Chris Anderson

Submitted by on Oct 29, 2015

Long Tail FAQ

I argue in the original piece that successful aggregators have to have both hits *and* niches. But for aggregators of user-created content, like photos or blogs, community may be more important. What’s a “filter”?

Filters are people or software that help you find what you want in the long tail, driving demand from hits to niches. They come in many different varieties, many of which I describe in this post. How finely can you slice aggregation?

Most of the Long Tail aggregators, such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes, completely dominate their categories. They are, in a sense, hits. But the Long Tail is about the shift from hits to niches–doesn’t that apply to aggregators, too? If so, what might a niche aggregator be? Does the Long Tail apply outside of media and entertainment?

It does, big time. Think eBay (the Long Tail of physical goods) or Google (the Long Tail of advertising). Media and entertainment are just the easiest industries to understand, with the longest-running data sets to analyze, which is why I initially focused on them. Why is this blog so, well, wonky?

Hey, the search for the grand unified theory of abundance economics is no walk in the park. Rigor, baby. Plus I’m saving all the fun stories n’ stuff for the book. What the Long Tail isn’t

Is the Long Tail a magic incantation that can make every low-selling product category a viable market? No. Click for more on this and other misconceptions. Is the Long Tail full of crap?

There’s a lot of junk out there in the Long Tail. Isn’t that a problem? What’s a powerlaw?

The Long Tail is a powerlaw that isn’t cruelly cut off by bottlenecks in distribution such as limited shelf space and available channels. But what’s a powerlaw and under what conditions does it appear? The origins of “The Long Tail”

Statisticians have talked about “long tails” before, but not the way we’re using it here: to describe the consequences of the abundance boom created by technology. Does the rise of the LT = the fall of mass culture?

What does the shift from hits to niches means for the future of mass (hit-driven, mainstream) culture in America? Is that 57% Amazon figure right?

Not quite. It was based on good forensic economics, but seems with further research to be a bit high. Does the LT increase demand or just shift it?

Does the growth of the Long Tail increase the total area under the curve, or just shift demand from hits to niches? What about producers?

I can see what the Long Tail offers consumers and distributors, but are there equal advantages for producers?

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