The Blogosphere Offers More Advertising Reach
A new report by comScore, "Behaviors of the Blogosphere: Understanding the Scale, Composition, and Activities of Weblog Audiences," found that 50 million Americans, or about 30 percent of the U.S. Internet population, visited blogs in the first quarter of 2005, representing a 45 percent increase over Q1 2004. Six of the top-10 hosts have grown by more than 100 percent compared to last year, and the leader, blogspot.com, received more visitors than the online sites for The New York Times, USA Today, or The Washington Post, going from 7,676 unique visitors in Q1 2004 to 19,010 unique visitors in Q1 2005.
"We're entering a seller's market in online advertising," says Rick Bruner, coauthor of the report (with comScore's Graham Mudd) and director of research at DoubleClick. He notes a 32 percent increase in online advertising spending from 2003 to 2004. "There's a restriction of available advertising inventory and a reduction of clutter on the page, so prices are going up. Advertisers might look for some of these smaller sites to get further reach." The report found that compared with 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. They visit nearly twice as many Web pages as the Internet average, and are much more likely to shop online.
Google is working on classifying sites so that advertisers can increase relevancy. Search engines like technorati.com and icerocket.com specialize in blogs that help advertisers figure out where to start. Slashdot.org is one example of a blogging site featuring relevant messaging for its readership. Dubbed News for Nerds, Bruner calls it a "must-read for tech junkies." It features a banner ad for Dice, a technology job site.
One of the challenges for advertisers, according to Bruner, is that many blogs don't fit the standard format for typical ads and what might work well in a more typical medium won't necessarily work on blogs. These readers expect more conversational engagements, he says, and companies like blogads.com are banning together groups of bloggers who will accept ads and provide tips on creative approaches to reaching this channel. "Not only is it demographically richer, but there's a growing belief that blog readers are more influential, hipper, and through word of mouth campaigns can get an echo effect. It's a good medium if you're trying to introduce something new, [but] advertisers need to be a little more creative, more hands on."
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