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THE LONG TAIL

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July 2006 saw the launch of a book called the Long Tail, written by Wired magazine's Chris Anderson. The book is an extension of Anderson's original article on the subject published in Wired in 2004. The book has received much hype - no problems there, good marketing as far as I am concerned - with numerous articles appearing both on and offline. A typical example is this one from the Sunday Times. Like others, there is nothing wrong with the article in itself, my problem comes with the background of those who have written such pieces.

quote: the concept has been known as the 80/20 rule fore ever

The Sunday Times article is written by Simon Crerar, the 'entertainment editor' of Times Online. You see, there is my problem. Crerar finds the book enlightening. So he should, as an expert in entertainment he is new to the subject.

Had he been the Times' e-commerce [or e-marketing] editor he would have known that the concept was originally broached by Jakob Nielsen in 1997 when he applied it to page popularity and search queries [I might be doing Anderson a disservice by suggesting Nielsen's article is the basis for his version of the long tail - but there is an obvious link between the two].

Had the article been written by the retail editor there is no doubt he would have recognised that the concept has been known as the 80/20 rule for ever.

And as marketing editor he would know that the long tail is identified in marketing strategy as 'niche' marketing.

Sure the Internet has made the whole thing easier - but it is not new. Nevertheless, full marks to Chris Anderson for writing the book.

Footnote - I cover the long tail in one of my chapters in 'Online Marketing - a customer led approach' - it had gone to the publisher prior to Anderson's book being publication, and I have written a review of the long tail book.

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