Wednesday, April 26th, 2006
We’ve wrapped up tallying the results of this year’s blog reader surveys, conducted last month. When we surveyed blog readers in 2004, we got 17,000 responses. Last year we got 30,000. This year we had 56,000, 36,000 of them in the political arena alone!
A fantastic result! Thank you to the 214 bloggers who encouraged their readers to respond. Thank you to the readers who took the time to fill out the surveys. And thank you to SurveyMonkey who gave flawless service throughout.
As I’ve noted in past years, the results of these surveys are anything but scientific. For one thing, we are surveying the choir. For another, the results are skewed by the blogs that choose to participate. For example, this year, the Republican share of the blogosphere seems to have dropped; this is simply because three big Republican blogs, Andrew Sullivan, Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs, who participated in prior years didn’t jump in this year.
But, even without our white labcoats on, the results are important and fascinating. The blogs that participated — ranging from DailyKos to Hugh Hewitt to PerezHilton to Largeheartedboy — are leaders in their fields. So this is, in a sense, a survey of the creme de la creme, the uniquely influential info-meisters who are increasingly unreachable via traditional publishing, whether because of skepticism about media biases or loyalty to their new tribes or to the distinct unfiltered brew of personality and attitude served by bloggers.
Understanding that blogosphere is definitely not one entity, but a series of sometimes overlapping, sometimes mutually exclusive communities, this year we chose to survey spheres separately. So we offered up separate surveys to readers of political blogs, mom blogs, gossip blogs and music blogs. This is a big advance from all too common simplistic overviews and stereotypes everyone currently relies on when they talk about “blog readers.” (To give you on example of sloppy “big picture” generalizations about the blogosphere that need to be dynamited: in February Harris Interactive did a survey of 2000-odd people and concluded “Young males dominate blog readership. 21 percent of people who reported reading a blog within the past 30 days were males, ages 18-29.”
Scientific no doubt. But pure baloney. As you’ll see when you look into the results of the new surveys, that generalization is like saying “most mammals live above ground,” a conclusion that misses every distinction that actually means something.
The new surveys show that the distinct communities of bloggers and their readers (politics, moms, gossip, music) exist and are radically different from each other. In brief:
The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 39% have post-graduate degrees. 70% have contributed to a campaign. 69% have bought music, 87% have bought books. 58% say blogs are “extremely useful” sources of information. 52% leave comments on other people’s blogs. Just 18% of political blog readers have their own blogs. (As you’ll see, that’s a lot lower than in other blogospheres.) Of these, 53% blog to keep track of their own ideas, 50% to let off steam, 36% to influence public opinion.
The median gossip reader is a 27 year old woman with annual family income $60,000. She reads 4 blogs a day, five hours a week. 17% have post-graduate degrees. 68% of gossip blog readers bought clothes online in the last six months and 63% bought music. 32% say blogs are “extremely useful” sources of information. 40% leave comments on other people’s blogs. 89% listen to one or fewer podcasts a week. 86% read blogs for humor. Of the 23% of gossip blog readers who blog themselves, 61% say they do it to keep track of their thoughts and 55% say they do it to let off steam.
The median mom blog reader is a 29 year old woman with an annual family income of $70K, reading 5 blogs a day for 4 hours a week. 26% have post-graduate degrees. 72% bought clothes online in the last six months, 83% bought books, 44% contributed to a campaign and 71% bought music. 57% leave comments in other blogs. 93% read for humor. 48% have their own blog and, of these, 73% read “to keep track of my thoughts,” 54% to let off steam.
The median music blog reader is a 26 year old man with an annual family income of 60K reading 5 blogs a day four hours a week. 17% have post graduate degrees. 58% leave comments. 86% have bought music, 70% books. 69% read blogs for humor, 55% for news they can’t find elsewhere. 41% have their own blog; of these, 58% read to keep track of their own thoughts, 39% to let off steam.
You can also see very different characteristics in everything from average family size to who RSS readership to hat sizes. (Oops, forgot to include that question.)
Here are the results from all the surveys in 2006, 2005 and 2004: http://www.blogads.com/survey/blog_reader_surveys_overview.html
(I meant to post this six hours ago, but have been stumbing around San Fransisco, the Al Gore of the Internet, looking for a wireless connection that works for more than 20 seconds.)
Update: At MyDD, Chris Bowers goes through the numbers with fine tooth comb. Here’s that link. And Bob Fertig at Democrats.com compares the numbers versus the NYT and the Wpost. And here’s Fertig’s analysis. Over at Right Wing News, John Hawkins breaks out his numbers: his numbers.