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That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both "shop" for potential relationship partners and "sell" themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.

Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.Others utilize the freemium revenue model, offering free registration and use, with optional, paid, premium services.Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.Over 50% of research participants in a 2011 study did not view online dating as a dangerous activity, whereas 43% thought that online dating involved risk.

Because online dating takes place in virtual space, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified.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.Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables people to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices.Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.