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Blogs as Big Media

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.

Blogs as Big Media

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Blogger 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 didn’t 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.

Jason
Posted 08/09/2005 09:29:45 AM
Mine gets read more than my new niece reads the paper.  Take that Inquirer!
MamaQ
Posted 08/09/2005 10:41:49 AM
uhh, Dan...you wrote of "blogs written by women." Is that supposed to be shorthand for the houseife diary "Momoir" style blogs? Because I *think* some of the political and hipster blogs are, in fact, written by women. 
I'm just sayin'.
daniel rubin
Posted 08/09/2005 10:55:00 AM
Mom - the study separates them that way, so Wonkette is in a different category than blogs written by women, although Wonkette is clearly more than a Wonk. It is not to say there are no hipster mamas. 
MamaQ
Posted 08/09/2005 10:57:41 AM
No, what I mean was does "blogs written by women" imply a writing style, as in a Dooce vs. a Wonkette? I guess it's their categorization that's irking me, not you bro. 
daniel rubin
Posted 08/09/2005 11:52:48 AM
I have always respected my mama. i think, and they haven't released their fine print, that the by-woman blogs are not political or techy. less popular culture and more personal culture.
Jason
Posted 08/09/2005 12:18:30 PM
"Youth, with wealth, is, to advertisers, a rare and desirable combination."

Oh GREAT.  There are some ads on this blog that bring my scrollbar all the way down to the bottom of the page.  I hate that.  I hate when ads have stuff that pops up on the page.  Not pop-up windows, just stuff like what you can do with "Flash" or Dynamic HTML.  Now every blog is going to be this way.  Google ad-words are the best: non-intrusive, non-annoying, avoidable, sometimes you don't even see them.

It comes down to where I would expect to see advertisements:  Websites that provide a service but don't charge for it and would like some money.  Or they're obligated.  To me, blogs don't *really* provide a service.  Ok, some do, but they already have ads.

My biggest thing about ads, and so-called ads on blogs, is what I mentioned above (intrusive and annoying, not targeted), but also, if they're random, they don't represent what the author of that website particularly endorses.  Dan, do you use "smartautowarranty.com" ??? :-P  Another obvious issue is those ads leading to spyware.

Other than that, I love them.
daniel rubin
Posted 08/09/2005 01:35:16 PM
an apology: my digital betters at philly.com tell me that the ad that hijacks your browser violates our policy (and my sense of taste) and they are in the process from keeping it from ever happening again.

as for the ads, i haven't yet had the occasion to use smartautowarranty. unlike other bloggers - i don't see any of the money, don't pick the ads, don't get involved in any of the decisions about that. on purpose. there is a long and smart tradition in the paper of separating business and editorial.  

i am paid a flat salary. but those ads allow the paper to use me full-time on blinq right now, and so i am grateful in general.
Jason
Posted 08/09/2005 01:43:59 PM
sure, that fits the "obligated" bill I stated :)  I wasn't calling into question any "payroll" blogs.  If there's a corporation involved, or some other bigger body which pays its writers... how else would you get money?

it's not like i'm going to start up an anti-advertising advertising campaign :)  ads in good taste are harmless.  i would just rather have them approved before most content-creators show them on their websites.  at the least.  endorsing goes a step further.
Jason
Posted 08/09/2005 01:48:27 PM
e.g.  On philly.com, I start to read an article and all the sudden their is a train going across my browser, obstructing my view of the first paragraph.  There's an "X" or "close" button on the ad, but it does nothing.

Alright, I'm done :)
Peter Brady
Posted 08/24/2005 11:20:11 AM
Very insightful article. Just shows how influential a well constructed blog can be.
All the best. Peter from adsonblogs.blogspot.com
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About this blog
Daniel Rubin is a columnist and The Inquirer's director of social media. Since joining newspaper as a staff writer in 1988, Daniel Rubin has reported from Mayfair to Macedonia, 27 countries in all. He has been the European Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and for two years he sat at home and wrote Blinq, the paper's first daily blog. Dan began newspaper work in Norfolk and Louisville, Ky., after getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University. He has lived in all four commonwealths, most recently in Pennsylvania. He teaches urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania

Email Blinq here. My day job - Inquirer metro columnist - is here.

Reach Daniel at drubin@phillynews.com.

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