Reversing The Long Tail

I was thinking this morning that if one asks 100 people which is their favorite Beatles song, one would probably have 50 different answers. (Which probably does not happen with Frank Sinatra or AC/DC.) And I bet one can find more of this kind of information. Or writers. And just like that, wandering from thought to thought I got to Confucius’ words, “In matters of essence, all people are alike. In matters of behavior, all people are different.” It’s like: we want the same things, but for different reasons. (The fuddy-duddy could even say that the reverse is possible: we want different things, but for the same reasons.)

But I shall just abridge: the classical pattern of sale is the Pareto distribution – 20% of the clients bringing 80% of sales. That also because the information costs are high and then one prefers to focus on the 20%. In the Internet era, however, things change: that 80% that were not the best clients (because they wanted all kind of weird things that did not exist) get to generate more than 80% revenues. But the theory still says one needs some mainstream / best-seller products to move the tail. To make the people explore the niches of your shop.

I was thinking today that the reverse also works for brands that are already established. (The long-tail is the favorite start-ups’ theory, we know it.) What about using your old achievements to push the public towards the thing you want them to do at a time being.

Let’s look for instance at televisions and online video. Let’s say I am a television post that has all the rights for a certain show (call it a reality show) that has been filmed in the last 5 years. And it’s still going. If I place the entire archive on the Internet, free of charge, I may convince my potential public to watch the next episode and not the concurrence’s show. So better ratings for a show. Plus promos for shows in the same category if I feel so. Plus advertising. Plus cross-selling – the ones that want to buy DVDs (superior quality + bonuses).

Cannibalism? I do not think so. I was reading last year that the favorite before the Oscars was Spielberg’s Munich. Disney – the producer – took so many protections when making the DVD for the ones that voted that, over 25% of the persons that got the DVD were not able to open it on their players. DRM problems, encrypting etc. And Crash won, sending the DVDs unprotected, without excessive control of the lists etc. On the long term, who lost the money? Anyway the both movies were already on the file-sharing.
Let’s look on the other side also: South Park. Its longevity is based on the fact that it spread the viral way. And on the long way this means good and cheap marketing, so bigger profits.

Put in a sentence it goes like this: placing old content, that either brings little revenues, either none, as a trailer to the present content seems to me a very good way for the big content owners.

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Midtail is the cool tail

We are talking about video and music: In my opinion the money does not stand in the 30 hits of the moment, nor on the tones of home-made stuff. Midtail is the name of the game. Content aggregation must especially be based on that. People don’t go on youtube to stare at bending teenagers, but to see professional content which is not to be found eveywhere: like video clips, documentaries and so on. But especially video clips, let’s be serious.

But what happens when Viacom asks the removal of over 10 000 of videos from YouYube? The big boys from media will finally realize they can still make the games if they know how to play the content card.

My vision about video: it’s more like placeshifting/timeshifting plus a wider variety of preexistent content (like old series, old music, old talk-shows). I do not fully believe in user-generated content when it comes to this side. Or maximum 25% will be user generated content consumption. If before it was composed 90% from mainstream hits and 10% from niche content, in the future it will be more like 40% mainstream hits, 30% old mainstream content, 20% niche content and 10% home-brewed content.

And a question: Will Google remove them or it will start the war with Viacom? Difficult. On other words this risks to be a new Napster, but with a lot lot more financial power? And if this is so, will the big ones from traditional media sign the pact?

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Video killed the radio star, and information overload killed the good user experience

The new MTV.com website

It is obviously some people worked hard to make it and some are still working to maintain it.
It’s just rarely have I seen a website that lodges a so fierce civil war. Meaning that all that beautifully colored content is fighting for my attention. I rephrase: is trampling for mt attention. From the smallest boxes to the video player that start playing by themselves, they are climbing each other’s heads, they are spitting, swearing and they are calling me on a thousands voices, with a thousands offers, each hoping it will stop for a moment my eyes. I feel as if I were passing a tunnel of Arabian sellers that have seen my dollars out of my jeans’ pocket.
And I don’t know where to look anymore and what to do, and I forgot why I had came here and I want to leave.
It’s just that my computer answers slowly the commands, because this website sucks up all my resources. Help!

mtv.jpg

Oh, before I forget… It also has a little animated intro. Very retro…

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Serendipity

I was reading this thing on CNN about the name confusion between YouTube and Utube, the latter being the website of a pipe producer. After taking a look on Utube.com what do I see on the upper side, besides very elegant integrated into the corporate design:
————–
Free Ringtones Shakira Dating Black Jack Casino Games Car Stuff Cheap Trip
Sprint Ringtones Cruise Vacation Poker Concerts Online School Dating Mp3 Ringtones
Verizon Ringtones Ringtones Personals Louis Vuitton Slot Machines Shoes Film School
Cingular Ringtones Extreme Travel Gambling Snowboarding Nissan Cars Tai Chi MORE >>>
————–
Pay-per-click links for the most interesting products for the YouTube generation.
A new revenue stream. And since there are a lot of absent-minded on this world, I bet it is not at all neglectful.

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Smart Combinations

I admit I have always liked combinations. Commutations, arrangements and pure mathematical stuff. If you feel like reading there is more on my personal blog: A puerile-aesthetics theory of the permutational diversity for me (in Romanian).

I spent 40 minutes yesterday reading ads invented with TheAdGenerator. I came across this thing on TechCrunch. A kid’s degree’s project. One takes semantic structures used in ads of our days, places the values of the moment, decorates it with pics taken from Flickr – chosen based on the similar tags and one has the ad. Now honestly speaking, they are not all good, but at least 100 per minute may be generated (that depends also on the connection). Can a copyrighter brag with such a prolificity?

