Leveraging the Long Tail

6 May

As the number of participants in the Web has increased, unique phenomena have been observed. One of them is the Long Tail. The term “Long Tail” was popularized by Chris Anderson. The Long Tail means that the total sum of somethings with general characters(the Head) could be less than the total sum of somethings with unusual characters(the Tail), and emphasizes importance of the Tail. For example, six people will get a job after graduating from university. On the other hand, two people will study more, two people will begin their journey, two people will get married and two people will do nothing and just stay at home. In this case, we can say that most people  get a job after graduating from university. However, actually the number of those people is less than the number of the others because the number of the others who will not get a job is eight in total. This is the Long Tail concept.

what the long tail is


There are a variety of sites that are taking full advantage of the long tail. One of them is Lonelyplanet.com. This is a travel website which provides information for trip. However, it has obvious differences from other general travel websites. This has been leveraging the Long Tail. First, it offers information focusing on users’ special interests such as honeymoon as well as normal information about trip. In addition, it offers various services including flight booking services, insurance services, travel accessory shopping services and travel tips services as well. Therefore, through this website, users can not only book airplane tickets and hotels but also buy something for trip and get information about a variety of activities which can be done in their destinations. Besides, as it provides a place which is called Thorn Tree travel forum, users can share their ideas about travel with each other and get advice from others there. Like this, this site includes diverse contents which meet various people’s needs, not just megahit contents. For the reason, this website has been used by a large number of people. This shows why leveraging the Long Tail is important.

Chris Anderson says, “Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bit stream.” This emphasizes the importance of the Long Tail. As more and more people with different tastes and characteristics participate in use of the Web, the Long Tail becomes more important.

Reach out to the edges and not just the center!
Reach out to the Long Tail and not just the head!

However, we must keep in mind that this does not mean the head should be excluded or ignored. 🙂


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9 Responses to “Leveraging the Long Tail”

  1. osarfo May 8, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    very interesting read. keep up the good work!

    • subinkim May 10, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      Thanks for visiting my blog and reading it. 🙂

      • osarfo May 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

        No worries!

  2. takujoo May 9, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    Hi Subinkim,

    i am not sure i quite understand your explaination of the ‘long tail’ concept. Perhaps if you relate your example to a marketing example then it may be alot clearer. For example, 6 people may graduate with jobs in making jars out of glass. Four of which each have then become prominent enterprenuers in the above business but the other two were not so popular and so the long tail would be 1) Identifying a market that is readily and easily accessible for these target audience 2) Perhaps sites where they can sell their products. This hence addresses a niche and the more these markets addresses a niche the more responsive these niche markets will be. (in other words, attracting more sellers and buyers who are also less popular).

    However, i really liked the concept of having to “do more in less” with LonelyPlanet.com. It seems like a a good example that leverages the long tail in meeting people’s various needs rather than just going places or meeting people.

    Please visit my blog and add a comment. Would really appreciate your comments.


    • subinkim May 10, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Thadreina,

      I wanted to show why it is called “long tail” with a simple example, so I didn’t relate it to the marketing example. However, you’re right. The Long Tail concept is for the market place and was created to emphasize niche markets. Thanks for giving me your idea and your suggestion. 🙂

      • takujoo May 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

        Not you worry,

        you always do justice to your posts and i did enjoy reading and knowing more about LonelyPlanet.


  3. osfernandes May 10, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Good to know about this website. when people are commenting on something you have an idea of what are you purchasing. The good thing that I realised about this website and directly relate to Long Tail concept is that the website not only offer travel advices such as Fly tickets, insurance and tour but also it offers car hire, rail tickets, travel books per country, visa help and son on. Expanding the services and products range, the website will attract more people with different needs 🙂

    Nice example…and please have a look about mine if you can

    • subinkim May 10, 2012 at 10:43 am #


      Thanks for your comment. 🙂
      In the age of web 2.0, to succeed in an online business, the owner must realize and consider that there are a large number of people with different needs in the world.
      I hope that this post helped your understanding of this pattern.


  4. MOHAMMED May 18, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Hi there,
    I really like the way that you used to describe this pattern, it looks like you have mathematical background. Also using this website as an example make it easy to understand it. And the most interesting thing about this website is that they also provide an application for the Iphone.

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