Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Long Tail in Advertising

The long tail is a concept of market size.

Wired magazine provided a good description of the Long Tail last October.

Recently I have been reading Seth Godin's Purple Cow and also have been working on a Google Adwords campaign for a relative's company. Google Adwords works because of the Long Tail. But it is amazing how many people/businesses/organisations don't take advantage of this.

The Long Tail describes the distribution curve. You have a few big hits to the left and as you move right in the distribution curve so the sales/views/success of a product, etc will be less until it becomes infinitely small.

Amazon use it with great success selling their books. They don't have to stock books in hundreds of stores, just in their warehouses. So when someone wants a rarely sold book, they can readily lay their hands on it and make a sale. But the number of rarely sold books is HUGE! You do the maths.

Google Adwords works the same way.

I have been setting up a couple of hundred keyword phrases for a campaign. Alot of these keywords will be lucky to get one hit a month. But the combined hits adds up. What's more, the cost per click is far less than going after far more competitive generic keywords. And I have no competition. Why? Most people haven't figured out how to use the Long Tail yet.

And you can use related philosophies throughout your marketing. Should you be everywhere your competitors are? Can you out-Proctor & Gamble Proctor & Gamble, out-Microsoft Microsoft, out-Toyota Toyota? Probably not, and if you tried it would cost you a huge amount of money.

Marketers tend to act like sheep. We all go in the same direction as the rest of the herd. We don't want to risk missing out on what everyone else is doing. But it is pretty rough in the centre of the herd. Lots of pushing and shoving goes on there. Get to the edge of the herd and look for opportunities there. What niche markets, advertising opportunities are available that others are missing? There is a risk that it wont come off, but if it does, you will be ahead of the herd and then they will be the ones doing the chasing!