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.

  • “Income of $75,000 or more a year.”

    And do they donate? Do bison graduate cumma sum laude? Not likely. Some people take stingy to an extreme.

    ( :) )

  • williamP

    Those bar charts are too small to see.

  • Jim Dermitt

    “This conclusion alone should help persuade advertisers to shift more of their online budgets to blogs.”

    I don’t think you will see it. We went through all of this during the dotcom boom when people were developing websites for everything and anything. Banner ads, pop ups and pop under and don’t forget screen spam that would just appear from nowhere and take the screen over. I dropped an ISP when this started. Then there were all sorts of new ad blocker tools to stop the ads. Now we have blogs and a new era of ad gimmicks is always on the horizon. Try plastering ads all over buzzmachine. Load it up with ads. Use the ones that flash and make users get freaked out about the computer being at risk. Maybe we’ll see television commercials promoting blogs or newspaper ads run by bloggers. I saw a newspaper ad for something like craigslist. Maybe bloggers will start something like it and call it bloglist. Whatever happens, people will look for a way to block it or avoid it if it isn’t well done.

  • Here’s a reg-free link to the PDF.

  • It said “11% more likely to have an income of $75,000 or more”, a statistic that I find 44% too combobulated to take seriously.

    Meanwhile, no Instapundit but is #13? #20 on this list but #2518 on the ecosystem?

  • Jim Dermitt

    Dept. of The Paperless Economy

    I found this on craigslist

    A revolutionary, socialist feminist organization dedicated to the replacement of capitalist rule by a genuine workers’ democracy that will guarantee full economic, social, political, and legal equality to women, people of color, sexual minorities, and all who are exploited, oppressed, and repelled by the profit system and its offshoot — imperialism.

    I guess they are against making a buck. I wonder if they use money. All you need is data.

  • If companies were smart, they would begin generating buzz for their products in places where viral marketing can be most effective, like blogs. Additionally, some of the blogs (like mine) that companies might focus on are ones hosted by students and faculty at academic institutions. Because of the greater ranking that academic servers typically have with search engines, articles about their products could in fact rank higher than the companies own servers. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen it happen. For instance, I am constantly amazed at how much traffic comes through this blog from Google with search terms for everything from iPods to Keyspan products and Sonnet CPU upgrades I have reviewed in the past. Granted, many institutions have policies against revenue generation with that institutions bandwidth and this policy is appropriate, but if companies began seeding select bloggers with products with the understanding that there will be no financial relationship, the viral marketing could be tremendous.

  • Jim

    Break out the charts, it an econ class online.
    If it is cost effective, companies will spend money on blogging. It’s a cheap, low power media. It’s like a digital copier. It’s also like the water cooler. Please! Not the viral marketing again. We have enough viruses on the web. Kill the MSN Found virus was tough enough.

  • That Steve Rubel’s a solution-oriented kinda guy. Thanks for the link, Steve.

  • Jim

    correction: killing

  • Jim

    Right now there is some rehabbed alcoholic right wing nut job on the radio talking about nothing. This is all because of advertising. Cheap advertising just alters content, warps reality and messes with your head. Viral marketing was some kind of idea to make the advertising seem to blend into the background and make the fake real. Really good advertising is really expensive which is why there is so little of it. How do we do ads that don’t insult the entire network of users? If’s not the easiest thing to do. Anybody can slap banner ads or word code up. It just turns into ad blindness. That’s how ad words are now. None of it seems very original.

  • freerepublic being number one is going to make some section of the internet audience go nuts.

  • Karl

    There are no lists there is only your list.

    Sorry. Had to rib ya.

    No, really, it is great to see this compiled to compare to the other research being done out here, and this, in particular, will raise some eyebrows at media corporations.

  • Constant

    The same graphic (comscoreuniques.gif) is shown twice. Is this intentional?

  • Jim Dermitt

    I’m working on a list of lists myself. When it is done, I guess I’ll need to make a chart of the list. The chart gives it that Ross Perot political vibe.
    Mr. Perot seemed to use pie charts, for pie in the sky. Maybe this would be better if it were a pie chart.

