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January 06, 2005

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What is the Long Tail?:

» Wired 12.10: The Long Tail from Philippe Langlois weblog
Un article interessant sur le changement de mode de consommation qu'apporte une disponibilite planetaire de la culture. J'aurais bien aime qu'ils fassent un parallele avec le peer to peer qui etend ce concept meme si les aspects legaux ... [Read More]

» Google earnings from B12 Partners Solipsism
We've had these little google strips on B12 for several months, and I finally took a look at what they brought in. I threw out earlier statistics, because my site traffic was in the 10-20 hits per day range, and now is in the 50-100 range. Anyway, ave... [Read More]

» Wired 12.10: The Long Tail from Philippe Langlois weblog
Wired 12.10: The Long Tail Le blog officiel de Long Tail Definition... [Read More]

» Wired 12.10: The Long Tail from Philippe Langlois weblog
Un article interessant sur le changement de mode de consommation qu'apporte une disponibilite planetaire de la culture. J'aurais bien aime qu'ils fassent un parallele avec le peer to peer qui etend ce concept meme si les aspects legaux restent a etre ecla [Read More]

» The Long Tail from Emergent Strategies
Another way that technology has redefined the labels, concepts and vocabulary of strategy. The Long Tail is when technology makes it economic to offer a near infinite number of products. For instance, your average physical bookstore probably ca... [Read More]

» Science blogging and the Long Tail from nadya's basket
Coturnix of Science [Read More]

» Fox Finds Its Long Tail from FlikCents

-- Why watch a failing television show during its initial run when you can pay to watch it after it's canceled??? Fox says, Why the Hell Not?. And I have to tell you… I agree! According to an [Read More]

» Yahoo to acquire Six Apart? from The Internet Stock Blog
Six Apart, the owner of hosted blogging service TypePad and publisher of blogging software Moveable Type, just acquired LiveJournal. Within six months Six Apart itself will be acquired by Yahoo!. Here's why. [Read More]

» The Long Tail: What is the Long Tail? from Service info
"The Long Tail comprises the almost infinite variety of human interests and desires that mainstream offerings cannot fully satisfy.'" At least this is one of the many definitions. [Read More]

» but where is the photoblog? from Sticks of Fire
...unlimited by newsprint space constraints. Advertising on the site is directed at those in the long tail, and the original MSM report links to the blog. The blog ... [Read More]

» Blogging for Niches from How To Blog For Fun & Profit!
Interesting article I found via my colleague Steve Rubel of [Read More]

Comments

Mark

D comes closest for me. If you can stand a little advice from an old (but not yet grizzled) former newspaper editor: simplify, simplify, simplify.

Great idea, great blog. Every time I read it, it makes my head hurt (but in a good way).

Nick Douglas

E works best for me.

Mike

I vote for D. Seems the clearest, and the least "slogan" like.

Mike Kerrigan

I'd have to go for 'F'. All the definitions you offered explain how new technologies are allowing the Long Tail to be exploited without explaining the Long Tail itself. The Long Tail existed before there were more effective methods to satisfy (some) of the demand it contains. There's a reason why there's enough 80's hair band music around to fill a Tower Records music store; the music from bands that didn't achieve mainstream success still had enough of a following within the Long Tail to make producing an album or two seem worthwhile.

The Long Tail exists within a broad range of human interests. Arguably, everything from art through food tastes, even politics and religion have a Long Tail within them.

I don't know if I have a great definition for the Long Tail to offer, but since I've rejected the others, I should give it a shot:

'The Long Tail comprises the almost infinite variety of human interests and desires that mainstream offerings cannot fully satisfy.'

Rob Clark

When discussing the concept of The Long Tail with friends and associates, I've actually been using a phrase from your Dec. 23rd entry, "A small number times a very big number equals a big number".

It gets the point across immediately, and from there I can move on to talk about methods, technologies, variations and opportunities.

John Thacker

The Long Tail is (how technology is) combining the efficiency of mass production with the variety of custom craftsmanship, leading to everything being available to everyone.

dthree

None of those really resonate, since I have to agree with Kerrigan that they describe the technolgy better than the effect. I will give it a shot:

The long tail is the market sector that appears when a retailer uses new technology to simultaneously increase both the product selection and the potential customer base by an order of magnitude or more. This allows retailers to connect more customers to a wider variety of products, finding profitability in everything down to the least popular available.

dthree

I got a new one I think might be better:

Which is better, selling 1 Britney Spears CD to 1,000,000 people or selling 100,000 different, obscure CDs to 10 people each?

