The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, is a good read for any entrepreneur trying to understand the online marketplace where purchases (and sources of credible, and not so credible, information) are spurred by a review-driven, trust-the-masses-before-I-trust-myself, information overload, chaotic-but-quite-organized system.
The Long Tail blog is also a good resource. I liked the post about The Long Tail of Travel. As mentioned in the blog, online travel websites (such as Travelocity, Kayak, Priceline, etc.) offer many convenient features, such as lower search costs, word of mouth tools, peer ratings and reviews. Availability of these tools allows users to find new trips and take travel risks, based on opinions and past purchase history of others who use the website.
After a quick search on Kayak, I am stumbled across a 13-night Transatlantic European Cruise, valued at $499, with 5,127 customer reviews and an approval rating of 84%. WOW – great deal and people seem to approve. Before the ability to search for such deals, I would have never considered such a trip.
I notice The Long Tail when reading blogs online. Many times I start on a blog, click to a link to another blog, then click to a link to the Authors book, then to a related book on Amazon, and before I know it, I am indulging in some great content. Through lots of click-throughs, I am able to find what I’m looking for, and if desired, I am able to find a substantial amount of related content; I am able to dig down deep into the niche.
“Since nothing on the Web is authoritative, it’s up to you to consult enough sources so that you can make up your own mind. This is the end of spoon-fed orthodoxy and infallible institutions, and the rise of messy mosaics of information that require—and reward—investigation. The sixties told us to question authority, but they didn’t provide us with the tools to do so. Now we have those tools. The question today is how best to use them without becoming overwhelmed by uncertainty.” pg. 190-191
Basic building block of The Long Tail
- Exploration and innovation
“This encourages us to think for ourselves. Wikipedia is a starting point for exploring a topic, not the last word.” pg. 191
- Niches are notorious
“This is why niches are different. One person’s noise is another’s signal.” pg. 118
“…content that can resonate with an audience that has grown up online—the place where niches, not networks, rule.” pg. 81
- Cost and time effectiveness
“That’s the root calculus of the Long Tail: The lower the costs of selling, the more you can sell.” pg. 88
“From a consumer prospective, this highlights the advantages of all-you-can eat subscription services, which offer risk-free exploration down the Tail. You’re likely to consume more if it doesn’t cost you more to do so.” pg. 138
- Metadata driven
“With an estimated 15 million bloggers out there, the odds that a few will have something important and insightful to say are good and getting better. And as our filters improve, the odds that we’ll see them are getting better, too.” pg. 189
For more information
- The Long Tail, Wired, Oct. 2004
- Poking Holes In The Long Tail Theory, Tech Crunch, July 2008
- Tracking the Hits Along the Musical The Long Tail, Nielson Wire, Nov. 2009
- Spotify CEO: Twitter Is One of Our Biggest Traffic Sources, Mashable, Feb. 2010
- The Long Tail Of Video Sites Capture Half Of All Viewing Minutes, Tech Crunch, Feb. 2010