  • Howard Owens

    FreeRepublic? Drudge? Slashdot? Blogs? When did these become blogs?

  • Jim Dermitt

    from the clueless dept.
    Ross Perot campaigned in 16 states and spent an estimated $65.4 million of his own money. What a waste of time that turned out to be. The Reform Party has a website out of Ft. Worth, TX. No sign of a blog yet!

  • Some thoughts on the report–which Gawker paid for–here:

  • Jim Dermitt

    I don’t even know what Gawker is or what it does.
    I guess it is something for blogging. It must be all about buzz.
    Another day, another report another list that is more important than all the other lists. Everybody is becoming a propaganda machine with worthless lists and lists of lists or some new tagging gimmick. I hope Gawker helps the problem, whatever the problem is. It all sounds very academic. You can’t measure morality. No matter what you spend trying it won’t work. Good luck Gawker, whatever the hell you do, I hope it works out for you.

  • Jim – I have seen you on a few blogs commenting – question – where is *your* blog?

  • Crunchette

    I have to agree with Jim on one front. I, too, don’t believe we’ll see a big shift to ad spending on blogs and if we do, I imagine it will likely be temporary. Here’s the thing. How is a blog really any different from the publishing functionality that the masses had available when Web page hosting sites, like Angelfire, were all the rage 10 years ago? Blogs may look prettier and give users simpler tools for publishing, but the fundamental problem remains that blogs are work; they take time and energy. I expect people who start blogs have about the same success rate as people who diet. A lot of enthusiasm the first few weeks which wanes pretty quickly, especially when the results seem so modest.

  • Jim Dermitt

    I just use blogs like this here and others. I don’t have list of the ones I use or a blogroll. I really don’t need a blog, so I don’t keep one running. I have a notebook with notes. I’m still working with a ballpoint pen. I don’t even have an ipod or mp3 player. I still spin old LP’s. I’m pretty much working with all sorts of old semi-dead and dead media. Mixed media, I guess. I have an old spirit press, if you remember those. I was blogging before blogging went corporate and multimedia. I guess I’m still fairly analog. I like plugging into the digital signal, but digital is ones and zeros and Life isn’t. Digital is kind of dead. It seems to be a massive transfer the wealth scheme. I still like paper money, paper securities and the old stuff. These new people with all this paperless eConomy stuff amaze me. Google is now defining who should write what, so that should be interesting. A new digital elite is emerging on the scene. Kind of the masters of censorship or the corporate thought police. I guess it’s death to the news, long live the news. Here’s to the new ruling class. The rules don’t apply to certain people. Live free or die.

  • Jim Dermitt

    My computer chair is from a jet. Well built! If you can find one, get it. Your chair is the most important part of your setup.

  • Crunchette, you might be right that people who start blogs have about the same success rate as people who diet. A lot of enthusiasm the first few weeks which wanes pretty quickly, especially when the results seem so modest.

    But when someone succeeds at dieting it is a personal success. When someone succeeds at blogging (what ever that means…) it is something that can reach thousands, if not millions.

    That’s not to put down dieting, but to show you that comparison doesn’t make anysense whatsoever.

    Think about it.

  • Max Kalehoff

    I think the comScore custom report based on their Media Metrix panel was a wonderful edition to our understanding of blog audiences. comscore is a reputable third-party audience ratings firm, and they did a great job. But one thing I don’t think the report accounted for was consumption, interaction or engagement of blog/rss content via news readers. To be sure, news readers are still niche, so the vasat distribution of indivdual blog readers (people) would fall predominantly outside of them. In other words, most blog-reading people are probably reading blogs as unique visitors to the actual blog Web sites – they’re not receiving feeds.

    However, it is possible that a HUGE concentration of blog reading, impressions and engagement fall within the people who use readers. For example, I use my reader to scan about 50 blogs and 50 mainstream news feeds and 50 technorati and bloglines searches everyday. I am a samplee of one, but I argue it is simply not feasible to visit each of those individual sites one by one.

