Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Long Tail Marketing in Video Games

Video game companies have traditionally been on the leading edge of supporting their community and providing tools to extend their products. This was started by ID with the release of Doom, and the large MOD community that grew up around it. Today there may be thousands of modifications developed by individuals and groups that extend the capability and play length of the most popular video games. These developments then push consumers to purchase the games sometimes years after they were first made available, extending the sales cycle well beyond the traditional Christmas push.

Another long tail method that video game developers are using to great success is in releasing website development kits. These kits allow tens of thousands of players to create fan websites featuring artwork and materials provided by the game developer. These sites' enthusiasm for the game provide free publicity and marketing for the game before it comes out and years afterwards.

We all know that word of mouth is one of the strongest ways of securing new customers, in my experience building websites it accounts for over 90% of our customers. These video game companies are harnessing that power and supporting it's development. Imagine if your company could have thousands of customers singing your praises and building content related to your products.

Maybe this is why product recommendations seem to be such a powerful tool. I'll be thinking more about this, and ways to apply it to online businesses. Some of our current customers are starting to build these communities. An update with ideas and results will be coming in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ebay, Amazon and Other Companies Using Long Tail Marketing in Adsense Buys

As part of my investigation into long tail marketing, I have been dooing oodles of Google searches on a wide variety of topics. One thing I have discovered, and many of you have as well is that Ebay and Amazon are buying up lots of really strange adsense words.

A search for Lint brings up this ad.
Lint for sale. aff
Check out the deals now!

hmm., I've never considered selling my lint on ebay, but I'm looking at that little tray in the dryer as a renuable resource of pizza money.

Okay if lint is for sale, what about dirt.

Discount Products on eBay
Search for all items andsave now! affiliate.

I wonder if this is dirt cheap. :D

One thing Google has started to do is denote that these ads are from affiliates and not the companies themselves.

Try out these searches yourself using the google search at the bottom of this page. Clicking links has never been so much fun! (Results open in new window)


Friday, January 14, 2005

The Long Tail of Everything Ecommerce

After reviewing an article on the long tail of torrent files, I thought it might be fun to analyze the amount of traffic sent to Everything Ecommerce by the address of the site sending the traffic. I sorted the 588 referrers received since the site launched 3 weeks ago by frequency. The resulting graph shows a website with an extremely long tail. The top 15 sites (2.5%) account for 50% of the referrer traffic that the site receives.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Journey to Getting Published - The Long Tail of the Publishing Industry.

I have begun to put together a book that covers the ways that online stores can thrive through better design, development and long tail marketing. The unique part about the book is that it's told from an insider's perspecive and chronicles the success and failures of over 100 online stores. The annoted outline is completed as well as the beginings of the first chapter. I've also completed the author's bio, marketing plan, target audience analysis and, competitive analysis. Through the process of familiarizing myself with the ways that the publishing industry works, I have discovered a really long tail -- Print on Demand Publishing.

From all of my research the publishing industry breaks down into 3 separate categories. The big publishing houses like Hyperion, Random House etc. These company's publish most of the best sellers each year, do not take unsolicited manuscripts, and only work through literary agents. They also are willing to pay advances to writers in exchange for the rights to publish the book.

Then there are the self publishing book printers. This is also known as vanity publishing. You pay them to publish your book, in return the author keeps a higher percentage of revenue per book sale. These companies will publish anything.

In between these two sets of publishers is the Print on Demand publishers. These companies will not pay anything to the writer in advance, but will not charge the writer to publish the book either. They keep a low inventory of books on hand, and then print copies from digital files as orders come in. The Print on Demand publishers can have thousands and thousands of books that they might publish each year in extremely small quantities. This business model leaves most authors with insubstantial income from their low book sales, but can represent significan income for the publishers. Also, if you examine's long tail of books that it sells, you will find that the vast majority of them are from Print on Demand publishers.

What does this all mean for the book that I'm writing? Well, I will not go the vanity press route. Even though I feel that the book has merit and there is an audience of people looking for better ways of running their online business. I am actively looking for a literary agent, although they seem to either not be very websavvy or purposly do not want to be found. I suspect that it's a little of both. Ideally, if I could find an agent who could present the book to the teir 1 and 2 publishers, then I could concentrate on writing the book and preparing the marketing.

What is most likely to happen is that I end up publishing with a Print On Demand publisher, and hoping that through recommendations and Amazon's long tail, along with my own marketing efforts, my book can be found and purchased.

If all else fails I'll take the content that I'm developing and use it to continue to develop my online properties. Until then, anyone know a good literary agent for non-fiction business/internet guides?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Analysis of BitTorrent Files Illustrates the Long Tail

In case you haven't seen it yet, there is an interesting analysis of BitTorent distributions that shows a very very long tail. This analysis was done prior to the crackdown by the RIAA of Supernova and other of the top torrent distributors. I can't wait to see the followup a few months from now that will track usage after the shutdown of these major sites.

If only 4% contained 80% of the files, then the record company shutting down a small number of large sites can have a significant impact. Or, it's possible that the trend to 1 torrent file per site will continue and the addition of excellent search tools will allow users to find the files they are looking for even if it's only referenced on one site.

In case you've missed this article, be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Trickle-up economics!

Chris Anderson is currently working on a book about The Long Tail concept that he first wrote about for Wired. Recently he asked what definition of The Long Tail best captured its true meening. He is sitll working on honing the definition, but under best slogans you'll see one by yours truely.

Best Slogans:
“Trickle-up economics!”—Joshua Wood

Monday, January 10, 2005

Long Tail Marketing - The key to long term success?

