Blogads, the people who sell and serve up the ads that run on the right side of L.A. Observed and several dozen other blogs, collected an unscientific survey this week of 17,159 website visitors. Alas, the self-selecting way it was done — if one of the 50 sites that Blogads asked to post the survey did, and a visitor happened to fill it out, they were counted — means that very little if anything can be extrapolated about the characteristics of blog readers or even of most visitors to Blogads-served sites. That won't stop boosters of the medium from acting like the numbers have great meaning, since this is about all there is for blog-reader demographics. (Anyone who is skeptical of newspaper or political polls but accepts these numbers deserves to be ridiculed). Given the caveats, the results are still an interesting snapshot of one slice of the audience, skewed toward the political blogs that Blogads favors and I'll assume toward survey responders who are more engaged in blogs than the typical website reader. (In the following paraphrases, I'm substituting "Survey takers were" where Blogads' Henry Copeland writes "Blog readers are"):
Survey takers were 79% male, 61% were over 30, 75% said they make more than $45,000 a year, 21% were bloggers.
Survey takers were united in their apathy about traditional news sources: 82% said that television is worthless or only somewhat useful as a source of news and opinion. 55% percent say the same about print newspapers. 54% say the same about print magazines.
Meanwhile, 86% say that blogs are either useful or extremely useful as sources of news or opinion. 80% say they read blogs for news they can't find elsewhere. 78% read because the perspective is better. 66% value the faster news. 61% say that blogs are more honest.
Speaking of blog demographics: Nick Denton, the creator of Gawker, Wonkette and the new Hollywood and L.A. site Defamer, sat for an interview this week with PR Week, telling the writer that the Gawker Media sites aim for a rather narrow population segment and giving public relations types advice on how to make better use of blogs. Some excerpts:
Q. Gawker, Gizmodo, etc. cultivate a sort of elitist mentality in whatever genre they cover. Was that intentional or did it developed organically?
A. The titles aren't aimed at the mass market. We have a very clear idea of what the Gawker audience is: 25-34, urban, early-adopter, and online- and media-savvy. It's not as if these people have stopped watching television. A lot of them just spend most of their days in front of a computer screen. I prefer to think of it as targeted media...
Q. Why is Defamer anonymous while Wonkette and Gawker are not? - BF, Los Angeles
A. That's because the editor of Defamer has worked in the industry.
Q. Finally, what advice would you give to PR people?
A. It would be useful for PR people to work more closely with advertising departments for a particular campaign. We get pitched by PR people who really ought to be advertising, and it's cheap to do so on weblogs. There are also certainly advertorial opportunities that cross the line between advertising and PR. The pitches need to be short and conversational. One line and a link to the press release is much more preferable to the press release. Such as, "I saw you wrote about Lord of the Rings, I thought you might be interested in this movie that is coming out this week." Invite webloggers to screenings. There's nothing a weblogger likes more than advanced notice and a chance to scoop the competition. Don't send attachments. It's hard for a writer to insult (or mock) a PR person if they sent a line and a link. It's only if the PR person invades the blogger's inbox with some ludicrous screed that they're likely to become a target.
Yes, more invitations to screenings and review copies of books are always good...