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Leveraging the Long Tail with Youtube

19 May

Now we’re almost about to wrap up all the patterns of Web 2.0 as described by Tim O’Reilly, by the way the second to the last, is one that kept me thinking on how new businesses are discovering now the new ad forms. At a base level, regardless of IT budget, people need solutions to their issues and are often crafty enough to figure out a way to get things done. To discuss on the true children of the Internet era, O’Reilly touched on some good points with good examples:

Overture and Google’s success came from an understanding of what Chris Anderson refers to as “the long tail,” the collective power of the small sites that make up the bulk of the web’s content. DoubleClick’s offerings require a formal sales contract, limiting their market to the few thousand largest websites. Overture and Google figured out how to enable ad placement on virtually any web page. What’s more, they eschewed publisher/ad-agency friendly advertising formats such as banner ads and popups in favor of minimally intrusive, context-sensitive, consumer-friendly text advertising.

For a person like me who does not have quite a good grip of economics, you might also wonder why a Wired magazine editor talks about the hindmost part of an animal and of it being long. Certainly it’s got nothing to do with that thing that waggles behind a kangaroo hopping on our backyard. But it’s about what Business Week magazine said about “a powerful new economic force in a world where the Internet allows access to almost unlimited choice” which is a brilliant theory of Chris Anderson who has “identified an important truth about our economy and culture.” His example was how Amazon.com makes most of its revenue from huge numbers of specialised titles, not the blockbuster ones, or the high-selling books we see in bookshops. Each specialised title may only sell hundreds of copies per year, but there are just so many of them, compared with the small number of ‘top ten’ books (which is, of course, always only 10). He further adds that “In a Long Tail world, the future does not lie in hits—the high-volume end of a traditional demand curve—but  in what used to be regarded as misses, the curve’s endlessly long tail.”

So for this very reason, O’Reilly clearly tells us a good Web 2.0 lesson and that is to leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.”

And since I don’t want you to be in the same dilemma of deciding what is “heads” and “tails” on a given coin (it’s not always easy), I might as well keep on tossing it.

On Traditional TV versus YouTube (Heads or Tails?)

TV versus YouTube

Television is a good example of this: Chris Anderson defines Long Tail TV in the context of “content that is not available through traditional distribution channels but could nevertheless find an audience.”  So those, whose independent contents could not— for economic reasons— find a place in the TV distribution channels as it is controlled by expensive advertisements costs, will resort to other mass medium.

Thus, the advent of services offered by YouTube opens up the opportunity for niche content to reach the right audiences. YouTube where thousands of diverse videos— whose content, production value or lack of popularity make them inappropriate for traditional television— now make independent contents easily accessible to a wide range of viewers. These may not always attract the highest level of viewership, but their business distribution models make that of less importance.


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