Blog readers young and well off: study
By Frank Barnako, MarketWatch
Last Update: 3:00 PM ET Aug 11, 2005
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- New research suggests advertisers may ignore Web logs at their own peril. ComScore Media Metrix researched readership among its study panel of consumers and reported 1 out of 6 Americans read a blog in the first quarter of the year.
Other key findings:
50 million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites.
Of the 400 biggest blogs, blogs focused on news and politics were most popular; followed by "hipster" and lifestyle blogs, tech blogs, and blogs authored by women.
Compared to the average Internet user, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and access the Web via high-speed connection.
Blog readers visit nearly twice as many Web pages as the average Internet user and they are much more likely to shop online. ("Yes, indeed, this proves that blog readers have no lives," commented Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine.com.)
The study was commissioned by Six Apart Inc., the blog software company, and Gawker Media. Jason Calacanis, whose Weblogs Inc. competes with Gawker for advertising, is incensed his network of blogs was not included in the research project. ComScore's audience estimates are inaccurate he claims and, on his own blog, hints at a bias in the reporting in favor of a sponsor. He is asking that the research firm release the raw data of the report. At deadline, ComScore had no response.
What Calacanis, and other critics of the report do not dispute is its conclusion there's a whole lot of blog reading going on. ComScore found their readers have higher household incomes than most Internet users, and are younger than most surfers.
"The vast majority of advertisers have been waiting for data," Gawker's founder wrote at Nickdenton.org. "There's only one measurement that matters to media buyers and agencies," he explained. "Youth, with wealth, to advertisers, is a rare and desirable combination," Denton said.
ComScore said the five most popular Web logs in the first quarter of the year, and their audiences were: FreeRepublic.com (3.6 million unique visitors), Drudgereport.com (2.266 million), Fleshbot.com (1.186 million), Gawker.com (1.136 million), and Fark.com (1.125 million).
ComScore pointed out that many blogs have relatively large audiences that visit infrequently. For instance the average FreeRepublic.com reader logged on just 1.6 times during the quarter. Other blogs, such as DailyKos and TalkingPointsMemo are read by a smaller audience but are visited much more often.
Politics/News sites account for 43 percent of blog readers, ComScore reported, followed by "Hipster" (17%), Tech (15%),Women (8%), Media (8%), Personal (6%), and Business (3%).
In Denton's analysis, he noted that sites with "reader engagement" have a higher frequency of visits and faster growth rates. He conceded his company's tech/gadget blog was quickly overtaken by WeblogsInc.'s competitor, which allows reader feedback. "I might have to rethink my rather snobby aversion to comments," he wrote.
The report was co-authored by ComScore Networks analyst Graham Mudd and DoubleClick Inc.'s (DCLK) director of research, Rick Bruner.
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