In previous posts I have stated the conventional wisdom that blogs are a tough sell as ad sponsored media goes. Unless you have a celebrity blogger or are blogging against an important event, ad sponsorships are hard to sell. In those cases, it can be argued, the celebrity and the event are bringing in the value, not so much the blogging itself.
But now comes evidence that blogging may have value in it's own right. A study from BuzzLogic and JupiterResearch that focused on the behavior of heavy blog readers finds them relying on blogs for information previously thought to be in the benefit list of search and buyers guides. From the study:
"Blog readers do not appear to rely as heavily on search as a means to find new blogs as compared to consumers of traditional online media. According to the survey, one in five general blog readers (defined as consumers who have read a blog in the past 12 months) use blog links to discover new blogs. Further, the study suggests blogs are not consumed in isolation, but experienced as part of a connected conversation – nearly half (49 percent) of blog readers and 71 percent of frequent readers read more than one blog per session. Key findings include:
• Links more powerful than search: For frequent readers, links beat search as a navigation tool: 38 percent said blog links were the top tool for discovering new blog content as compared to 34 percent who voted for Web search.
• Links signal trust: For frequent readers, blog links appear to have similar impact as a trusted recommendation from a person (a response from 39 percent of survey participants).
• Blog search not yet mainstream: Blog search engines received the lowest ranking from respondents: 6 percent of general readers and 11 percent of frequent readers say they use these tools to discover new blogs.
Buying Behavior: The Nature of Blog Influence
• Blogs influence purchases: One half (50 percent) of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information.
• Blogs sway more purchases among readers than social networks: More frequent blog readers say they trust relevant blog content for purchase decisions than content from social networking sites.
• Niche focus ups influence factor: For those who have found blog content useful for product decisions, more than half (56 percent) said blogs with a niche focus and topical expertise were key sources.
• Blogs go beyond tech: Outside of technology-related purchases, for which 31 percent of readers say blogs are useful, other key categories include media and entertainment (15 percent); games/toys and/or sporting goods (14 percent); travel (12 percent); automotive (11 percent); and health (10 percent).
It’s Buy Time: Where Blogs Sit in the Purchase Cycle
According to the study, blogs factor in to critical stages of the purchase process, weighing most heavily at the actual moment of a purchase decision. When it comes to respondents who said they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52 percent) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase.
Blog readers also replied around blogs’ influence as it relates to the following steps of the purchase process:
• Decide on a product or service: 21 percent
• Refine choices: 19 percent
• Get support and answers: 19 percent
• Discover products and services: 17 percent
• Assure: 14 percent
• Inspire a purchase: 13 percent
• Execute a purchase: 7 percent
This story has some traction, here is a link to a short summary of the that study ran in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/22drill.html?_r=1
Read the entire Buzz Logic press release: