Nr7 the long tail


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Nr7 the long tail

  1. 1. Lecture Seven: The Long Tail‘Forget squeezing millions from a fewmegahits at the top of the charts. Thefuture of entertainment is in the millionsof niche markets at the shallow end ofthe bitstream.’ Chris Anderson, The LongTail, first published in Wiredmagazine, October 2004.“The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasinglyshifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstreamproducts and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a hugenumber of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall,especially online … narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economicallyattractive as mainstream fare” (Anderson, 2007)
  2. 2. Book publishing: conventional sales model Best seller Profit still Strongly Mid List available if supported In customer could catalogue, bu t poorly find the books supported Back List Not supported or out of printSalesThe total volume of low popularity itemsexceeds the volume of high popularity items
  3. 3. The virtues of Long Tail marketing for book buyers1. It liberates consumers from the tyranny ofmanufactured ‘popular taste’.2. It validates the individual who does not, incultural respects, share the herd sensibility.3. It caters - profitably - for book buyers with nicheinterestsProblem: how does a retailer reach theseprofitable niche consumers?
  4. 4. Example of a niche interest that became profitable Touching the Void (1988) died on the shelves. Ten years later it was a best- seller. Why? Into Thin Air was published 1998 – a best seller. And Amazon linked the two.
  5. 5. Pressure on store space Netfix: 25,000+ Blockbuster: intangible 3000 tangible DVDs DVDSPressure on location Swan Theatre: max 1300 in10 mile shopping radius audience
  6. 6. Will the ‘bestseller mentality’ become obsolete?Question: why do people buy best-selling books?Fear of exclusion from the cave?But now popularity isnot essential for profitProblem #1: How do you alert people to the existence of aniche-interest book?Problem #2: How can a niche-interest book even getpublished?
  7. 7. One answer: long tail keyword searchesShakespeare’s First Folio:Shakespeare’ (74.3 million hits).‘Shakespeare “First Folio” criticism’ (325,000 hits).Better: ‘Shakespeare “First Folio” criticism “Ben Jonson”editor’ (20,900 hits)Another answer: seduction marketing.But ‘interruption marketing’ mustprecede seduction marketing – so it’sback to the problem
  8. 8. BREAK EXERCISE:Imagine you’re a small publisher. You’vepublished a new book. You need to get peoplecoming to your web site and buying the book.You can’t afford to advertise it. How can you stillget a lot of people to recommend or review yourbook?
  9. 9. The problem of pricing a digital book(What value have mere electrons?)Should we cut the price to promote more sales?
  10. 10. The problems of discounting the price of an ebook1. Price becomes the retailer’s only UniquePerceived Benefit2. A cheap product is assumed to be defective orof poor quality3. A high price may denote value and quality
  11. 11. How could ebooks be sold at a robustprice - and yet still attract customers?Introducing… batch customisation. The LongTail principle exemplified.1. Will stories and entire novels be routinely written bycomputer programs?2. Will the programs be given brand names?3. Will stories be created - as well as provided - ondemand?
  12. 12. Spyntax: a taste of fiction to come?‘Rabia woke up and said: “It’s so good to be back inMarrakech!” The donkeys in the square below snortedwith agreement.’‘Rabia opened her eyes and cried: “It’s wonderful to behome again in Marrakech!” The goats in the gardenbeneath grunted in disbelief.’How spyntax works (with two variations per word)Rabia {woke up|opened her eyes} and {said|cried}: “It’s {sogood|wonderful} to be {back|home again} in Marrakech!” The{donkeys|goats} in the {square below|garden beneath}{snorted|grunted} {with agreement|in disbelief}.’
  13. 13. Spyntax with four variations per wordRabia {woke up|opened her eyes|stretched herarms|tossed her head} and {said|cried|exclaimed|sang}:“It’s {so good|wonderful|marvellous|splendid} to be{back|home again|here once more|safe again} inMarrakech!” The {donkeys|goats|camels|dogs} in the{square below|garden beneath|souk|street outside}{snorted|grunted|snored|barked} {with agreement|indisbelief|with amusement|their dissent}.’Just these two sentences, spun as above, yield65,536 (48) possible permutations.A 60,000 word novel would produce 1.65 billionpermutations, greater than the population of China
  14. 14. 4. Could each book be personalised to thereader?5. Could such stories become addictive?6. Might these stories be transposed to thecomputer screen and enacted in some form of‘virtual reality’ environment?Could this be the future of publishing – ebookssold in the Long Tail? And every one unique?