Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Importance of the Long Tail

Nielson recently posted data on how engaging brand in the "long tail" are fairing. The data shows that we spend less time at long tail sites and more time at the top sites.

The conclusion is that long tail isn't where the future business is at least not just yet.
"What does this amount to? As much as anyone thinks the future is in the long tail, it’s just not the case-at least not yet. In fact, consumers feel more comfortable on large, mass media sites. We know the Internet is changing. We know there are more blogs, boards, tweets and social networks than ever before. But what’s also clear is that while the Internet itself is fragmenting (like all other media), people continue to spend their time on the sites that offer them the most options and functionality."
But the numbers don't support that conclusion. The numbers are simply a reflection of the fact the long tail is a power curve.

Chris Anderson’s theory of the long tail states that as the cost of distribution approaches zero the demand is infinitely eclectic. The long tail is a special power curve that stretches out forever. With a power curve you would expect people to spend the most time at the top sites and the least time in the less popular sites. Most people have more than one specialized interest and will spend a little time at each long tail site. The entry point to the long tail is usually the top sites explaining why there is more time spent there.

A more interesting measure would be total time in the long tail not the average time.

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