In our ongoing review of the phenomenally successful book, The Long Tail, we both thought long and hard about Anderson’s theory in respect of why we personally have decided to blog and podcast. As we see it, consistent with our general philosophy that providing quality content is the best way to demonstrate our own professional abilities, The Long Tail considers our approach to business development with Anderson providing some interesting insight on the topic.
At page 73 of The Long Tail, Anderson asks "Why do they do it?" Why does anyone create something of value without a business plan or even the prospect of a pay cheque? This question is a key to understanding The Long Tail, partly because so much of what populates the curve does not start with commercial aim. In fact, as we have thought for some time, the traditional business model needs to be reworked and we personally avoid the one-hit wonder approach to our business plan. Anderson goes on to explain this idea at page 74 of his book, when he cites Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor, who calls this phenomenon (at page 74 of his book) "exposure culture", pointing to blogging as an example:
The exposure culture reflects the philosophy of the Web, in which getting noticed is everything. Web authors link to each other, quote liberally, and sometimes annotate entire articles. E-mailing links to favourite articles and jokes has become as much a part of American work culture as the water cooler. The big sin in exposure culture is not copying, but instead failure to properly attribute authorship. At the centre of this exposure culture is the almighty search engine. If your site is easy to find on Google, you don’t sue – you celebrate.
We have provided at www.hullandhull.com a variety of articles that our firm has written over the years, plus a tremendous amount of resources in respect of articles that have been written by others. Futhermore, Ian and I believe that our new webpage (which will be arriving shortly) and our blogposts and podcasts only further demonstrate our commitment to always providing good content.
All the best, Suzana and Ian.
At page 52 of his book, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson sums up his theory as follows: our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) which constitute the head of the demand curve, and moving interest toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Anderson indicates that there are six themes of The Long Tail:
1. There are far more niche goods than hits.
2. The costs of reaching those niches is now falling dramatically.
3. Search techniques and the range of tools for ranking effectively filter the mass of products and enable customers to find what they desire, driving demand down the tail.
4. The demand curve eventually flattens. There are still hits and niches, but in less extremes.
5. There are so many niche products that, collectively, they can comprise a market rivalling the hits.
6. The natural shape of demand is revealed and it is far less hit-driven than we have been led to believe. Instead, it is as diverse as the population itself. In an effort to better understand this recent trend, Anderson highlights a speech given by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in 2005. Murdoch proclaimed:
Young people don’t want to rely on a Godlike figure from above to tell them what’s important…They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it.
Murdoch’s speech led Anderson to note that this positive change in our culture can be explained by the phenomenen of the Long Tail, where we can all be creators and producers of our own niche products. More on this in tommorrow’s blog.
Thanks, Ian and Suzana.
Following yesterday’s discussion regarding the definition of "The Long Tail", we were interested in Anderson’s analysis of this term by use of a creative analogy: imagine today’s culture as if it were an ocean and the only features which can rise above the surface of the water are islands of blockbuster hits. We must thus imagine the water line as the economic threshold or the amount of sales necessary to satisfy the distribution channels. The islands represent the products that are popular enough to rise above that line, and thus profitable enough to be offered through distribution channels with scarce capacity, which is to say the shelf space demands dictated by the most powerful retailers.
However, these islands are, of course, just the tips of a vast undersea mountain. With the new shape of cultural commerce and the Internet’s increasingly extraordinary economic efficiencies, niche products, previously submerged under the water, can now be recognized and found through the use of powerful search engines. This abundance of niche products which exist beneath the surface, therefore, has the capability to become a larger economy than the small one which has risen above the water. We will continue our discussion of Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail in tomorrow’s blog.
Thanks, Ian and Suzana.
This summer, we had the pleasure of reading several interesting books; the one that had the most profound effect on us, however, was Chris Anderson’s book entitled The Long Tail.
We note from the outset of the book that Anderson’s theory was essentially developed out of a 2004 conversation that he had with a friend of his, Robbie Vann-Adibe, the CEO of ECAST, a digital jukebox company. At page 7, Anderson describes the similarity of a digital jukebox and a regular jukebox as both are big enclosures with speakers and blinking lights, often found in bars. However there is one main difference between the two. Rather than a hundred CDs, a digital jukebox has a broadband connection to the Internet and patrons can therefore choose from thousands of tracks that are then downloaded and stored on a local hard drive.
During this conversation between Anderson and Vann-Adibe, Anderson asked Vann-Adibe what percentage of the 10,000 albums available in the jukeboxes sold at least one track per quarter. To Anderson’s astonishment, the answer was 98%. Anderson soon found out the songs didn’t sell in big numbers, but nearly all of them sold something. At page 8, Vann-Adibe explained to Anderson that in a world of minimal packaging costs and instant access to almost all content in a digital format, consumers exhibit consistent behaviour: they look at almost everything.