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Previously, on the internet... (November 05)

(This column appears in the November 05 issue of PC Advisor)

It's official - people who read blogs are younger and richer than the average web surfer, according to ComScore. Its study, entitled Behaviors of the Blogosphere, surveyed the surfing habits of 1.5 million US internet users. Apparently 50 million US net-heads visited blogs in the first quarter of 2005, the majority used broadband, were more likely to shop online, came from wealthier households and were younger.

Just the sort of media-savvy audience top brands are tearing each other apart to reach. The report was sponsored by Six Apart, creators of blog software Moveable Type, and Gawker Media, the hip blog-publishing network.

Gawker founder Nick Denton welcomed the results on his blog (www.nickdenton.org). "Gawker sales people tell advertisers that the blog audience is young, rich and influential," he began. While he had some data to back that up, he confessed that he had been apprehensive about the results: "Maybe all our readers are pensioners in Florida - but they're a relief."

A big relief indeed it turns out, since not only are affluent sexy young things reading plenty of blogs, the results show they're reading his blogs. Of the top 10 weblogs by unique visitors and total visits for the first quarter of 2005, Gawker sites racked up four of each.

No fair screamed Jason Calacanis, co-founder of Weblogs Inc, his toys visibly scattered round his pram. On his blog (http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com) he welcomed the survey - in theory. He then went on to question the data, particularly Gawker's Gizmodo tech-lust site verses his own Engadget: "It shows Gizmodo ahead of Engadget which we both know is not true."

He continued, "I have to ask: Comscore why is Weblogs Inc not in the report and why didn't you call us to be involved in this?" before opining that Gawker was included because it paid and Weblogs Inc not because it didn't.

With this spat being conducted in the blogosphere, everyone was free to chime in with their cyber-pence. And chime they did.

Fred Wilson (http://avc.blogs.com), New York venture capitalist and investor in ComScore said it's not the data that's the problem: "The issue with panel research is you need time to develop the statistical algorithms that weight the panel data correctly before you scale the numbers. And you need a very good dictionary of the domains you track. These take time to nail down. Comscore hasn't nailed it yet, but it never said it had."

Andrew Krucoff (www.youngmanhattanite.com) thinks the issue is PR, or lack thereof. "Most of this comes down to PR and how Denton and co blew it. Here was the first big ‘state of the blogs' research report and it's co-sponsored by just one company on the publisher side. Seems odd, no? Is there a fast-food industry report that's held in high regard sponsored solely by Burger King and the American Beef Association? Just curious."

Denton's blog has been silent since he announced the results of the survey. Calacanis, on the other, hasn't stopped. He'll probably still be going on about it when you read this.

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