Nov 222011
the internet's long tail is having some unexpected consequences

The Financial Times’ Tech Hub blog reports how Facebook’s Timeline function is driving views to old newspaper articles to unexpected stories.

On one level, this is a vindication of Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory of the value of older inventory; that older assets and data become more valuable in an age of unlimited choice.

The question remains though just have valuable old news really is, does the digital equivalent of fish and chip wrapping really have any intrinsic value.

It will probably turn out that information consumers will pay for unique, timely content while leaving the lolcats and funny videos to ad supported content farms.

The long tail model is the digital equivalent of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods business model, just as a big supermarket only makes pennies from each can of baked beans or milk they sell, they make big profits due to the volume they move.

As business writer Seth Godin has put it, the long tail is good for organisations that own big warehouses, and newspapers have the news equivalent of that.

For small businesses, the long tail is not where we need to be, our economics mean margin, not volume.

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