“As we get deeper into filters and how they work, it helps to get an overview of their many types.
Let’s start with music.
Here are some of the many different filter types a typical user on Rhapsody might encounter in a single session as she or he looks for new music.
From the front page, a user might start with category, wich is a form of a multi-level taxonomy.
Let’s say you begin in Alternative/Punk and then choose the subgenre Punk Funk. In that category, there’s a best-seller list, wich is led by Bloc Party… If you click on Block Party, you’ll find that pattern matching has created a list of related artists, wich includes the Gang of Four. A click on that produces the list of “followers”, wich is a form of editor recommendation (you may also be pesuaded by the editorial review).
Among those Gang of Four followers is the Rapture. Click on that, and if you like it, try a custom radio station tailored around that artist, wich is a stream of songs by the Rapture and bands that other people who like the Raptor also like, wich is a form of collaborative filtering. As you listen to that custom stream, you may find that among the bands that play, the one you like the best is LCD Soundsystem. Click on that, listen for a while, and when you are hungry for something new, try a playlist that features the band…
A half dozen recommendation techniques have taken you from punk to soul, from the middle of the Head to the bottom of the Tail, and every step along the way made sense.” (pg 110)
Visit The Long Tail blog, at Wired.com
In this particular text, Mr. Anderson cite some of the recommendation strategies widely available in digital channels to guide specific customers in their search for specific content. Nothing can satisfy everyone, as repetitive as it sounds, a new paradigm has been broken in the digital age, one where people can find any content anytime during their searching experience. Our world is changing from a mass market, where everyone has to drink from the same small number of sources, to a mass of niches, where different people from different backgrounds compete for users attention.
The digital search process is more clear, simple, faster, traceable and can offer a few or a lot of recommendations from your peers, people you know from daily life, and as better backed as this process proven itself, more satisfied a customer can feel when taking a buying decision.
We talked about the following recommendation techniques: best-seller list, pattern matching, editor review, collaborative filtering and playlist, clearly guiding you from the head to the bottom of the almost infinite music content vs sales curve.
The best-sellers are purely the head of the sales curve, pattern matching can take you a step further off the mainstream (if you were there), and editor’s review can take you a step back, once again, depending on where you really is, but collaborative filtering can be a very, very niche experience, referring to some specific content and showing you the real taste of the ones that share this particular interest with you (music in this example).
All this based on the over increased number of volume offers and search power provided by the infinite shelve space that only the digital market is able to offer. No real world store can offer the same amount of tracks, albums and artists a virtual retailer such as Amazon.com can offer you with no inventory costs.
Get digital to survive, or else your business is over in 5 years.
An exemple of a Long Tail, caught on Google Images: