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MANDY GINSBERG MATCH.COM
MATCH.COM IS HOOKING
UP BY GOING IT ALONE
Marketing head Ginsberg bypassed agency,
made ‘reality’ spots to connect with singles
■ BY KUNUR PATEL firstname.lastname@example.org
IN A WORLD with arguably countless
opportunities online to “meet” people—as well as feel-good ads that tell
the storybook tales of found love—
where does a traditional dating site fit
in and stand out? Finding that sweet
spot amid the Facebooks and
eHarmonys is the task of Mandy
Ginsberg, exec VP-general manager of
Match.com, and she’s relying on the
stark reality of actual dates—and, for
the first time, no agency—to get it
done. And so far, it’s paying dividends:
Match.com, an IAC company, has seen
meteoric growth in the last quarter in
both revenue and new subscribers. Late
last week Match.com CEO Greg Blatt
was named CEO of IAC.
By the end of the year, it will have
dropped 100 different commercials in its
latest campaign, launched in May. And
all those spots have been shot, produced
1. Don’t be afraid to
2. Trust your gut (if
you have good
anyone who says,
“this is how it is
What’s the benefit to potential users
of Match of showing real people?
Our biggest competitor features people
who have met and married and share
their testimonials about how happy
they are and how in love they are [in
ads]. But that seems a very long way
out for the consumer. The consumer
insight is that, particularly for people
who are divorced or don’t have social
circles where they can meet a lot of
people, meeting someone great is not
that far away. If we can just show the
experience, more people will think the
bar has been lowered.
4. It’s all about the
and perfect can
be just one line,
How did you end up without an agency?
We were in an RFP process and we had
this idea. We had this vision about the
campaign, and when we started talking
directly with the production company,
we decided to try this out with one date.
When you work with an agency, you
work with many different vendors. With
Picture Shack, it was a one-stop shop.
We used directors [our contact has]
worked with and then everything was
done in the production shop form pre-production all the way through to editing. We have the same team touch every
piece of the entire campaign; I think it’s
pretty unheard of in the industry.
If consumers change so quickly and
fundamentally on the internet, agency
roles are changing too. That’s why
we’re working with a small team of
people who can own this with us.
5. Always put
yourself in the
shoes of your
do they want?
And how do they
think and feel?
and edited without a creative agency.
The latest campaign features real Match
users on real dates, filmed with reality-TV production company Picture Shack.
This no-entertainment-agency strategy has meant many late nights and
weekend calls for Ms. Ginsberg, who
heads marketing strategy for the site’s
North American operations, but it’s also
been fruitful: Match.com increased paid
subscribers 30% year-over-year during
the third quarter and increased profit by
The reality-TV-style campaign
came a year after Match split with
Hanft, Raboy and Partners—ending a
six-year relationship—and selected
Campbell Ewald, who launched “The
Beginning” campaign, the predecessor
to this current effort. But then the idea
to film real dates with Picture Shack
came up and Campbell’s role became
preconceptions in the marketplace
were you dealing with?
Match is a big place, but to humanize it,
we showed all the great people you can
meet. But we took a step back at the end
of 2009 to really focus on the value
proposition. At the end of the day, we
really want to get people to meet, to
have email communications, to go on
dates. We wanted to focus on the beginning of those relationships. What we
were trying to encapsulate was the journey, not the destination, and show that
success on Match is going out on a great
date that will end up in a relationship
How did this new creative strategy
affect your media strategy?
Even if you look at some big brands
that run two or three campaigns at a
time like Geico, I never have had any
colleagues talk about the sheer number of spots [we see in this campaign].
They always talk about burnout,
where you have a certain amount of
time to run a certain number of spots.
For us, what’s been a big shift is putting the sheer number of spots in the
market and part of that is to reflect this
pulse of so many dates happening at
any given moment. I talk to friends [in
marketing] and they think it’s crazy.
They say, “How can you afford it?”
Has the approach put more on you?
It has. To be honest, I don’t think we
realized how much work it would be
without an agency. We’ve definitely
been looking opportunistically for
agencies to work on different initiatives, but so much of our business is
about advertising and the perceptions
in the marketplace, we really had to be
close to it. The agency-company relationships are changing. If consumers
change so quickly and fundamentally
on the internet, especially [as they
have] in the last 12 to 24 months,
agency roles are changing, too. That’s
why we’re working with a small team
of innovative people who can jump in
and roll up their sleeves and own this
with us, vs. hiring large agencies.
How was the whole 100-spot, no-agency approach received internally?
At the beginning of 2010, I never imagined we would be producing almost 100
spots this year! But Greg [Blatt, former
Match CEO and now CEO of IAC] and
I had a vision which was to demonstrate Match’s value—meeting new
people and going out on great dates.
Once we saw the charming moments,
we realized we had something special.
How did that play out?
The first campaign launched at the end
of 2009: “The Beginning” campaign,
which really got to the beginning
hopefulness of relationships. People
How can you afford it?
This all happened with the same production budget, because of the way
we’re shooting and the way we’re
working without an ad agency.
For more in-depth
marketers, go to
What keeps you up at night?
There are more than 92 million singles
in the U.S. and yet only a small percentage use an online dating site. Part
of our job is to let people know it is a
great way to meet new people and continue to break down the stigma.