Aggregator Market Share, User Behavior, and Revenue Models

Richard MacManus has been trying to figure out aggregator market share based on stats from his own blog. It’s really interesting reading, and the comments are very good as well. He puts Bloglines at 50% of the aggregator market, although he implies (and I agree) that hard numbers are difficult to come by.

Seperately, a lot can be gleaned from the live traffic stats that BoingBoing publishes. Kirk Scott ran the numbers, and he came up with the following. BoingBoing is the 3rd most popular feed on Bloglines, with 13,533 subscribers as of this morning. In the “Connect to site from” section of BoingBoing’s stats report, the stats show that 90% of all traffic is directly linked from a bookmark or URL. Of the remaining 10% that is referred to BoingBoing, Bloglines is delivering more than 2.7x the number of hits than Google.

Referrals from search engines:

  Pages Percent Hits Percent
Google 277780 51.5 % 291357 51.4 %
Yahoo 216005 40 % 225746 39.8 %

Referrals from other sites: (Bloglines has 13 entries in this list)

  Pages Percent Hits Percent
display 19662 4.4 % 660776 32%
display 3390 0.7 % 114402 5.5%
topblog 1559 0.3 % 1559 0 %
recs 236 0 % 236 0 %
toplink 231 0 % 231 0 %
search 165 0 % 165 0 %
topblog 159 0 % 210 0 %
related 146 0 % 146 0 %
preview 103 0 % 3697 0.1 %
subs 58 0 % 60 0 %
cites 53 0 % 53 0 %
public 53 0 % 3248 0.1 %
myblog 53 0 % 54 54
  —-   —-  
  25868   784837  

What this tells us is that Google, through search, delivers more page views on BoingBoing than Bloglines, but Bloglines audience share is 2.7x larger than Google’s in the number of overall impressions.

The hit count (images retrieved) show that many more people are reading the content on Bloglines, and relatively few clicking through to the site. Even so, our clickthrough rate is higher than any other site with the exception of Google and Yahoo! search.

Nutshell: Bloglines is the 3rd largest source of referring pageviews on BoingBoing, and the largest generator of referring hits to BoingBoing content, larger than Yahoo! and Google — and all other search engines — combined. Bloglines generates 30% of all referring hits to BoingBoing.

In another post, Richard MacManus points to a blog post by Jupiter Research analyst Eric Peterson based on a conversation Eric and I had last week. Eric was interested in the business model behind Bloglines. Not accepting my usual stock answer of “Volume!”, I detailed that we will integrating highly targetted contextual advertising into Bloglines next year, or “Adwords on Steroids” as Eric puts it (I like that description!). To reiterate what I told Eric, when we do start to roll out advertising, we will be very sensitive to user feedback, and we will be looking to our users to help guide us in this area.

Back to Richard’s commentary on Eric’s post, Richard says “Bloglines currently has only a fraction of the quantity of users that Google has”. True enough. But if you look at the number of hits BoingBoing is seeing (as detailed above), Bloglines has the #1 share of any site. We certainly drive fewer single-visit unique visitors, but based on these numbers, we are the largest source of repeat visitors, which are the most valuable kind of audience to have. These numbers highlight just how sticky an aggregator is; we have incredibly high page view per user numbers and active unique numbers.

It’s fascinating to examine all of these stats, and we’re grateful that BoingBoing provides a live glimpse into the traffic on one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. On our end, Bloglines currently only provides subscriber counts to publishers. What other statistics, demographics or bits of information do publishers want from us about the traffic we’re aggregating?