September 18th, 2006
I am familiar with the concept of long tail for months. But I have found time to read the original article printed by wired.com months, years back just now (I know that there is a published book available by now).
But it is better late than never. And I admit that I should have done it sooner. A few samples that illustrate the concept of long tail:
Chart Rhapsody’s monthly statistics and you get a “power law” demand curve that looks much like any record store’s, with huge appeal for the top tracks, tailing off quickly for less popular ones. But a really interesting thing happens once you dig below the top 40,000 tracks, which is about the amount of the fluid inventory (the albums carried that will eventually be sold) of the average real-world record store. Here, the Wal-Marts of the world go to zero – either they don’t carry any more CDs, or the few potential local takers for such fringy fare never find it or never even enter the store.
The Rhapsody demand, however, keeps going. Not only is every one of Rhapsody’s top 100,000 tracks streamed at least once each month, the same is true for its top 200,000, top 300,000, and top 400,000. As fast as Rhapsody adds tracks to its library, those songs find an audience, even if it’s just a few people a month, somewhere in the country.
And here is one more:
Just compare online and offline businesses: The average Blockbuster carries fewer than 3,000 DVDs. Yet a fifth of Netflix rentals are outside its top 3,000 titles. Rhapsody streams more songs each month beyond its top 10,000 than it does its top 10,000. In each case, the market that lies outside the reach of the physical retailer is big and getting bigger.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who’s something of a documentary buff, took this newfound clout to PBS, which had produced Daughter From Danang, a documentary about the children of US soldiers and Vietnamese women. In 2002, the film was nominated for an Oscar and was named best documentary at Sundance, but PBS had no plans to release it on DVD. Hastings offered to handle the manufacturing and distribution if PBS would make it available as a Netflix exclusive. Now Daughter From Danang consistently ranks in the top 15 on Netflix documentary charts. That amounts to a market of tens of thousands of documentary renters that did not otherwise exist.
There are any number of equally attractive genres and subgenres neglected by the traditional DVD channels: foreign films, anime, independent movies, British television dramas, old American TV sitcoms. These underserved markets make up a big chunk of Netflix rentals. Bollywood alone accounts for nearly 100,000 rentals each month. The availability of offbeat content drives new customers to Netflix – and anything that cuts the cost of customer acquisition is gold for a subscription business. Thus the company’s first lesson: Embrace niches.
RULE 1: make everything available
RULE 2: cut the price in half
RULE 3: help me find it
Summary: How can an average online entrepreneur make use of long tail concept? It is not easy to figure out, but depends on your website niche. The article gives fantastic samples for online music and movie dealers.
I run a relatively new rock music website that fits this long tail idea perfectly. It offers digital music as an affiliate of iTunes, now I try to figure out how to promote the music of unsigned bands – long tail (MySpace has recently announced their intention to sell downloadale music of unsigned bands – so, I have very powerful competitors in my niche. I am kidding – certainly, I can’t compete with MySpace, but need to find my small niche).
The long tail concept author states that it is applicable for the media and entertainment industries. So, it is not universal. I wish it were. But I am sure that this concept requires hours and hours of contemplation – how to make it work for your projects.
[tags]long tail, social bookmarking, web 2.0, domain names, links buying, myspace, seo, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, blogs, content generation, make money online, work from home, home based job, earn your living online[/tags]