Move over Sulzbergers, Grahams and Gannetts - a new survey shows the biggest blog hosts reach as many readers as the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today. In fact Blogspot alone reaches more.
The Behaviors of the Blogosphere study, by comScore Networks and sponsored by SixApart and Gawker Media, found that 50 million Americans visited blog sites in the first quarter of 2005, which is 30 percent of all U.S. Internet users - or one out of six people. That's a jump of 45 percent over the same period in 2004.
Of the 400 biggest blogs examined, political blogs were the more popular, followed by "hipster" blogs such as Gawker and BoingBoing, tech blogs and blogs written by women. 43 percent of all visitors come for politics and news.
The survey found that compared to average Internet users, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthy households, shop online, be young and have broadband connections. The study chose popular sites based on a combination of measures, including lists kept by such services as Daypop, Blogdex, BlogPulse, Technorati and TruthLaidBear. Technorati, for instance, tracks 14 million blogs today, although not all are regularly updated.
Karl Martino, of Philly Future, writes on his own blog that the report's method of determining the most popular blogs "will freak some out entirely." He found it a major fault that comScore counts hosting domains, not individual blogs, so an Eschaton - the Philadelphia political blog that gets 120,000 visits a day - isn't ranked on its own.
Jeff Jarvis, of Buzzmachine, writes: "comScore says that blogs are now big media. I actually wish they didnt try to measure this broad, distributed world in the old, concentrated terms of media but, hey, old habits die hard."
Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, finds one fact most appetizing: while 37% of Internet users had annual household income over $75,000, 41% of blog readers made that much.
"That may not sound like much of a difference. But based on their age profile alone, one would expect blog readers to be poorer: 32% are between 18 and 34, compared with 24% of the general internet population. Youth, with wealth, is, to advertisers, a rare and desirable combination. This conclusion alone should help persuade advertisers to shift more of their online budgets to blogs. Some of the more adventurous brands, such as Nike, Absolut and Audi, have experimented with blog advertising. And some marketers, such as the movie studios, have no choice but to follow their audiences online."
According to Editor & Publisher, USA Today had a circulation of 2,154,539 million, while the New York Times had 1,118,565 and the Washington Post had 732,872. (The Wall Street Journal actually came in second and the Los Angeles Times came in fourth, but the study didn't count the bigger papers to make its argument. Or need to.)
Blogs hosted on Blogspot, meanwhile, reached 19 million visitors in the first quarter of the year. The Drudge Report, alone, drew 2.3 million visitors during that three-month period, and each one returned more than 18 times.
These are some serious apple to oranges being compared however. The papers don't count their pass-along readership - that is the other people in the household/office/bus station who read them. And Blogspot, the Google-owned software, platforms everyone from some of this newspaper's bloggers like Jeff Gelles and Tony Gnoffo, to thousands of people who blog about deeply personal subjects and don't seek to influence anyone. Most Americans read none of them. Blog readers read a tiny fraction of them. And they don't have the networks in place - AP wires and other news services - to distribute their content to other media. Still these numbers are growing outrageously fast. It's a major migration of eyeballs.
By email, Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads, finds another aspect fascinating, that 70 percent of Blogspot traffic and 60 percent of tech siteEngadget's come via search engines. This means they are "one-off visitors with no brand affiliation... whereas NYT has more brand loyalty. But the same brand loyalty also applies to DailyKos and the other political blogs."
The bloggers v MSM argument has been raging pretty regularly. Here are couple of the more recent entries.
Today's Christian Science Monitor story that begins "Mainstream journalism is running scared."
Greensboro News & Record columnist and blogger Ed Cone's response, which calls the CSM reporter "just plain wrong" about local blogging.