AskMen was an enormous case of success in the world. The company was created by Ricardo Poupada when he was 23 years old and he was finishing a finance degree from Concordia University in Quebec. The idea to create a website that would help men dating and giving them advices about relationships began in a Coffee Shop in Montreal with other friends from university. AskMen was the largest men’s lifestyle site in the world and was recognized by Time Magazine as a “Top 50 Site”. AskMen was sold to Fox and in 2005 IGN bought it for $17 million. AskMen.com was one of the most viewed websites among young men worldwide and attracted more than 12 million unique visitors a month.
Two partners left AskMen shortly after the acquisition but Poupada stayed on board as vice-president. But in 2014 the Portuguese Canadian left AskMen and decided to focus on virtual reality and 5th Wall Agency was born. Today, some of the agency clients are Universal Studios, Manulife, Twitter, CBRE and Warner Bros.
In an interview with Milénio Stadium, Poupada explained that the market has changed a lot in seven years. “In the late nineties and early 2000s, the web was still fairly new and there wasn’t much competition, so eyeballs came relatively easily. Back in those days, men of my age at that time (between 18 and 34 years) could only find this type of information in a print magazine. So, when we did it was easy to become number 1”, he said.
Roberto was also a contributor to AskMen’s content, and he also interviewed famous people such as David Beckham, Hugh Hefner and Kate Upton. “Today we have a lot of offer, but back at that time we were the only ones online. We created content, videos and we partnered with Facebook, Yahoo and even Emerson from Microsoft and IOL, both of them were huge at that time. Fox wanted AskMen because after they bought MySpace they need it to attract the Millenials generation. These young people weren’t watching TV anymore and they were only online”, he justified.
Today, Poupada admits that advertorials where crucial to the successful AskMen. For those who are not familiar with the term, an advertorial is an article that is designed to look and read like objective journalistic content but is, in fact, a paid advertisement. “We had a rule: advertorials had to be useful, practical and it has to entertain. This works good with a very practical example: a vacuum. It’s not worth it to advertise that the vacuum is the best one in the market because it won’t work. What AskMen did was compare the colour or the size of the product, for example, with the costumer personality. The strategy worked like what happened recently with Ronaldo and Coca Cola at the European Cup. Coca Cola increased the sales a few days after the press conference”, he explained.
Create a profile to online dating it’s not exactly the same as creating a resume. “Some of the people were very aggressive and we explained to them that they needed to talk online as they were on a date in a bar or a restaurant. We would help them to create their profile and during my time in the company we never had an e-mail with a complain”, he underlined.
One of the main critics of online dating platforms is the possibility of our personal information ending in the wrong hands, something that Ricardo guaranteed that didn’t happen in AskMen. “All the personal information was controlled by Match.com. They were a public company and they had stock market, so they had to be very careful with the personal information from their clients. Today some of these companies are outside of North America and they can pay a lot of money to other websites and maybe they don’t have the same level of protection”, he mentioned.
Poupada told us that the income that AskMen would make with online dating back at that time was over $1 million a year. A quick look to the actual AskMen platform shows us a ranking of the best sites and apps to online dating and the criteriums to make the ranking are various. Value for price; quality of members; ease of use; customer satisfaction and safety. Despite Match is not on number 1 ranking anymore, AskMen says they are “arguably the most recognizable name in online dating today and been facilitating dates, relationships, and marriages for the last 25 years”.