MyBlogLog: The social networking company wants to profile your traffic

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Here comes MyBlogLog, with yet another social networking offering: A promise to let bloggers make more money by letting them see their users and their preferences.

It is the latest company of Scott Rafer, former chief executive of Feedster. So far his team has boot-strapped. He wants to launch it before raising capital.

Existing online marketing companies, from Revenue Science to Tacoda and 24/7 Real Media do pretty intense tracking of surfing behavior across sites. They say their info lets advertisers and publishers predict user preferences. MyBlogLog, Rafer says, doesn’t hope to match the “black magic” behavioral math of these sites. Rather, MyBlogLog starts by serving the blogger, and doing what those others can’t: build actual profiles of your readers.

For sure, MyBlogLog wants to track your behavior anonymously across the sites in its network. But it also wants to build your profile, mug and all — based on an “opt-in” process. MyBlogLog will go live in a few days, but it has been testing for several months.

Here’s how it works. First, it lets readers sign up at the MyBlogLog (currently a test site), and choose to be associated with one of the 19,000 registered bloggers so far its stable. In the example below (click on partial screenshot), Eric has chosen AVC as one of the blogs he likes. If he also selects SiliconBeat as a blog, MyBlogLog can register that fact, and help both AVC and SiliconBeat find out more about Eric as he surfs our sites.

Second, Eric can select friends in his network, just like he does at MySpace or any other social networking site. This idea is less important to MyBlogLog’s mission, but lets Eric see other blogs his friends are surfing. If he signs up to those blogs, MyBlogLog has even more ways to track Eric’s preferences.

MyBlogLog collects knowledge about surfing behavior by giving bloggers a piece of code to put on their blog. This places a cookie on the browser of readers like Eric. And this gives bloggers eyes into their network they didn’t have before. MyBlogLog can track which articles readers think are hot, which other blogs reader frequent, and other detailed information about readers’ site-hopping behavior (helpful, for example, if bloggers want to approach advertisers with this information).

(Update: The question arises, why would readers volunteer to participate in such a system? Wouldn’t only a tiny subset, i.e, the very loyal, sign up? Rafer responds in comments below. So far, his data shows people liberally signing up to affiliate themselves with blogging communities, he told us. They “want a published connection with the blogger and the reflected glory of that affiliation.” he added.)

Rafer joined MyBlogLog’s founders Eric Marcoullier and Todd Sampson earlier this year, but the company has been working on the idea since March 2005.

We aren’t sure how crucial MyBlogLog’s info will be to us, and whether we will pay for it. We’ll try out the stats over the next few days, and report back our findings. MyBlogLog gives us daily information (as in, yesterday’s) for free, but MyBlogLog charges $3/mth (or $25/yr) for real-time reports. In late summer, a third option for more stats will be available, Rafer tells us. Even if some bloggers don’t find it indispensable, blog advertising networks, for example FM Publishing, may want the information, he said.

Already the Gawker network of sites is putting MyBlogLog’s javascript on its blogs. (Rafer says his system is tracking up to two-thirds of the entire celebrity-gossip blog traffic in the US.) His system is tracking five million readers, done anonymously through the cookies. Meanwhile, 1,000 people have registered their profiles at MyBlogLog’s test site. With the launch at the end of this week, bloggers wanting to check their MyBlogLog statistics will be redirected to a registration page to build a profile. This could bring MyBlogLog up to 19,000 more profiles.

The more profiles, the more insight bloggers get about their users. Rafer says he wants to get 1 million profiles; that’ll make the data interesting, he says.

Rafer has had a great stealth start. We’ll see just how much bloggers like it.