Jaxon Rice

I think the answer lies in the simple version of "D".

"The economics of abundance"

Al Abut

Rob Clark: "When discussing the concept of The Long Tail with friends and associates, I've actually been using a phrase from your Dec. 23rd entry, 'A small number times a very big number equals a big number'."

Good Lord, me too and I didn't even realizes that's where I lifted it from! That's the phrase I used when I blogged that the long tail effect wasn't just for buying stuff and that the private donations for the tsunami have been staggering just for this reason. And it neatly solves Mike Kerrigan's observation: "All the definitions you offered explain how new technologies are allowing the Long Tail to be exploited without explaining the Long Tail itself".

If you want even shorter and pithier (think like a marketer), how about "The Real New Economy" ;)

Jim Treacher

I think Don Henley said it best: "Everything, all the time."

Jim Treacher

(Life in the vast lane?)

ed nixon

All of the candidates containing "sub-economic" are non-starters for me. What does that mean?

And, did you know that something about your weblog software, my browser (Mozilla) and everything in between seems to disable the direction, Home and End keys in this window? Editing web forms is hard enought already.

Cheers. ...edN

Joshua Wood

I like D the best. I think of the Long Tail as Reaganomics in reverse. It Trickles Up.

NickL

Good comment. Trickle Up Economics is pretty good.

All your options above are too long, in my opinion.

Alan Levine

Sorr, but "F"... all the choices focus on marketing economics, when it is really a phenomena of networks.

But I guess in marketing a book that is the target.

Another Mark

I'd vote for a bumper sticker:

Your current logo (distribution graph showing long tail in yellow) with half of your text at (E) beneath it, "...how formerly sub-economic products and customers are suddenly becoming the biggest market of all."

Hyperlink this to an elevator pitch with links in turn to the Wired article and later book. Also add a backlink to the blog. I like (C) best as the beginning of the elevator pitch.

This way, when I drop the phrase "long tail" in an online conversation, I can easily give folks a way to drill down as deep as they want.

Thanks for thinking about this--I often come across websites with good ideas, but that just take too much digging before the audience can "get it".

Mark Wubben

My vote goes out to "A small number times a very big number equals a big number". It perfectly explains what the Long Tail is about... can't think of anything better.

Ed, the page has a rather long sidebar, so if you use the `End` button you'll go to the bottom of this sidebar, but you no longer see this post.

Zagrev

I have to agree that the current definitions talk about the why, not the what.

G) The Long Tail is the portion of the market (demand) that is not being served by the hit products.

Henrik Torstensson

I think that Zagrev's G) definition does a really good job explaining what The Long Tail is.

ken

I'd go with a variant of D, but shorter.

The long tail is:

"The efficiency of abundance."

Robert Young

Long Tail = Digital x Network (or Viral) Multiplier

Noah Brier

Lots of great ideas here. Here's my best shot, which tries to incorporate some of the comments people made. (I chose to include lots of different words because I'm not quite sure which to use.):

The Long Tail is the other 80 percent of information/data/goods/the world, which before digital technology was near-impossible to archive/store/sell/distribute effectively.

Hope that's useful.

Frank Ruscica

IMHO, you should focus on the benefit conferred, via an intuitive analogy.

One possibility:

The Long Tail: The Minor Leagues for The Rest Of Us.

Hmmm...

This is not really optimal, though, as it fails to capture the LT's profoundly inclusive and meritocratic nature...

Hope this helps...

kip

I like D, but it doesn't quite capture the idea that it's lots of little guys buying lots of little stuff. dthree nailed it:

I got a new one I think might be better:
Which is better, selling 1 Britney Spears CD to 1,000,000 people or selling 100,000 different, obscure CDs to 10 people each?
Posted by: dthree | January 6, 2005 11:42 PM

...and even then, it's (the collective power of) a hundred small companies selling a thousand cd's to ten people each.

Great blog, great concept, great read.

ps what kind of animal is a log?

Scott

I like option D best. Gotta have the word economics in there somewhere...

Noah Brier

Can't stop thinking about this, how does this one work?

The Long Tail is the story of how unlimited digital space has flipped traditional rules of hit-driven economies on its head.

Wrote more about it on my site: http://www.noahbrier.com/archives/2005/01/trying_to_answe.html.

Writing definitions is really hard.

