One of our fave services is UK based flirting/dating converged service Flirtomatic. Users can access the service either via PC or mobile phone. Its less than 2 years old and is achieving all kinds of milestones and innovations in the flirting and dating area of digital communities. Flirtomatic's CEO Mark Curtis, a good friend of ours, was discussing Flirtomatic's latest innovations and statistics over at the Forum Oxford expert panel on the future of mobile. When I heard what all they're doing now, I knew I had to post about Flirtomatic also here at our blog.
Recently they introduced virtual gifts at Flirtomatic. This is the same community service principle we've seen already as wildly successful at Habbo Hotel, Cyworld, Kart Rider etc. Where you give small digital ways to customize your avatar or room, and those then are charged at small rates, typically in the 10-50 cent range per item. And these are often in a local virtual currency inside the game or virtual world, like the Acorns inside Cyworld. At Flirtomatic the users buy Flirtpoints which can then be used for example for these gifts.
What are these virtual gifts? At one end its the pretty traditional single red rose, I want to just show my affection in a small way, bring a bit of cheer to my mate, give her (or him) a rose. Costs something like 30 pence in the UK (45 Euro cents, 60 US cents). Its much cheaper than a real rose, the effect nearly as good, and obviously you can deliver these roses without being in the physical presence of the person you're flirting with, so the opportunities arise often to give out the roses...
But there are plenty more, from chocolates to lingerie... Lingerie? Yes, there is actually the ability to give the gift of "twirling the nickers" (underwear) in your hand, while greeting your friend. So obviously this is the cyberspace equivalent of the wife greeting the husband coming home from work, totally naked... Twirling the nickers... Pretty clever.
But now there is more. Flirtomatic has introduced member advertising. And what a concept. Its an auction based top listing very similar to Google Ad Words. You bid on how much you'd offer to have your ad on the top, and those who bid the most are in descending order on the top of the welcoming page. The top bidder apparently bid 50 UKP (75 Euro/100 USD) for their ad to be on top of the first ad auction at Flirtomatic ! Wow, this is quite a radical innovation.
Who said you can't copy Google in the digital community space. Obviously you can. Here is a perfect example. Probably anything in one digital area can be adapted to another one. And like we've been saying in the book and on this blog, any digital service needs to be turned into a COMMUNITY service. Bring in your passionate fans and customers and users into a community with you, and then watch them enjoy the digital world even more.
Oh, and one totally bewildering tidbit. The usage levels. I don't have Flirtomatic subscriber numbers obviously, but hey, a dating/flirting service that is less than 2 years old in the UK? The numbers have to be modest., We're not talking millions of users (yet). But the users are VERY INTENSELY active. How active? In March Flirtomatic served 44 million page views ! Notice that the UK has a population of 60 million. Flirtomatic is nearing one flirt page view per UK citizen per month on an average (obviously a tiny amount does the flirting at huge usage). This is very serious data traffic for one provider... And like we've discussed earlier at this blogsite, Flirtomatic early on found that its mobile users generate more page views than the online PC based customers.
Brilliant concepts, Mark. My greatest congratulations and admirations to your development team. The gifts are a great idea, these ads via auction are even better. Brilliant. Keep up the great work.