The Long Tail

The secret to creating a thriving Long Tail business can be summarized in two imperatives:

  1. Make everything available.
  2. Help me find it.

The first is easier said than done.
Fewer than a dozen of the 6.000 films submitted to the Sundance Film Festival each year are picked up for distribution, but most of the rest of them cannot be legally shown outside of a festival because their music rights have not been cleared.

Likewise most of the TV programming in the network’s archives: it is too expensive to clear the DVD or streaming distribution rights to the music.¬†Similar rights issues also keep classic music and video games under lock and key.

Until we have some way to clear the rights to all the titles in all the back catalogs–thoughtlessly, automatically, and at industrial scale–legal restrictions will continue to block the growth of the Long Tail.

The second necessary element is moving more quickly.

From collaborative filtering to user ratings, smart aggregators are using recommendations to drive drive demand down the Long Tail. This is the difference between push and pull, between broadcast and personalized taste.

Long Tail businesses treat consumers as individuals, offering mass customization as an alternative to mass-market fare.

For the Entertainment industry, recommendations are a remarkably efficient form of marketing, allowing smaller films and less mainstream music to find an audience.

For consumers, the simplified choice that comes following a good recommendation encourages exploration and can reawaken passions for music and film, potentially creating a far larger market overall.

The collateral cultural benefit is much more diversity, reversing the blanding effects of a century of distribution scarcity and ending the tyranny of the hit centric culture.

Now that you’ve got the big picture, here are nine rules of successful Log Tail aggregators:

1. Move inventory way in … or way out

2. Let the customer do the work

3. One distribution method doesn’t fit all

4. One product doesn’t fit all

5. One price doesn’t fit all

6. Share information (lose control)

7. Think “AND”, not “OR” (think inclusive, not alternative)

8. Trust the market to do your job

9. Understand the power of free

From The Long Tail, Chris Anderson

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5 comments

  1. Is hard to imagine the future of society without the inclusion of new tools for productivity improvement. In one end, bosses were think about the increase of the human factor productivity. In the other end, businesses need a common ground for reaching customers worldwide, offering everything available to every single customer, allowing the search of the optimal choice and expanded purchase experience. Humans have a hard time finding the exact match to a specific need. Sometimes we take a choice only because are tired of searching.

    Today, with the introduction of the internet and the world wide web, humans can think of a better and more complete purchase experience. Through specific forums, friends recommendations and peer evaluation, society started the information age sharing and broadcasting opinion, experience and tastes.

    At the same time some of the basics of marketing and sales are still the rule for quality and acceptance, only now every player, from home made to industrial scale, can take a piece of the world market, being exposed to the prize and consequence of dealing with different niche markets formed all over the web.

    It is going to be as natural as slow and irreversible, new generations come with the need of sharing, not afraid of self expression and trained to survive and thrive in the digital channel. The 21st century citizen will urge to information and autonomy in the decision process.

    Just a little change can make all the difference, until the next wave of change.

    You might be asking yourself: What this wacko is talking about?

    Basically, I’m talking about the future, and how people are going to deal with brands and the purchase experience in the next 10 years, but also talking about some of the shifts our society is suffering right now. All of this is happening right now, but in the first half of the century we can only see the starting effects of the paradigm change caused by the Digital Revolution, or the beginning of the Information Age.

    The Long Tail is one of the very effects of the new paradigm.

    Soon–doesn’t matter how soon– every market and every device is going to interact with the web, and in this course, our infrastructure, as well as the entire social layer, are going to suffer deep changes; government, laws, institutions, education, identity and our understand of values and mission.

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