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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gallup Survey May Mean Blog Boom Is Over

Blog Triumphalists may want to step back and examine a new Gallup survey that found no growth in the blog audience in 2005. There are even signs that the readership went down during the year past.

"The audience for web logs or 'blogs' had an auspicious start, going from practically zero to almost 20 in a very short time frame (20 being the percentage of Americans today who report reading blogs on at least an occasional basis," the Gallup News Service said Feb. 10 (subscription required).

"However, according to recent Gallup data, it seems the growth in the number of U.S. blog readers was somewhere between nil and negative in the past year," Gallup said.

The data upon which that statement was based was drawn from Gallup's annual Lifestyle survey conducted Dec. 5-8 2005, which found nine percent of internet users saying they read blogs frequently, 11 percent read them occasionally, 13 percent read them rarely and 66 percent never read them.

Those figures are virtually unchanged from the results of the same survey one year ago, according to Gallup. Although the response options varied slightly on the two surveys, Gallup said the results were so similar that "it is reasonable to draw some inferences. The main inference is that blog readership did not grow in 2005."

Gallup also noted, however, that there was little year-t0-year change in the frequency for most of the common activities conducted online by Internet users, including getting news and weather reports, shopping, paying bills and playing games. Blogging ranks on par with downloading music and participating in online auctions, according to Gallup.

Blog readers tend to be younger, Gallup said. About one in five Internet users under the age of 30 are blog readers, compared to only one in 10 among older Americans. Democrats are more than twice as likely to read blogs frequently than Republicans but there is little difference by party among all blog readers.

The Lifestyle survey includes telephone interviews with 1,013 randomly selected adults. Gallup says the survey has a 95 percent confidence level that the margin of error is three percent.