The Future of the Blawging Market
A recent Gallup report (download now when while it is free, or get the summary here) has found that blog traffic has finally leveled off. From the synopsis: “[B]log readership hasn’t increased over the past year or so, even though Americans are spending more time online.”
What does this mean for blawgs? As we demonstrated here at the Co-Op through our law professor blawging census series, the supply of blawgs increased over 55% last year (that is, 55% alone from June through November) and has continued to grow since then. But that supply doesn’t tell us much about the size of the blawg audience (as a subset of the blog audience). An anecdotal look at the 12-month traffic at established sites like the Conglomerate, Prawfs, Is That Legal, and Prof. Bainbridge suggests that traffic has either leveled off or has declined from highs in the early fall, while the VC and Balkin continue to grow. Of course, both growth and decline in absolute traffic numbers doesn’t tell us if the universe of blawg readers is growing — we may be simply slicing the market up differently, or encouraging a fixed set of readers to spend more of their time looking at different blawgs.
At some point, I suppose, this bubble will have to burst. (Although I find it encouraging that we here at the Co-Op are beginning to tap the non-US market.) When traffic flattens or declines, I predict (again) a merger wave between sites perceiving potential intellectual, creative and social synergies. Will a handful of super blawgs end up dominating the marketplace? Time will tell.