Wednesday, August 10, 2005
RESEARCH: Skyrocketing blog usage seen as rebuke of "mainstream" media
Survey: Blog Readership Skyrocketing Aug. 9, 2005 [c.gif] [c.gif]
The surging popularity of blogs has led comScore Networks to suggest that
blogs can now be thought of as part of the mainstream media, if not rivals.
By Thomas Claburn
In six years, blogs have gone from navel-gazing online diaries to must-read
Internet publications that rival the reach and influence of traditional
A new study from online research firm comScore Networks Inc. reveals that 50
million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites in the first quarter of this
year, up 45% from the first quarter of 2004. That represents about 30% of
all U.S. Internet users, or a sixth of the total U.S. population.
The study is based on data from comScore's opt-in research panel. The panel
tracks the online activity of 1.5 million U.S. Internet users and reflects
the behavior of consumers who visited the 400 top Weblog properties and
blog-hosting services during the first three months of 2005.
Given their popularity, the study suggests that blogs can now be thought of
as part of the mainstream media.
There are approximately 14.7 million blogs, if one goes by blog search
engine Technorati.com. But it's the top blog properties that are growing the
fastest. The study finds that six of the top 10 blog-hosting services have
seen their traffic numbers grow by more than 100% from the first quarter of
2004 to the first quarter of 2005. For example, according to comScore,
Blogspot.com now draws more traffic than NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, or
New York University journalism professor and author Adam L. Penenberg sees
the increasing popularity of blogs as a sign of disaffection with
traditional media coverage. "I think the public's appetite for
consumer-created content on the Web (like blogs) mirrors its taste for
reality shows, celebrity gossip magazines, talk radio, and cable TV shows,"
he says via E-mail. "The public craves intimacy. We want to feel like we
know the people we read and read about, listen to on the radio, watch on TV,
and click to on the Net."
"Mainstream media outlets should realize that objective 'just the facts,
ma'am' type of journalism isn't compelling enough anymore--and is, in fact,
a major turn off to younger audiences, which are their future subscribers,"
Rick Bruner, co-author of the report and director of research at Internet
advertising company DoubleClick Inc. (which wasn't involved with the study),
sees blogs complementing traditional media rather than competing with it. "I
think it's much more of a symbiotic relationship than one transforming the
other," he says.
The public's embrace of blogs is particularly significant for marketers,
Bruner says. As the study notes, bloggers represent an attractive audience
in demographic terms. They tend to live in wealthier households, be younger,
favor high-speed Internet connections, and be more likely to shop online.
Such statistics haven't been lost on forward-looking advertisers. Late last
year, Nike launched a blog (now inactive) called "Art of Speed" with the
assistance of Gawker Media to promote a series of short films about speed
(and, obliquely, about its shoes). Lee Dungarees has a blog called "90 Ft.
Babe" that features posts by "Natalia ... an unusually tall model/actress"
whose avowed interests include "cute guys, shoes, my favorite lip gloss,