Kirsten

A touch of "D", a touch of "F". I lean towards D because the scope seems wider than the others. I don't think of the Long Tail as being product-driven; for me it's more about information and networks than products and markets. Obviously information is a market, and the analogy applies equally well to all of it. But I prefer to think of it in broader terms. I'd rather see it realize its potential for education and knowledge exchange, rather than being exploited for yet more economics and marketing.

Jim Bursch

The long tail is that part of the economy that has always existed and has suddenly been "discovered" by a media that has been myopically focussed on the other end of the "tail".

Get over yourself.

Tom Kelley

I love this concept and have been telling anyone who will listen about it since the day the article came out. What I think's missing in options A thru D (though it's buried in C) is the concept of conquering distance. My suggestion would be something like "The Long Tail is about conquering the barriers of distance to serve widely dispersed micro markets that collectively rival the more concentrated mass markets."

Scott Knowles

for some reason "life in the vast lane" really does it for me (from Jim Treacher, above). That's the ad guy in me coming out ... so will probably be a headline somewhere before you know it. Jim, make sure you collect.

Nathan Howell

A. D is close, but A is (IMHO) a simpler, clearer version. Maybe some clever combination of the two could work.

Gary Potter

I'll check in with B adding that the while niches have smaller sweet spots, there are many more which makes the sweet spots easier to hit. My industry is travel and while we don't need shelf space for what sold, flexibility in packaging is very important.

Eric Etheridge

"The end of the 80/20 rule"

Tony Brice

B) is good within the product/sales realm of the concept. Because I agree, however, with Mike Kerrigan's comments from January 6 ('The Long Tail comprises the almost infinite variety of human interests and desires that mainstream offerings cannot fully satisfy), I have to go with F) as well.

How about the following --

The Long Tail represents the super-heterogeneity that flows from a limitless digital universe.

Mike Kerrigan

I really like the phrase that was offered above:

"A small number times a very big number equals a big number"

...although it's better used as an explanation of why the Long Tail is important rather than as a definition of the Long Tail itself.

Jim Bursch is right when he states that, "The long tail is that part of the economy that has always existed" but he's wrong to dismiss new found excitement over it. Chris is demonstrating how new technology is allowing people's desires to be better satisfied by products further down the Long Tail.

That said, I think my definition above is unsatisfactory because it describes why Long Tail exists rather than defining it. I love the phrase "moving people down the Long Tail" that Chris employs fairly often because it encapsulates the essence of what all attempts to exploit the Long Tail try to do.

The goal isn't to try to create new demand, but to try to better satisfy people's demands by connecting them with niche products that they either couldn't previously access (reducing delivery costs) or weren't aware of (reducing information costs). Any definition of the Long Tail should nicely pair with that phrase.

Here's an amended definition that I think goes a bit further towards properly describing the Long Tail:

"The Long Tail comprises the myriad of cultural and material products created to fulfill the human interests and desires that mainstream offerings cannot fully satisfy."

It could probably still use some work, but it makes sense in the previous contexts that the Long Tail has been used. Moving someone down the Long Tail is to shift away from the mainstream towards more obscure and niche products that will hopefully better satisfy their desires.

Brandon

Long tail - a technological phenomenon which enables the margins to eat the headline.

Greg

Zagrev's G) definition helps me with one problem that I had with your A) suggestion, namely that the word hits seemed particularly ambiguous to me. I have run into this problem when I read people commenting on your article in other blogs, they tend to use the word hits or hitters to refer to products, producers, consumers, number of views on a website etc. and often within the same article.

But saying hit products, removes that ambiguity by making it the attribue of a product, namely its popularity.

I think Noah Brier had a good idea too. I would put it like this:

Long Tail-The 80% of stuff that didn't used to be worth selling.


Bren

Mmmm... They all seem so...academic. So, F is my vote.

I like Ken's 'Efficiency of abundance' but maybe 'efficacy' is more descriptive than 'efficiency'? I'll also throw in these bumpersticker sized offerings:

The Long Tail: When small is big
The Long Tail: When a little is a lot

And this longer version:

"When more choices become available to more consumers, the net result is an effect that dwarfs any single blockbuster/charttopping/megahit/(insert your own adjective) offering."

Eric Spiegelman

How's this:

The “Long Tail” refers to that certain economic phenomenon, realized by internet retailers who can offer customers an infinite array of choices, when catering to low-demand, niche markets becomes more profitable than focusing on high-demand, popular goods.

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Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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Order the hardcover now!