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about long tail marketing. Reflecting back on my own customers over the last decade it occurred to me that the ones who flourished, the ones who survived the downturn all utilized long tail techniques. It may have been something as simple as they had a wishlist that was searchable leading to the creation of 1000 tails into their site. Maybe they set up an affiliate program either internally or using an external one like Commision Junction. They may even had bi directional data exchanges with fulfillment houses to drop ship tens of thousands of products. In each case every single one of these customers is still in business.

Then there are the other ones. The customer who said "we don't want any more online sales than we get now, we can't handle the volume." They're online and offline store is out of business. The inefficiencies in their business could no longer allow them to be profitable. There are also the customers who rushed to make money during the boom, not even knowing what products to sell, but wanting to sell "something."

As I look around at the sites on the internet, I find it increasingly hard to find established sites that are not using some form of long tail marketing. I am beginning to think that long tail marketing is actually a discriminator between companies that will survive and companies that will fail.

I would love to have examples of successful stores not using long tail marketing. If you know of one, drop me a line.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

From Everything eCommerce:Simple Things You Can Do to Maintain Your Site's Long Tail

Everything Ecommerce just published an article on ways that online stores can make their website's tails longer. The practical advice will produce results with almost no cost. The ways to take advantage of Long Tail Marketing include: Preserving Existing Links, Upsell from Discountinued/Out of Stock Products instead of removing them, and finally establish an affiliate program.

Read the whole article here:

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Welcome fellow Long Tailers

I was pouring through the traffic logs of my new blog and I saw a bunch of referrers coming from It seems that Chris Anderson has linked to me from his blog. I just want to thank Chris for sending me traffic my way. I read his article in Wired with interest, and it really got me thinking about the hundreds of online stores that I've built over the years. Some succeed and some failed with the dot com collapse. The ones that thrived though all have 1 thing in common, they were all able to leverage niche markets in their sales.

Look at the way Amazon continues to grow and add additional product lines and incorporate other online store's products into their monolithic site. I don't think it's a coincidence that they have been able to outpace all of their online rivals. They started the whole Amazon Associates program where they paid webmasters commisions on sales. Overnight hundreds of thousands of links went up going into Amazon. Currently they have over 2.6 MILLION incoming links. It's no wonder they have impressive results on search engines with that many people linking into them.

Well, I just wanted to thank you for visiting, I will be updating the site about 3 -5 times per week. I hope that the content you find here make it worthwhile to keep coming back. Drop me a line if you have any thoughts on things you'd like to see.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Google Adwords - Long Tail Marketing in Action.

The Google Adwords program, which allows website owners to host content sensitive Google powered advertising, is a perfect example of the Long Tail effect at work. There are conservatively a million websites running the Google Adwords program. These websites together bring in a staggering amount of money to Google.

Based on online financial reports it is impossible to ferret out how much of Google's 1 billion dollars in ad sales comes from it's own search engine delivered advertising versus the adwords program. However, leading financial and search engine industry experts put it's breakdown to nearly 50/50. Gooogle also has rolled out graphical advertisements on external sites using its Adwords program. Something that it has yet to do on

The message is clear, companies that have been able to leverage the power of Long Tail Marketing have continued to survive and thrive throughout the dot bomb boom, and gain market share as their less savvy competitor's slipped away.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

From Everything eCommerce:The Long Tail Part 2: Why Search Engines Love Blogs

This whole long tail thinking has really gotten me excited. If you have been studying search engine marketing and strategies, I'm sure you've come across the idea that search engines, especially Google love blogs. This was actually the reason this blog was started in the first place, as a way of capturing traffic. It was on blogs that things like Googlebombing first started. I think high ranking of blogs on search engines is caused by the long tail effect.

Each posting that goes up on a blog eventually moves off into the archives and is then found under it's permanent link. These postings can be pretty diverse and the home page of a blog might cover things from search engine positioning to what I had to eat last night. The permanent links though are where things get interesting. If I was suddenly to write a 5 paragraph piece on obscure obtuse geometry detailing out what obscure obtuse geometry means and how it relates to bridge building and fortune cookies, the resulting page would be extremely focused for the obscure obtuse geometry keywords. Maybe I'd even get lucky and have some other sites and blogs mention my page when they are looking for a way to explain obscure obtuse geometry.

Read the entire article at Everything eCommerce

Welcome to Long Tail Marketing.

Long Tail Marketing is a term coined by Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson. It is a way to economically increase revenue from hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of niche markets.

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 bitstream.

successful long tail marketers include Amazon with their 200k+ listings of books, some which only sell a few times a year Cafe Press with their thousands of websites that each sell customized clothing, hats and mugs printed on demand is another example of a company using Long Tail marketing.

As Chris said in his wired article, Long Tail marketing is not just a virtue of online booksellers; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for the media and entertainment industries, one that is just beginning to show its power. Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at notables to music videos on Yahoo! Launch to songs in the iTunes Music Store and Rhapsody. People are going deep into the catalog, down the long, long list of available titles, far past what's available at Blockbuster Video, Tower Records, and Barnes & Noble. And the more they find, the more they like. As they wander further from the beaten path, they discover their taste is not as mainstream as they thought (or as they had been led to believe by marketing, a lack of alternatives, and a hit-driven culture).

What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are (see "Anatomy of the Long Tail"). In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity. Venture capitalist and former music industry consultant Kevin Laws puts it this way: "The biggest money is in the smallest sales."

Read the entire article here: Long Tail at Wired Magazine