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May 05, 2008

Data chart of the week: international blog and user-generated video participation

by Josh Bernoff

In today's post we're showing off our international data capabilities with some data about participation in creating and consuming content in different geographies. This is the first table in Chapter 2 of Groundswell.

Groundswell table 2-1

I find it amazing what a high degree of variability there is in this data. Note that this reflects percentage of online consumers only. These surveys were done between March and September of 2007.

The blog readership and commenting numbers in Japan and South Korea area astounding. I believe this is where North America is going. I'm at a loss to explain the relatively low level of participation in Germany  and the UK -- any ideas on why this is happening? In the UK, I don't know of any cultural reason why online participants should be reticent to read blogs -- I expect this to reach par with the US (or it may already have done so).

It's an interesting pattern that approximately half of those who read blogs comment on them, with somewhat fewer writing. I'd love to know why readership of blogs is higher in Japan, but writing blogs is more common in South Korea.

The US is the clear leader in both creation and viewing of user-generated video, which is at least partly due to the fact that YouTube is mostly in English. (I refuse to believe we have more idiots making idiotic video in the U.S. -- we don't have a way to survey that!) Given the very high bandwidth available in Japan and Korea I would have expected higher participation there -- is this cultural, or is it because there is more production quality video (on-line television) in these geographies?

Podcasts still haven't caught on the US after years of availability. And they're non-existent in Korea. I am skeptical that these numbers will increase significantly in the U.S. or that other parts of the world will surpass the U.S. number.

One note: we use different survey methodologies around the world (for example, what you see here came from mail surveys in Europe and online surveys in the U.S.) Also, the surveys were not taken in the same month. So direct comparisons are subject to significant variation that's not explained by geography.

If you found this data interesting, you can learn more. We have social technographic profiles from around the world available free. And clients can get access to all of our survey data.


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I am writing this in Vienna, Austria, where blogs are read by even fewer people than in Germany. Why? I think it is a combination of different factors:

a) traditional media outlets do not really support or feature individual bloggers
b) institutions and companies do not cater to bloggers
c) there are (almost) no important CEOs that blog, thus there is no role model effect
c) that is why the media does not pick up on it, one of the reasons being that
d) the German-speaking "blogosphere" has no figurehead, unlike in the US where you had Scoble, Schwartz and so on.
e) there simply is no momentum.

Just my two cents. Please note, a current online-study conducted by Fittkau & Maß http://www.fittkaumaass.de/company/pressemitteilungen claims 45% of all German internet users read blogs.


The apparent apathy in UK public may have a simple answer:

The BBC produces great TV and radio.

Their traditional media are not nearly as untrustworthy as their american similar.

It's difficult to grok everywhere else if you come from a different culture, where TV is directly associated with rubbish commercials, and you go to extremes developing new technology to avoid them. (Tivo). I haven't checked but I wouldn't be surprised if Tivo sales in the UK are much lower than in the US.
Also the UK people have a different sense of privacy than american people, private video sharing would work better for them than video broadcasting services like Youtube.

Jeff Lippold

Re: Japanese blog readership.
The blog readership in Japan might be high in part because of the pervasiveness of personal journals (both on the web and mobile) and the fact that Mixi and other SNS' use blogging features as part of the service and may lead to a skewed result. In addition, a lot of news services (such as "Iza" news) incorporate blogs along with their news services, making it almost impossible to tell them apart. I don't imagine that "spam" (aka link piles) blogs are read and likely not included in your survey, but they make up a big chunk of the total blogs as well.

Jeff Lippold

And to answer your comments, about online video and podcasts in Japan - not to do shameless promotion but we've looked into that phenomenon on our corporate blog - most of it is fairly recent and still relevant, in my (humble) opinion. We're planning a similar look at blogs in the coming weeks so hopefully that answers some questions, as well.


nice work .good job and keep updatsss

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