Blog Readership Down, Influence Up

    February 23, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Nearly ten years after blogging began in earnest, the readership of blogs among Internet users ranks well below other activities those users do online regularly.

"You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs."
-- Hannibal Lecter foreshadows the reaction of every non A-list blogger upon learning they will never gain riches or fame from their blogging efforts.

If polling research firm Gallup’s latest report applies to the Internet at large, a good number of people read blogs. Their numbers appear to be flat or declining though, based on their activity in 2005.

A scant 9 percent of users read blogs frequently, with 11 percent reading them occasionally. Out of the thirteen activities Gallup measured in its poll, reading blogs finished dead last. Email rated first, followed by checking news and weather, shopping, and planning for travel.

While readership may be leveling off, the influence of top blogs has increased. The poll noted an opposing viewpoint bloggers will likely advocate, as the Chicago Tribune reported:

“[M]any bloggers will argue that the influence of blogs is immeasurably greater than their readership statistics would suggest,” Gallup says, “because of the disproportionate influence they have on opinion leaders, political insiders and modern news media.”

The Tribune also cited Daniel Gross’ article at Slate on a possible blog bubble waiting to pop. Among the warning signs is AOL’s $25 million deal to buy Weblogs Inc. The purchase has been derided in some quarters as AOL buying the hugely popular Engadget blog for that price with the rest of the Weblogs Inc network along for the ride.

The truth seems to be at one remove from the blogosphere. While the direct readership of blogs may be flat, the indirect readership via the influence Gallup acknowledges means a few blogs will have staying power and enough strength to remain viable for a while longer.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.