Data Analysis Data analysis for this study consisted of a qualitative content analysis of both verbal and visual content from the selected websites. With the advent of the internet, new methods for conducting audience research have emerged. Yet, in taking this approach, these sites often deployed fairly shallow appeals to their audiences, relying primarily on standardized layouts with easily substitutable text and visuals designed to signal in-group identity. They also reveal some of the specific techniques these niche services use to achieve the illusion of specialization. They also vowed to erase this data after 18 months if the AskEraser option is not set. Search engine shut-down[ edit ] In , Ask. Instead, they are carefully crafted by the media industries in an effort to advance their own goals and objectives. Yet, looking at either of these sites in isolation, visitors are less apt to realize that what they are reading is actually a standardized appeal used across a variety of audiences. 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.
As mentioned earlier, my analysis focused primarily on the invitational elements of these sites, including the homepage and any other sections designed to introduce the site to users and describe its nature and purpose. On July 2, , Ask. In early versions, it was often unintentionally installed during the installation of partner software, including Oracle Java , i. During the abstraction process, some of these categories e. In other words, media audiences are not naturally occurring collectives. As Online Dating Magazine publisher Joe Tracy points out, focusing on a specific niche might, in a way, actually reduce the level of competition: While commercialized methods of dating and matchmaking did exist prior to the rise of online dating [ 8 ], they have never operated on such a grand scale. This kind of research requires significant investments in time, money, and energy; nonetheless, media companies are willing to invest in these activities because they can later sell access to these carefully researched audiences to advertisers who hope to convert them into future consumers. By invitational elements, I am referring to the aspects of a dating website that are used to a invite prospective members to register for the service and b welcome existing members back to the site. The character was based on Bertie Wooster 's valet Jeeves , in the fictional works of P. Strategies for Consumer Targeting The practice of breaking up mass audiences into smaller, more distinct groups has become increasingly common not only in the online dating realm but across the full media landscape. During the open-coding process, I engaged in an exploratory overview of each site. Instead, they are carefully crafted by the media industries in an effort to advance their own goals and objectives. Research Design Primary data for this study were collected from these two sets of websites in October of , with a special emphasis on the invitational elements of these sites. If users are selecting and investing in niche dating sites with the expectation that these services are better able to meet their specific relationship needs, one could argue that evidence of pseudo-individualization on these sites is, in a way, also proof of false advertising. Over the years, media companies have refined this approach from looking at broad demographic divisions to a more nuanced emphasis on segmentation by lifestyle categories, taking into account an array of cultural and psychological factors [ 13 , 21 ]. Once this stage was completed, I then identified a variety of categories based on my observations and attempted to group the data based on their relationship to these categories. This study seeks to bring to light any such deceptive practices. Given the current advertising and media landscape, online dating companies must contend with a growing cultural expectation for targeted goods and services. In particular, I used my account access to analyze the profile structure of each site, as most online dating activity revolves around these profiles. Even so, the move toward specialized online dating services is a product of more than just audience growth. Examples of categories that emerged during this stage included the target age group, default gender, available matching options i. 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. The inductive approach consists of three basic stages—open coding, category creation, and abstraction [ 32 ]. For this reason, people in this age range may be especially responsive to targeted appeals, making these tactics of audience construction all the more important. According to station personnel, this strategy was implemented as a way to minimize the employee workload and to avoid alienating listeners. In the end, these procedures were used in order to identify emergent themes based on recurrent patterns that appeared across sites.
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