    And today, I don’t know of anyone who is collecting that data from an audience perspective. That’s not so much a problem now, but if news/RSS readers become mainstream, that could be a huge issue…but not just for measuring blogs, but for measuring any media delivered via RSS. Undoubtedely, all of those feeds and media will become evermore fragmented, and less conducive to the traditional panel-based audience tracking approach. I could be wrong, but that’s my hunch.

    Disclosure: I used to be the lead marketing guy for comScore Media Metrix, and I left to do my own consulting gig and other stuff. I still have the utmost respect for them, including Graham Mudd, who worked under me years ago and authored the blog report. Congrats on the report, Graham! And good luck in business school! Oh, congrats to Rick Bruner as well.

  • Jim Dermitt

    This is all the same as Angelfire or the other early publishing tools. Except email or “forums” were used then for the interactive bit. The academics tagged it blogging and the earth would spin in reverse or something. Jeffs idea will help generate more blog spam and some smart soul will quietly write a program to block it. This is a far more efficient way to waste time than Angelfire was. It’s going to change TV seems to be the big idea recently.
    That was the big idea in the 1980’s. TCI was going to build some sort of interactive TV system that was going to change TV. TV couldn’t change TV. Now the TV people are trying to change the PC to make it more like the TV or change the TV to make it a PC. I have an old TV with an 82 channel dial, besides the regular VHF dial and it gets about 6 channels and 3 of them have static. The rest have, wel nothing. You need a box to get more channels. It’s all Adelphias fault or something. What a circus!

  • Jim Dermitt

    Oh yea, there’s webTV which never got really figured out. Now the buzz is blogcasting or blogvision. Remembering Napster, those were the days of our lives. Now it’s the podcast and we are only another gadget away from eternal communication with Capt. Kirk. Ships log beam me up Scotty. This changes everthing. Yea right! I think we are living in a fantasy land, designed by Walt Disney or something. M-I-C…-…K-e-Y MOUSE. Now the news is the media and the media is whatever comes to mind second to second. The facts are all controlled by HAL and searchable with Google. It’s 2001 and we are in deep space here controlling the horizontal while they control the content. You just can’t measure morality.

  • Jim Dermitt

    Study botany.

    Plants are convenient organisms in which fundamental life processes (like cell division and protein synthesis for example) can be studied, without the ethical dilemmas of studying animals or humans.

    Plants are well organized without our help. They also provide an early warning system alerting us to important changes in our environment. Plants are more informative than most of the blogs out there.

    Perhaps all of the blogs combined.

    Plants don’t have brains, but they may be smarter than some blogs in the blogabyss.

  • Interesting report but I think misses the broader perspective and does the category a disservice. I blogged about it on my blog.

  • Jim Dermitt

    I think I’ll go talk to my plant and give it some water. You folks keep measuring things here and remember this is going to change everything.
    It’s the next BIG thing. Word up!

  • As a blogger and a FReeper, I assert that FR is not a blog. In fact, they have a ghetto just for posts from blogs (or for posts that criticize Bush).

    The chart – such as I could make out even after downsizing my monitor – has been helpful however. I never knew about crazyass13, which is truly the blog to end all blogs. Including the links to Adult Friend Finder, Casino Del Rio, and poker sites. At least it’s better than Insty.

  • Jim Dermitt, you sound like the lead monologue in the movie Trainspotting
    “choose life, choose a car, choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players….”

  • I got a copy of the said report and read the Technorati’s State of Blogosphere as well. When reviewing both, it partly supported each other. Although in a group meeting last Thursday, there were some contention that the likes of typepad should not be listed along blogspot/blogger as they are more of platforms. Despite its imperfections, it is a good start and look forward in reading more reports in relation to it.

  • So basically what they are saying is that blog readers are more sophisticated, better educated, more discerning, probably have a larger wallet, and need information like a sponge needs water am I right? It certainly raises not negative points about the true blog consumer, however, it does about the rest of us. Maybe we all should strive to participate and read blogs from here on out!
    Take Care,
    Great Piece,

  • Love, like a river, will cut a new path
    whenever it meets an obstacle.
    -Jakob :)