20 Oct 2011 Review of Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
According to the author of this, the Google and its business model was influenced big time by the theory presented in this book. Originally the Author Chris Anderson presented it as an article in the magazine Wired, as Editor in Chief. And Google was back then in 2001 “just” the fastest growing search engine on the planet. For the record, Google borrowed the business model that was pioneered by Bill Gross few years earlier. And Google has built the most effective Long Tail advertising machine the world has ever seen. And if only because of that, this book is worth reading. A must read if you are interested in business models.
In short: Long Tail is “market” of millions of markets of dozens. Where market could be anything. Also something that author refers to like: “all-amateur, laptop culture”. Not written by the author of this book, but mentioned as the perfect example of Long Tail is on Wikipedia written definition of Long Tail.
Bottom line: a Long Tail is just culture unfiltered by economic scarcity. So, our culture is moving from a relatively small number of hits toward a huge number of niches in the tail. And this is what author explains in depth. Some cases being really interesting especially if you are not from USA but would like to learn something new about past decades in the States.
What enabled the Long Tail? + Democratisation of the production tools; + falling costs of consumption by democratised distribution; + connection between supply and demand.
Some more interesting details to me. Internet is about filtering. And we had filters even in pre-online times. Just we didn’t notice them. Author divides filters into pre-filtes and post-filters. Cases for the first are: editors, record label scouts, studio executives, department store buyers, marketers, advertisers and cases for the later are blogs, playlists, reviews (like the ones on Goodreads), customers, recommendations, consumers. In Long Tail all you need are effective filters. You should be able to find what you want as you move down the Tail to your “nichebusters” (by Eric Schonfeld).
Author also explains or better to say de-constructs some other generally accepted theories, rules or even myths. Like 80/20 Rule of Pareto/Zipf distributions. In economy this rule is used to explain that 20 % of products account for 80 % of revenues. Or more generally that 20 % of our time accounts for 80% of our productivity. Originally Pareto observed and calculated that in his times about 20 % of population owned 80 % of the wealth. And what has Long Tail to do it? Nothing. Just don’t be discouraged by this rule because the Long Tail does work. Because we live in online era where different (economic) rules apply. If you sold Top 20 ring-tones for 80 % of sales in the newspaper era, this felt to just 40 % of sales when users could search online from nearly 20.000 ring-tones online.
Others Long Tail ideas that might be of interest: + cool commercials you choose to watch; + presentations from conferences you wish you could have attended; + self-publishing market with BookSurge as leading print-on-demand business; + self-publishing as marketing vehicles to enhance your academic reputation, market your consultancy or earn you speaking fees or just leave your mark on the world; + services that aggregate only SEC filings. And did you know that ontology is a word that means different things in different disciplines?