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September 25, 2008

Remember The Blogosphere? It Hasn’t Gone Away

I received an email from someone I met last week at OMMA Global, asking if all of us people up on stage yammering on and on about social media had forgotten about the blogosphere. He has a point. For many of us, blogging is somewhat like breathing. Inhale a deep thought. Exhale it into a post. Press “Publish.” Repeat.

Sometimes, even when my posts are garnering lots of comments, I don’t even think of it as being social media. As a four-year vet of the blogosphere, first at, and now here at MediaPost and over at, blogging just is.

Little did that person know, however, that I planned to do this column on Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere 2008” report, which is coming out in stages over the course of the week. In it, Technorati focused on bloggers who have registered with its site, which Vice President/Marketing Jennifer McLean admits represents people who take their blogging seriously.

However, it’s still quite surprising how far blogs have come in terms of the professionalism their creators bring to their keyboards, the number of Web 2.0 tools they use to enhance their blogs and drive traffic, and even the amount of revenue they generate. The first three days focused on “Who Are the Bloggers?,” “The What and Why of Blogging,” and “The How of Blogging.” But for the purposes of this column, I’ll focus first on facts I think everyone in the marketing and media industries should read from the topics that Technorati will cover Thursday and Friday, which are “Blogging for Profit” and “Brands Enter the Blogosphere,” respectively.

In “Blogging for Profit,” the majority of bloggers Technorati surveyed have some form of advertising on their site; two-thirds of those use contextual advertising like Google’s AdSense. Some are also driving relatively decent CPMs. Among U.S. bloggers, the median was $1.20, the mean $4.20, with a maximum CPM of $30. While for most that’s not nearly enough to make a living, it’s also surprising that the mean annual revenue for domestic bloggers is slightly over $5,000. Bloggers aren’t typing away completely in vain.

The  “Brands Enter the Blogosphere” section shows why all companies should consider at least listening to social media a little more seriously: more than 80% of bloggers have spent some time talking about brands. “Their brand is out there whether they’ve started their social media strategy or not,” says McLean of corporate marketers. Let me just take a moment to interject: Cablevision, that means you!

But I digress. Even as most companies are having trouble grappling with social media, it’s fascinating to read how many have actually reached out to the blogosphere, however clumsily. They realize, as McLean notes, that bloggers are early adopters, and one-third say that a corporation has reached out to them to ask them to be a brand advocate; 61% of those have been offered payment. I got a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner from a CPG company once. Does that count?

Even though 57% of U.S. bloggers are male, women are better about monetizing their blogs (present company excluded). While not exactly turning their blogs into ATMs, 16%  of women — and only 7% of men — use an ad network; They are also heavier users of affiliate links (41%) as compared to men (32%), and are better at driving traffic by becoming part of a bigger link-o-sphere. The report also says 36% of women have been able to translate their blog into a business lead. You guessed it, men lag here too, at only 27%.

I’m going to guess that for many women, blogging, even if it’s on their own time, is part of their vocation rather than their avocation. While few women where I live are bloggers, many share the same entrepreneurial bent that I have — piecing together a living, as opposed to having a job, and drawing on all of the resources they can think of to keep the income flow going. Blogging seems increasingly to be a part of that.

The report also says that most people blog for self-expression and to share expertise. They left out my case, which is that I need to feed my massive ego by looking for constant recognition that my thoughts on the bizarr-o Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft spots will rewrite advertising as we know it. How come no one has noticed???

Catharine P. Taylor has been covering digital media and advertising for almost 15 years. She currently writes daily about advertising on her blog, and can be reached at