"Ratings" from third-party comScore could be the missing ingredient blogs need to become viable moneymakers.
Responding to customer demand, market researcher comScore Sept. 11 said it would start counting the audiences for blogging sites in what it is formally calling a Conversational Media Report. The report will tally the number of readers of blogs both popular and obscure, as well as some social networking sites.
ComScore did not respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment, but the company said in a statement it is working with Federated Media Publishing, a company created by search blogger John Battelle to help marketers find new websites to do business with.
But comScore, of Reston, Va., said in its methodology description that after investigating blogging trends researchers unearthed characteristics and trends unique to the visitors of the sites that require a "custom projection technique" to account for their online behaviors.
"Heavy visitors to conversational media sites, in particular, exhibit certain niche online behaviors that can be underrepresented in a general consumer panel," said comScore, which had a benchmark comprised of log data from the top blog publishers to verify counts.
Forrester Research Charlene Li told eWEEK that the move indicates blogs are getting enough traffic to where businesses can start selling advertising on them.
"You can actually know how many people are visiting them and who is visiting them to monetize them much more effectively," Li said, noting that some blogs are getting millions of readers. "The publishers need it; the marketers need it because the economy that drives all of this is advertising. Until you have a third-party measurement, you can't really monetize it."
From a social standpoint, Li also said the report will be an "ego blast," noting that the top 100 blogs on Technorati's watch list may not be the most highly trafficked blogs. Technorati currently claims to track 104.4 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media, but the company doesn't track blog traffic.
The comScore Conversational Media report will be available as a custom report within comScore's MyMetrix interface.
Custom reports are not new at comScore, reflecting the evolving nature of the way consumers dig for information or communicate via the Internet. comScore also offers qSearch for expanded search market coverage, Video Metrix for online video tracking and Widget Metrix for widget viewership.
ComScore drew mixed reactions when it unveiled qSearch, as the expanded search listing gave Google, the overwhelming market leader with over 50 percent of the search market, a boost. qSearch, for example, counts YouTube as part of Google's expanded search listing even though the video-sharing site is not a traditional top-line search site.
News of the Conversational Media Report also comes a week after scores of startup companies and Web 2.0 experts and fans convened in San Francisco for Office 2.0, where blogs, wikis, mashups and other collaboration technologies ruled the roost.
At the event, Adam Carson, who works to employ Web 2.0 technologies into the various business groups at Merrill Lynch, proclaimed in a session that blogging has gone mainstream.
"You can walk into a senior manager's office now and talk to him about blogs, wikis and social networks and not have to worry about having the door slammed in your face," Carson said. "Two years ago, you'd have to worry about that."
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