Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Do blogs suffer from a low reputation? US Survey and research

September 22nd, 2007 by

According to a recent Synovate/Marketing Daily survey, 8% of Americans currently run their own blog. Can we take it as a progress?
Looking back at the Pew Internet survey (conducted April 2006), 8% of internet users reported having their own blog over a year ago. Somewhat surprising, Synovate’s survey shows no progress in this direction.
Another troubling result found in the Synovate research concerns the effect of blog reading on other media: Only 13% of blog readers say they spend less time with other forms of media (newspapers, television, radio) since they’ve started following blogs. Also – only 15% of blog readers report they read blogs in search for news.

These results contradict other strong indicators published: In a recent Harvard study based not on peoples report but on an examination of traffic to 160 websites over a year-long period, it was found that the biggest gains in audience occurred among the non-traditional news providers.  “The sites of search engines, service providers, aggregators, and bloggers grew faster on average than the sites of traditional news providers, whether print, broadcast, or cable”.
What does this tell us? Might it be that people find it hard to admit they read blogs or manage their own blog? Should we take to our notice that 15% of those never to read blogs report that “they don’t care about the opinions and ideas typically expressed in blogs”? Is it that blogs as a whole suffer from a low reputation? What do you think? Can you find other supporting evidence?

More from the Synovate’s survey:

  • American bloggers:
    The survey indicates that more women than men are bloggers, with 20% of American women who have visited blogs are having their own versus 14% of men.
  • Awareness and usage:
    8 out of 10 Americans know what a blog is and almost half have visited blogs.
    • Age effect: Nearly 90% of those aged 25 to 34 know what a blog is, compared to just 65% of those aged 65 and over. Similarly, 78% of those aged 18 to 24 who are aware of blogs say they have visited a blog, compared to only 45% of older Americans.
  • Reading habits:
    • Visits frequency:  39% of blog readers view them less than once a month, 28% visit them monthly, 15% visit them daily, 5% read them several times a day.
    • Loyalty to specific blogs: 46% of blog readers report visiting the same blogs regularly (while 54% usually surf for new and different ones).
  • Blogs as information source:
    65% read blogs to get opinions, 39% seek for news, 38% for entertainment. About 1 in 3 people read gossip on blog websites. 2% use blogs to catch up on personal news (family and friends).
  • The main reason people read blogs:
    Almost half of those surveyed say it’s because they find blogs entertaining, and another 26% read them to learn about specific hobbies or other areas they’re interested in. Only 15% of blog readers say they do so for news.
  • Among those who said they have never read a blog, the main reason cited was that they’re “just not interested”. Another 15% said that they don’t care about the opinions and ideas typically expressed in blogs.
  • Blogs as a marketing tool:
    43% of blog visitors indicated that they had noticed advertisements on blog websites, rising to 61% among those aged 18 to 24. Almost one-third of consumers have clicked on an ad while reading a blog.

The Synovate study was conducted online on with 1,000 adults in the US using Synovate eNation from July 30 to August 1.

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3 Responses

  1. Kevin Says:

    Hi Taly, here are my thoughts…

    1. No to low reputation.
    For one, that’s a low number of people who read blogs but don’t take up the opinions. Next, there’s no causality in any of the research findings which logically indicates low reputation. Just because most of us read blogs and might have our own opinion doesn’t mean that we don’t hold that blogger in high regard. Same goes for newspapers of high reputation.

    2. No to lack of growth in American blogosphere.
    Technorati’s doubling growth rate graph might be tapering off, but the sheer number indicates massive uptake (even with plenty of dropoffs). it’s inaccurate to compare results from two different studies since their measures would be different. Some other variable could have been in one study and not the other.

    This is something I tried studying before, a year long experimental survey study lead to so many problems in precision. I had to put it aside to work on my requirements, which are sadly not as exciting to me.

    I felt that the problem about this kind of reputation research is that:
    1. Lines are blurring between traditional and non-trad news sources… e.g. journalists having their own blogs, and professional bloggers who look like traditional news sources (engadget, dailykos).

    2. More so, users can’t discern between a blog or a web site. Most just read without caring about comments or rss feeds. When they say they know what a blog is, that “think” they know… mostly ending up with online personal diaries.

    It’d be good to conduct a study just to ascertain this idea though. :)

  2. Dana Says:

    Without looking at the studies and how they were conducted, who knows? But my guess is that it is unlikely that MSM sources will experience dramatic upswings or downswings. They are a constant and a sort of standard.

    What may be occurring with traffic to specific blogs is a general centralization as more and more people focus their reading and come to trust certain sources.

    Blogs have the most to gain as they gain credibility with their audience, but since they continually refer back to the MSM, I don’t see how they will replace it. For the most part, they complement it well, providing a place to discuss the news, find out more about a story and find follow ups to things that interest us.

  3. talyweiss Says:

    Kevin– thanks for your wise comment, you are right – we are not to compare between different methodologies. Still, we have a phenomenon we can spot and follow. I myself experience a lot of negative reactions (both from my academic and my professional peers) to the fact I write a blog. Indeed it will be interesting to conduct a research on how blogs (as a media) are being perceived today.

    Dana – I do think the concept of MSM is about to change. In the meantime – you’re right – blogs are a good complimentary. Thank you Dana for your ideas.

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