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Most free dating websites depend on advertising revenue, using tools such as Google Ad Sense and affiliate marketing.
Since advertising revenues are modest compared to membership fees, this model requires a large number of page views to achieve profitability.
Introduction sites differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted a large number of users and significant investor interest.
In Eastern Europe, popular sites offer full access to messaging and profiles, but provide additional services for pay, such as prioritizing profile position, removing advertisements, and giving paying users access to a more advanced search engine.
Profiles created by real humans also have the potential to be problematic.
For instance, some profiles may not represent real humans but rather "bait profiles" placed online by site owners to attract new paying members, or "spam profiles" created by advertisers to market services and products.
Niche sites cater to people with special interests, such as sports fans, racing and automotive fans, medical or other professionals, people with political or religious preferences (e.g., Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.), people with medical conditions (e.g., HIV , obese), or those living in rural farm communities.
In 2008, a variation of the online dating model emerged in the form of introduction sites, where members have to search and contact other members, who introduce them to other members whom they deem compatible.
At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38% increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc.
The stigma associated with online dating dropped over the years and people view online dating more positively.