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The Long Tail is a book about SEO authored by Chris Anderson. He looks at the business concept of long-tail and how it has influenced the niche market. He has presented the idea of long-tail in a web e-commerce setting in an exciting way with broad examples stretching as far as the world of entertainment & music.
This business concept emphasizes selling a wide variety of relatively unpopular products. It contrasts with the traditional market setting where companies focus on selling a few popular products to generate revenue. The internet has contributed to this since search tools and technologies give buyers the power to find a wide variety of products. In addition, internet stores can hold an infinite number of products compared to physical stores, where there is a limit to the number of products stored.
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The Long Tail
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How The Market Of Niches Rivals The Market Of Hits - All the industries have an established demand curve where a few most valued products generate high demand, and many least-valued products generate low demand. The increased demand products form the head while the low demand ones from the curve's tail. The products at the head are perceived to generate more profit. However, with the concept of long-tail, businesses can offer various products that resonate with many small groups of people. A sufficient supply of these products in the niche market can compete with the market of hits. Another book about avoiding competition is Peter Thiel's Zero To One.
Effects Of Access To Content And Availability Of Distribution - Means easy access to content and availability of the means of distribution has the effect of fattening the tail. It is made possible by the existence of companies that collect a wide variety of goods and make them easy to find. These companies are referred to as aggregators. Examples of these aggregators include Amazon, eBay, iTunes and Craigslist. In addition, they provide the means of distribution since anyone searching for the products can find them. With this ease of searching and finding products, it becomes easier to sell them. The Third Wave is an important next book to read here. It gives even more insights to what is going to happen in the third wave of the internet era.
Cost-Effectiveness Of Internet Based Distribution - Long-tail economics makes it possible for niche market products to be sellable and profitable. The internet provides an unlimited shelf space and a wide variety of choices. This unlimited space offers lower advertising and inventory costs. On the other hand, an abundance of options allows one to satisfy many people's desires without incurring extra costs. It is worth hearing the story of Zappos choosing the shoe niche in Tony Hsieh's biography Delivering Happiness.
Effectiveness of Filtering Options - A wide variety of content and abundance of choice makes it difficult for consumers to find what they want. Filtering options come into play to help ease the process of finding products. The traditional market was driven by pre-filters, where sellers filtered products and content before hitting the market. The current market is dominated by post filters which filter what is already in the market. Consumers now can have full authority over what to buy, influenced by the experiences of other consumers. The make sure you are positioned well in your niche and showing up when you should on certain searches we recommend F#ck Content Marketing.
Effects of availability of means of production to everyone - Availability of means of production affects the supply and demand curves. When everyone has access to the means of production, there is a lot of content in the market, making the tail longer. With the ease of access to production, the production cost is almost zero. Therefore, much of the content is not driven by the concept of profitability but by fun and experimentation. Amateurs can now create content and distribute it with the available means of distribution. Perhaps the best book on this would be Lean Thinking. It shares ideas about how to innovate your company to be more efficient.
The first few chapters give an overview of what a long tail is, with chapter 2 focusing on the 'head' of the tail where the mega-hits are located. You’ll see the author analyze the music industry and how the availability of niche music has impacted the record sales for mega-hits. Boy bands broke records time and time again due to lack of availability. This changes when everyone can find anything they want.
Lastly there is a history of long-tail and provides examples of how the phenomenon was in play during the pre-internet era. In addition, it shows how the phenomenon increases with the increase in global internet usage.
The book then moves on to discuss the forces necessary to keep the long tail phenomenon in play and outlines how demand and supply relate to it. Thanks to the availability of information people can find anything they are looking for. This created a new market that results from the influence of the long tail, how the consumers find the products and services that suit their quest and how they are distributed. It discusses the long tail aggregators like Amazon who provide a distribution channel and ease of access to a wide range of products from a single place.
Availability of information also created an existence of new tastemakers in the market. The consumer's voice gains traction. People can find quality in products from the reviews and recommendations of other consumers. In addition, companies can now measure consumer tastes and patterns in real-time. This means that TV shows become secondary and primetime must compete with non-mainstream shows with low marketing budgets. It marked the start of a new niche era.
The book contrasts the long tail with the conventional Pareto principle, which holds that only 20 % of the products sold generate 80% of revenue. Companies give more attention to these few products and fail to cater to the diverse interests of consumers. In the long-tail retail strategies, the sales are spread out evenly between hits and niches, and companies can realize profits at all levels.
In the Long-Tail, the products live forever. Something retail store shelves can never offer. The rent per square foot of shelf space for books that don’t sell is just too high.
The long tail curve has a short head with a longer tail, but the head is much higher, with many consumers interested in a limited number of products. Anderson makes a point here about declining box-office hits that are threatened by niche offerings. This portion of the book discusses video's shift from television to the online space in great detail.
Other topics discussed in the book include the pros and cons of choice, niche culture that long tail creates, manufacturing and business space beyond entertainment, and outlines the rules that companies should follow to have a successful long-tail business concept.
Rather than competing for the masses attention, look for a small niche that few people are interested in and find scale through a large list of these things.
Chris Anderson, an author, entrepreneur, and CEO of 3D Robotics, has established himself around emerging technologies. Holding a degree in physics, he has also conducted research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His career begins with six years as an editor at two leading journals, Nature and Science. Anderson later joined The Columnist as a business editor. His story with the long tail concept began in 2004 when he wrote an article with the Wired, where he worked as an editor in chief. Chris later expanded the topic to the book The Long Tail in 2006. In addition, he has a blog, The Long Tail, which he updates regularly on issues surrounding his books.
Anderson has authored two more books, Free and Makers. Free discusses the advantages of initially giving products and services to the customers for free. The Makers discusses the democratization of invention and production tools which has revolutionized the impact of designers and inventors on the manufacturing industry. Chris Anderson is the founder and CEO of an open-source robotics company, 3D Robotics. In addition, he has founded other companies, such as GeekDad, which have been lost in the mists of time. Remarkably, he was named one of the 100 most influential people by the "Time 100" in April 2007. He has also acquired various awards, such as Editor of the Year by Ad Age in 2005 and the Loeb Award for Business Book of the Year in 2007.
Here are links to some podcasts Chris Anderson is involved in
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