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Author Topic: The Long Tail and it's Doubters  (Read 6660 times)
mouser
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« on: July 26, 2006, 06:51:16 PM »

The Long Tail is a provactive book (based on an article by a Wired magazine editor), that talks about the new abilities for sellers to focus on (and make profit on) the items farther away from majority appeal.

See:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401302378

From a review of the book:
Quote
The long tail is the colloquial name for a long-known feature of statistical distributions that is also known as "heavy tails", "power-law tails" or "Pareto tails". In these distributions a high-frequency or high-amplitude population is followed by a low-frequency or low-amplitude population which gradually "tails off". In many cases the infrequent or low-amplitude events--the long tail--can cumulatively outnumber or outweigh the initial portion of the graph, such that in aggregate they comprise the majority. In this book the author explains how due to changing technology it is now not only feasible but desirable in business to cater to the "long tail" of this curve.

The author explains how in traditional retail, you have the 80/20 rule, with 20 percent of the products accounting for 80 percent of the revenue. Online, instead, he sees the "98 percent rule." Where 98 percent of all the possible choices get chosen by someone, and where the 90 percent that is only available online accounts for half the revenue and two-thirds of the profits. He also explains how filters and recommender systems that help people find what they are really looking for are crucial ingredients. Thus, in a nutshell, Anderson's theory is that mass culture is fading, and being replaced by a series of niches. Thus the subtitle of his book, "Why The Future of Business Is Selling Less of More."


Today the wall street journal posted an interesting rebuttal opinion piece:
http://online.wsj.com/pub...SB115387606762117314.html

Both the original article and rebuttal are well worth a read.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2006, 06:54:20 PM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 10:45:58 AM »

some follow ups well worth reading:

http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc...6/07/arguing_about_t.html
http://www.longtail.com/t...6/07/factchecking_my.html


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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 12:10:59 PM »

more:
http://www.roughtype.com/...06/07/lee_gomes_respo.php
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JavaJones
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2006, 01:05:57 AM »

Why does it have to be one or the other? Cater to both, get the whole market. cheesy

- Oshyan
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housetier
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2006, 04:56:30 AM »

Let's play with words a little. It won't be sound at all so don't get worked up over it.

We pick a
Quote
The Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.
This could mean you have fewer customers to which you provide more services. When we take that to extremes, you might have 1 (one) customer only, for whom you do everything. "Customer" of course means someone you give something (in this case almost everything) to, and from whom you get something else in return, money maybe. (Is your head spinning fast enough yet?)

Now, to entirely depend on one person only means you either have an extremely close relationship (child-parent) or you are a slave and master. (NOW I got yer heads in a spin, right?)

By now you are wondering where the connection to the original post is. When we accept the stretches and re-definitions of words and put them back into the original quote, we could say:
Quote
The Future of Business is Slavery.

 Wink cheesy tongue
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2006, 04:00:30 AM »

more blogs about it:

http://www.shmula.com/162/the-long-tail-ad-nauseum
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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2008, 12:25:10 PM »

A really important essay on the problem with the Long Tail from a content *creator's* standpoint:

http://www.kk.org/thetech...08/07/wagging_the_lon.php

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ljbirns
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2008, 11:18:41 AM »

 In my view the vast majority of sales, whether "brick and morter" or through the web are for  actual physical things.  Thus the theory that shelf space limits what is available doesn't hold water.  The web based retailer has to buy  inventory  and store and ship the " thing" . The only credible part to the theory that I see is that the web based seller  MAY be able to buy less of an item since the web based retailer has only one location ( say he sells only 24 pcs per year ) while the chain store needs 6 per store x 1000 stores.  Thus there are some slow sellers , ( generally niche items ) availalble only on the web but they account for only a very small portion of total sales and profits.  When  and if content and services start to account for more sales than 
"things "  the long tail theory may become valid.

And in 40 years in the retail business I never heard of the 80 / 20 rule.
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Lew
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2008, 02:22:59 PM »

Once again, somebody from Wired has put old wine in a new bottle and called it something cute in order for it to be the perfect soundbite. (Charlie Rose - are you listening?)

The long tail's basic premise is that the key to future business profitability is to "find a small enough pond to be a big fish in" as the saying goes.

Where have we heard that before?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 02:42:51 PM by 40hz » Logged

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app103
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2008, 09:40:47 PM »

I think the current buzz phrase is "niche marketing".
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Renegade
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2008, 11:24:18 PM »

Niche vs. long tail is slightly different depending on the context. Generally niche refers to a small market, but then again, in a large market place with tens of thousands of products (e.g. any download site), even products with broad appeal are shuffled into the "long tail" and only the top performers get any front page exposure. You can certainly use them interchangeably though in many contexts.
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