Monday, February 27, 2006

Yaye Hates to be Paranoid, but...Umbria Listens

A week or so ago, on this very blog, I noticed that our right-hand sidebar was knocked down to the bottom of the main page because of an extra-long referral URL. This one:

I can usually identify the source of our referrals (the Blogger "Next Blog" button, Blogger Sign-in page, Blogher referrals, Google & Technorati searches, etc.). But I couldn't place this one, so I followed the link to investigate. I ended up at a blank white web page with no identifiers. Weird. So I shortened the URL to the root address .Com and found a sign-in page with the word "Umbria" in the corner and no other information. I found it odd, but decided not to pursue it further, until....

...that same URL showed up in our referrals yet again, knocking the sidebar to the bottom of the page. What IS this?

So I spent a few more minutes Googling different elements of the information until I found this article that reveals that we are being monitored by the Umbria Buzz Report:

Blog Measurement Company Refines Analytics

An excerpt: "Buzz Report, which monitors about 11 million blogs and 100,000 public message boards, already analyzes posts to determine writers' genders and ages. The new release will also measure such factors as geographic location, ethnicity, and income level."

Why and for whom are they measuring these factors? Marketers, of course! I found a Google link to Umbria's FAQ page:

An excerpt: "There are over 20 million bloggers and over 50 million blog readers (over 30% of the Internet population). They represent segments of the population with higher disposable income and higher education, and are important influencers relative to the general population. Observing what they are saying as it relates to your brand is an effective means of understanding your target market and recognizing early trends that may impact your business or agenda."

I've always known there's no such thing as a free lunch. We're just one big, burly focus group.


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