The Long Tail

Strangely enough, I've come across the term "long tail business" multiple times throughout the day. At first I merely noted the term, and went on with what I was doing. But the second time I paused, and it sunk in what was meant.

Google is a long tail business. Amazon is a long tail business. Netflix is a long tail business.

The Wired article, The Long Tail, headlines: "Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream."

The place that caused me to pause and consider the merits of the concept of the 'long tail business' is this site, apparently the blog of one of the Excite founders. What impressed me was this writer's honesty about why Excite failed (and the fact that he openly shared it, and that I was able to gain insight from it is a good indicator of the value of this medium). He explained that Excite was unable to figure out how to leverage the vast majority of their traffic (97%) that was on myriad disparate topical searches, as opposed to their 3 or so percent of the popular searches, like "MP3", or "Brittany Spears".

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Todd Hopkinson