WHAT THEY ARE: Listings of the most popular blogs and bloggers on the Web, crafted and divined in a variety of ways from Technorati's Top 100, measured by unique links over six months, to Blogebrity's gag list of A-, B- and C-listers with no science, but plenty of cheek and wit.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: True, the lists can tend to be a bit like insider baseball; if you don't play or watch, who cares? But blog listings generate traffic and more importantly can help novices (or time-crunched execs) sort out who's who in the blogging world. Some of the most popular popularity watchers include: the Technorati and Blogebrity lists mentioned above; CNET's News.com Blog 100, a user-inspired, unnumbered, and occasionally updated list; BlogPulse.com's daily ranking of the Top 40 (run by Intelliseek); the Feedster 500 monthly ranking of the "most interesting and important" blogs; Daypop Top 100 with a complex but impressively intelligent-sounding methodology; The Truth Laid Bear's pure traffic ranking up to 5,000 (yes, 5000);and the Top 43 Best Blogs Wiki with its odd number and totally democratic user-changeable list. And that doesn't begin to include smaller lists and more specialized ones ranking top RSS feeds or blogs added to favorites' lists.
WHO'S USING IT?: Bloggers, to be sure, seem the most interested in debating, discussing and linking to the lists. A recent New York Magazine article mused, "Much as in high school, C-listers quickly suspect the deck is stacked against them, and the bitterness flows like cheap wine." Yet get past the internal sniping, and you'll find marketers, and their media buyers also watching. A No. 1 blog may have little in common with a No. 1 "American Idol" TV program, but both can fit into the media plan for the same marketer. For instance, Engadget, a blog about tech gizmos and on most everyone's "top dog" list, is currently running an Ask.com banner (CPMs on Engadget range from $6 to $15), at the same time as polished :30 TV spots air on popular and expensive prime-time shows like ABC's "Lost." Marketers such as Audi, Microsoft, Dreamworks, General Motors and Verizon hit the blog rolls as regularly as the airwaves.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The lists are good places to begin for ideas about which blogs to read -- although, like The New York Times bestseller list, take them with grain of salt. They can also provide solid leads in the search for hot online advertising spots. Best of all, they make for great, free WOM buzz. If you make the list, that is.