Measuring us

comScore Media Metrix just released the first major marketing study of the blogging audience — a study in the format and from a source advertisers will pay attention to. The study, cosponsored by SixApart and Gawker Media, used comScore’s consumer panel — that is, surveys with people instead of cookies and server stats — to find out who visits blogs at 400 domains (including big ones, such as LiveJournal, Blogger, and Typepad and others that get onto such lists as Technorati’s). Among the findings:

• 50 million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites in the first quarter of 2005. That is roughly 30% of all U.S. Internet users and 1 in 6 of the total U.S. population
• Five hosting services for blogs each had more than 5 million unique visitors in that period, and four individual blogs had more than 1 million visitors each
• Of 400 of the biggest blogs observed, segmented by seven (nonexclusive) categories, political blogs were the most popular, followed by “hipster” 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 connect to the Web on high-speed connections
• Blog readers also visit nearly twice as many web pages as the Internet average, and they are much more likely to shop online

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. They found that this year’s blog audience…

…represents an increase of 45 percent compared to Q1 2004. While it’s difficult to define where the threshold lies for “mainstream media,” one could argue that with approximately 30 percent of the U.S. Internet audience now visiting blogs, this medium is quickly approaching that status….

Traffic to the top blog hosting services has grown considerably in the past year. The top four hosts each now reach more than five million visitors per quarter. In fact, now reaches more visitors than, and — clear evidence that consumer-generated media can draw audience on par with traditional online publishers.

Here is comScore’s list of top blogs as measured by unique audience — by reach, as advertisers like to say:

Because comScore analyzed blogs by host, it separated the many that reside with big services, like LiveJournal, from standalone blogs, like Gawker, Engadget, or Kos. That’s an odd separation, since some category-leading blogs — like Atrios — also happen to be hosted on a big service. But with that methodology in mind, here is comScore’s analysis of the popularity of non-hosted blogs:

Some demographic highlights:

* Blog visitors are 11 percent more likely than the average Internet user to have incomes of $75,000 or more
* Blog visitors are 30 percent more likely than the average Internet user to live in households where the household head is 18 to 34 years old….
* In addition to being an attractive advertising audience demographically, comScore found that Blog visitors are significantly heavier Internet users than the average consumer. The average Blog visitor viewed nearly 16,000 pages over the course of the Q1 2005 – 77 percent more than the 9,000 pages viewed the average Web user. Blog users also spend substantially more time online. The average Blog visitor spent nearly 18,000 minutes or about 23 hours per week online, while the average Internet user spent just over 10,000 minutes or 13 hours per week online.

Yes, indeed, this proves that blog readers have no lives.

: Here’s Nick Denton’s analysis.< blockquote>There’s only one measurement that matters, however, to media buyers at the ad agencies. comScore found that, while 37% of internet users had annual household income in excess of $75,000, 41% of blog readers were in that top band.

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. But the vast majority of advertisers have been waiting for data. Here it is.
Nick also reveals some of the stats from a separate breakout he commissioned on Gawker Media’s own blogs.

: Here’s Fred Wilson’s tidbit about the frequency of blog visits to the social blogs sites, like LiveJournal.

: Here’s a link to comScore’s release; you need to sign up to get the PDF.

: Sorry that the charts are hard to read. Here’s a free link to the full PDF.