profit growth there. Remember: the average account length is just six months, and people join for big blocks of time at once, so getting a new customer on board is better for them than eking another month or two out of a current subscriber. To get sign-ups, they need to pull in new people, and they do this by getting you to message their prospects.
If you’re a subscriber to a pay dating site, you are an important (though unwitting) part of that site’s customer acquisition team. Of course, they don’t want to show you too many ghosts, because you’ll get frustrated and quit, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re relying on you your messages are their marketing materials to reach out to non-payers and convince them, by way of your charming, heartfelt messages, to pull out their credit cards. If only a tiny fraction of your message gets a response, hey, that’s okay, you’re working for free. Wait a second…you’re paying them.
There is a nasty speed dating service which I used once, which adds its results to a paid for dating service. Luckily everyone who was at the event could message each other if they both gave each other ticks in the speed dating section but you would also get loads of messages from people who were paid for members, so you couldn’t read the actual message. Of course most of the actual messages would be from spammers. Weirdly, I’ve gotten more spam from the paid for services that the free one. Maybe another investigation for OKTrends?