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The state of the Blogosphere

By deepsand ·
Americans Still Unaware Of Blogosphere

By Chris Richardson

As blogging continues to engrain itself into the everyday life of the Internet, some have wondered just how far the blogosphere has penetrated into normal day-to-day life.

To clarify this issue, Pew Internet conducted a survey that measured the state of blogging and how it impacts the average American Internet user. The determinations from Pew's survey reveal that while blog readership continues to increase (by 58% according to the study), the average American Internet user does not know what a blog is.

Pew estimates there are 120 million Internet users within the United States, and of that 120, 7% (> 8 million) have created a personal blog. The study also indicates by the end of 2004, blog readership increased to 32 million readers, again, a 58% improvement from Pew's last blog-related survey.

The study also produced a list of characteristics that bloggers normally possess. These are as follows:

Men: 57% are male

Young: 48% are under age 30

Broadband users: 70% have broadband at home

Internet veterans: 82% have been online for six years or more

Relatively well off financially: 42% live in households earning over $50,000

Well educated: 39% have college or graduate degrees

Blog readers, on the other hand, are considered to be part of the Internet user mainstream but there are similarities with those that blog. Readers like bloggers, are normally young, well educated, and Internet savvy men. However, the survey did note that blog readership has also increased with women, minorities, and Internet users over 30.

Because the survey was conducted during November of 2004, the Presidential election was a source of interest concerning the state of blogging. Because of the blogosphere's coverage of the "Rathergate" incident, some view the 2004 election as the time blogs moved from the underground to the mainstream. Because of the blogosphere's quick, aggressive, and sometimes-incorrect coverage of Dan Rather's reporting, the term "blog" moved into the media's forefront, especially with the twenty-four hour news services.

However, this does not indicate blogging has been accepted into the vernacular. Pew's survey also indicated only 38% of the American Internet population are familiar with the terms "blog" and "blogging" and what they mean. This means 62% of 120 million (74 million) are not aware of the work people like Steve Rubel, Darren Rowse and lots of others do on a daily basis.

For the first time, Pew also questioned those surveyed about their exposure to the RSS/XML methods of content syndication. According to Pew's study, the use of RSS readers stands at 5% of American Internet users.

Because RSS is still considered a fledgling method of content delivery, the 5% is viewed as a strong foothold. As RSS use and the subsequent advertising continues to grow, it's quite possible syndication may develop into an effective method of content delivery.

While blog readership continues to increase, it has not quite solidified itself within the general American public. Of course, the concept of search engines took some time to take off with the general public too.

While blogs may not be as popular as their inflated sense of self leads them to believe, as the term continues to become apart of the American mainstream and readership continues to increase (as it has in each of the last Pew blog surveys), one can expect their influence to grow as well.

Of course, these numbers may hurt the monetization potential of blogs in the short-term. If the majority of the American Internet population is unaware of the blogosphere, it's highly unlikely that major advertisers would consider the blogs a viable outlet for their promotions. Although, popular blogs like endgadget and Boing Boing may beg to differ.

But, as readership continues to climb, securing 3rd party, non-AdWords-based advertising should become a stronger possibility.

About the Author:
Chris Richardson is a search engine writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.


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I think blogging has a niche

by AV . In reply to The state of the Blogosph ...

I think blogging has a niche that it has yet to find. It truly has no rules right now and thats what the problem is.

Blogging can be like living your life online. Its a diary of sorts that can be demanding for little return except your own satisfaction in writing it. There is a trick though to having a successful blog, I'm not sure what it is. One thing I can think of is to have fresh content all the time.

I've been working on setting up a blog at work for one of the attorneys. The hardest part was trying to explain what he should be blogging about. I gave him examples of current law events and showed him other blogs, but he wasn't sure that he wanted to do it in the end because he didn't see the benefit.

I disagreed with him so I tried to set up my own blog. My biggest problem was what to blog about. Then I had a committment problem. I didn't think I had the time to keep it up.

Blogs will have their place one day. Now is the time to define what that will be. If someone's blog becomes popular, advertisers will invest.

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The marketers are already salivating.

by deepsand In reply to I think blogging has a ni ...

It should not be very long now before we see the first Sponsored Links & Banner Ads appearing.

You are quite right re. the effort required for a blog to publicly "successful." I fully expect that the marketers will for many provide the needed incentive.

And there, as they say, goes the neighborhood.

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