You would think that popular people with lots of friend or followers would get a lot more traffic than those small know people….. Well, that’s wrong. Bump (2012) suggested that online content is spread through large numbers of people sharing with small groups. I guess at the heart of it, information sharing is the same as it has been forever, word of mouth among peer groups. The difference is that the groups are now more connected and far broader than ever before.
So that now means that by word of mouth, people can recommend something that is a long, long way down the catalogue list. If each of these niche ‘somethings’ is sold to a couple of people you have the long tail that can add up to a large new market.
This catalogue list becomes far longer than any Angus & Roberston book shop can store in one physical space. Hence the graph below, the left is the short head of hits and the long tail trails off to the right as the number of titles increases.
In 2004, Chris Anderson asked consumers:
What percentage of the top 10,000 music titles will sell or rent at least once in a month?
Most people said only 20% would be whereas surprisingly, the answer is 99%. 10,000 songs is not a lot of songs if you only have to sell each one once……
Anderson also compares the 130,000 books in a normal book store like Barnes and Nobles with Amazon. Amazon sells more than half of its books from outside the top 130,000 books!
Allposters.com sells over a million posters across 25 countries, they claim to be the largest online retailer of wall decor. If we look at Allposters.com in regards to Anderson long tail theory.
He suggests three big rules to ensure an application captures the long tail:
1. Make everything available
A person would not buy niche items at the local store as they cannot afford to store them. Therefore online shops have a huge advantage as they focus on one hit wonders and can afford to be far less hit-centric. The graph below demonstrates the number of documentaries available online compared to a local store, using information gathered on Amazon.com
Allposters.com fits with this rule, having the largest number of poster available in the world.
2. Cut the price in half. Now lower it.
If the product is digital, the organisation can take away the retail overhead costs, manufacturing cost and the distribution costs, saving them lots of money. They just have to find, make and market the music online. The graph below has been designed around information from Jonathan Daniel and Joe Fleischer at Crush Music Media Management.
It seems that most of the posters on Allposters.com are very cheap, the only overhead for this site is the delivery. But the prices seem a lot cheaper than the local art gallery.
3. Help Me Find It
This rule focuses on real-time information about buying trends and public opinion. Applications use different ways to do this. As an example, Amazon filters browsing and buying histories of users. But they are all aim to do the same, have user recommendations to drive demand down the Long Tail (Anderson, 2004). The graph below uses information from Amazon.com
Allposters.com offer a best sellers list and when a poster is selected it offers related categories to help the user find products a lot easier.
Other similar Web 2.0 applications
There are many other sites that sell 1000s of posters. I chose to investigate Allposters.com because deliver to Australia and they seemed to offer the largest number of posters – or I should say they are leveraging the longest tail.
Finding a good Web 2.0 application that provides good evidence of leveraging the long tail is difficult and I feel that Allposters.com is not exactly a Web 2.0 application in other of O’Reily’s design patterns except maybe harnessing the collective intelligence by gathering the search patterns and purchasing statistics of buyers.
There appears to be no information on the copyright rules in regards to replicating art. If anyone knows about whether Allposters.com can sell this art, please let me know.
I think the site would fall over if artists stopped allowing copies of their art to be sold without a payment to them.
Maybe Allposters.com can look at becoming a richer user experience, offering tools to edit the images or draw their own images. Again the question about copyright may be an issue especially if the art is changed in any way.
Anderson, C (2004) The Long Tail. Wired. Retrieved 3rd May 2012
Bump, P. (2012) The Long Tail of Social Media. Retrieved 3rd May 2012
Johnson, A. (2005). The Long Tail. Competitive Intelligence. Retrieved 4th May 2012
Allposters.com.au. Retrieved 4th May 2012