They also highlight some of the unique aspects of online media that facilitate this practice.Implications for both online daters and site producers are discussed. From Veggie for vegetarians to Date for redheads, online dating companies are setting their sights on increasingly specific segments of the population with niche websites that profess to facilitate romantic connections based on shared user characteristics.To date, online dating research has focused primarily on mainstream dating sites (see [3,4] for examples), leaving niche services largely overlooked.This project hones in on one niche dating market in particular—the increasingly popular “older adult” market—in an effort to more closely examine the process of audience construction and niche targeting in the online dating industry.She describes the media audience as “an imaginary entity, an abstraction constructed from the vantage point of institutions, in the interest of institutions” (, p. In other words, media audiences are not naturally occurring collectives.Instead, they are carefully crafted by the media industries in an effort to advance their own goals and objectives.Describing this transition, Susan Carpenter of the states, “There just wasn’t a market for most niches until online dating as a whole had reached a critical mass of users and acceptability, and that’s only happened within the last few years” .
Through a qualitative content analysis and close reading of older-adult dating sites, I seek to determine how and to what extent online dating sites that target older adults actually customize their services to benefit this population.
According to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than one-third of internet users who are single and seeking romantic partnership have used an online dating website or app .
In keeping with this ever-expanding audience size, the online dating industry is now following the trajectory of most other mass media industries before it by moving from a standardized “broadcast” model, in which attempts to differentiate among users are minimal, to the more specialized narrowcasting approach of niche targeting.
In many cases, industry leaders are driven less by the desire to meet the needs of their target audiences and more by the incentive to translate those needs into a financial profit.
With this in mind, it is important to investigate how industry executives construct audiences in the online dating arena and what implications their strategies might have on the growing number of people joining these sites.
From a user’s perspective, there are a number of added conveniences associated with the rise of the niche online dating market.