Chris Anderson has just published a great piece on his Long Tail blog called The dangers of "Headism". Go read it if you're into all that.

If you're not into all that, I still think this picture is worth a thousand words:

It explains a lot of what I've had to explain and re-explain to people in recent months.

Heck, go to his post anyway just to look at the other pictures. They're simple but explain things nicely.

Posted by jzawodn at May 26, 2005 12:45 PM

Reader Comments
# Frig said:

When will this meme run its course? Does the tail represent media sold? Or simply media titles queried? If it is media titles queried then one must ask if it is even available...there is a huge pool of printed work, music, and even video that is no longer produced and is only available at garage sales or auctions. As the media publishers continue to see declines in sales, they will see little value in publishing and shipping works for such tiny audiences, you better hope this stuff gets available in unencumbered digital formats.

on May 27, 2005 09:54 AM
# Eric Hamilton said:

For Frig: The Long Tail is not just about old, out of print stuff that you can only find at garage sales or E-Bay. It's also about niche markets that were previously very difficult to reach.

Obscure topics, such as Zhaobao Taijiquan (a style of Kung Fu from the small Chinese village of Zhaobao) represent a market that is very thinly spread around the world, everywhere but in Zhaobao itself.

In any particular city, there simply are not enough people interested in Zhaobao Taiji to stock books, newsletters, instructional DVDs, or other products related to Zhaobao Taijiquan. It simply isn't worth the shelf space.

The internet removes that problem. Now, a shop dedicated to Zhaobao Taijiquan can publish material and reach a large portion of the market via the internet. In any regional market, there would not be enough interest to make a business out of it, but online, it doesn't matter how thinly the market is spread, and the website can make money.

All of this is covered much better in the original Long Tail Wired article, by Chris Anderson.

Beyond products, The Long Tail applies equally well (perhaps better, even) to search. The Long Tail of search applies to all products and industries, regardless of how mainstream they are. For example, even huge blockbusters like Star Wars and The Lord of The Rings has a long tail of search terms that can drive traffic to websites. Long tail terms account for as much as half of all search traffic on the web.

I wrote an article yesterday called, The Long Tail: SEO Tips that deals with the topic in more depth.

I hope that clears things up a little bit.

on May 27, 2005 05:48 PM
# Frig said:

Eric-the long tail has been observed in search web logs since 1996 (i know, i observed these logs), but its just that, an observation. for almost a decade i have been hearing how marketers etc will capitalize on these micro-markets simply because they can, but logs are still telling me the payoff is proportional to the market.

on May 31, 2005 09:55 AM
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