Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Long tail effect and podcasting

I was reading the Toronto Star this morning. I'm not particular of The Star (my favourite is Globe & Mail), but I've been reading it this past week because I get a copy for free.

In the I.D. section, there was an interview with Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail. If you don't know what The Long Tail theory is, read about it here.

This is reason why I believe that the number of podcast subscribers compared to podcasts will continue to be small, yet influential. If we apply The Long Tail effect to podcasting, podcast listeners will seek out podcasts that fulfill their particular tastes. While the average podcast may only have a few hundred subscribers, these subscribers will become so loyal that their economic impact can't be ignored.

Businesses that believe that you'll get millions and millions of listeners in a matter of days just because you produced a killer podcast is in for a huge surprise. This antiquated mode of thinking produces a The Short Tail effect - a huge spike in interest that only lasts for hours at worst, or days at the most or maybe a couple of years. Think Spice Girls.

It took Rocketboom close to 2-years to see downloads in the hundreds of thousands. Many user-generated audio and visual content sit around on YouTube, not because no one is interested, but because the buzz is slowly building as friends pass the URL on to another friend.

But businesses grow impatient with this. Many businesses don't want to sit around waiting years to see a return on their investment. Budgets are crafted, money is spent and at the end of the year, the books need to be balanced.

I appreciate that. Hence, I would advise businesses to employ both a Short Tail and Long Tail effect into their marketing mix. However, ensure that each campaign is unique. Don't use a 30-second ad that you air on Global and try to post it to YouTube. It won't fly simply because that's like church and state sleeping in the same bed.

Instead, run your 30-second ad, but produce something unique and clever online. In order for you to get millions of dollars in publicity on just $300 (thanks Michael Geist for such a wonderful title), you really need to niche your online audio and visual communications. Otherwise, it'll fail miserably.

My meanderings this morning.

Update: Another great article in the Star on The Long Tail. The title? Mass market economy to be a million niches. Love it.

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