What does that have to do with what we are doing? Well, first of all there is a nice example of algorithmic of what may seem indefinable – human creativity at work. Of course, human creativity means much more in this area – coherent strategy, positioning etc, but we can imagine that after these have been defined, a computer can elaborate 1000 propositions using the brand values selected, from which the discussion can start.

Second of all, it is a clear example of commodity brought by the technology – which before seemed a very rare thing can now be transformed into a routine action. And then you have to come up with a new secret sauce and other twenty condiments. Luckily Gödel proved that there are non-algorithmic zones of mathematics. When it will all be algorithmised, we should start inventing new theorems. BTW, a pretty cool stuff about the “mathematical ideas mining” is in Greg Egan’s Diaspora. Genial author! A must read for info geeks.

PS. There is also a blog of the generators. And there is not much time left before a generator of generators appears. Wait, can it be invented a generator of foods, for instance? Select different ingredients and random condiments, after a table of similarities, of taste-associations etc and then generate a finite number of steps (thermical treatments, blending, chopping, boiling, grilling, freezing) and there you have the finite product. With three “solution horizons”: edible dish, tasty dish and divine dish.

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Biiiiiig biiiiiiig launch! People, come and take “gandeste*.net” !

I told to myself we should launch a blog about the online (together with the colleagues, but after testing a little the market, together with other bloggers seems a good initiative too; let’s see if it will sustain itself by interesting content).

It will be more than a collaborative blog: an open-source! 🙂 Meaning everybody who knows online (from .ro or .com/.net) may write their opinions, announce things and so on. Of course, not exactly like “the well-known company X, with a galactic knowhow has just launched the product that will conquer google/yahoo/microsoft and will change the paradigm in web 999.0” unless it is really like this :))

But enough already with the introduction! The blog is here:

GANDESTE.NET

For the moment it only contains daily sum-ups of the most important pieces of news, plus a few opinions of Livia (who is the mother of blog 😀 ), but we are hoping to fill it with tones of stuff on the long road.

So who’s in?

By the way, who feels like answering the questionnaire but is not on the initially list, is free to do so. And sorry for the omission.

* “gandeste” means “think” in Romanian and the blog will be also written in Romanian.

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What about an Yahoo.ro ?

A man on the street who was smoking right into my nose reminded me (I hate this habit of smoking on the street, BTW) that I have just noticed the first big banner in Romanian on Yahoo today.

It led to an anti-smoking website.

I was already enjoying this and wanted to see through whom is being sold. Actually it seems to be an European initiative, at the E.U. level.

Come to think about it, it makes a lot of sense on the Romanian market. I’ve made some quick calculations and I think Yahoo has almost 80% of the e-mail users market (persons, normally), Gmail about 5%, Hotmail somewhere near 2.5% and all the Romanian providers altogether about 10-12%. The error margin maximum 5 percents of the obtained numbers.

That means that Yahoo is the biggest player on the Romanian market. Guaranteed and surely! This counts from the number of opened and utilized accounts, but also the number of page views / daily users (because everybody opens their email, but not everybody enters classified websites, job sites, dating and other services that demand a log in).

But we all knew that already, didn’t we? The question is: will they use their power to take some other market areas? For instance, a HotJobs on Romania would be a redoubtable competition for BestJobs and Ejobs. Especially since at the time being, because of the penury of good people, the two do not send enough good candidates on the accounts of the employers (I know from my own experience and after having talked with other people and from the statistics on the website – how many apply for the job). So most of the companies would say let’s try these ones too. The move would make sense from the financial point of view if it is to trust the numbers given by Calin in the ZF, for example.

When it comes about dating, it is a little curious. Meaning that the market is into a continuous rotation, it is pretty hard to make money from this taking into consideration the presence of more impressions than inventory in .ro and all those being on websites with better demographics. Plus the average Romanian teenager who, I do not think has more than 50 euros to spend (it would be interesting to know how much, btw). But if, for instance there is a Yahoo-MySpace partnership (somewhere in the future; I know, MySpace is at Google, but for me Yahoo-NewsCorp-(Microsoft) seems a much more normal alliance) it would be interesting that the capitalization starts from here. The impression is that the dating/social networking is much more regional than it seems. Especially with the extend of its use. I think a website for Bucharest only might gather more active users than a global one with Bucharest listed in the search engine profile. And the proof is that Noi2.ro and Sentimente.ro have more profiles than hi5 or the Yahoo dating (on the .ro side, normally).

For the news, interesting also. Would I be Yahoo and I’d feel to enter the .ro, I would make a partnership with a player from the second league of newspapers (regarding the online tops). Like Ziua or Romania Libera.

For adverts there are pretty good sectoral players (imobiliare.ro on real estate, autovit.ro on auto, okazii.ro on general subjects) but I do not think one of them compares to craiglist.org for instance (BTW – craiglist.ro is taken by Ziare Com Srl). My opinion is that yahoo.ro could play pretty nice on this side.

What is the main condition in my opinion? The aggregation of jobs, news, dating, announces in the e-mail interface. This is not very complicated, in fact. I can even give a few solutions (So, the Yahoo gentlemen, if you are reading this, buzz me :)) )

Can Google have the same strategy? Nope! It probably lacks the critical mass, plus the Gmail users are more advanced. The Yahoo Mail-ers lend themselves much more to a one-stop shop approach. MSN? I don’t think so. Or only with bigger-bigger-bigger-bigger expenses. Since for Yahoo the costs would be reasonable, in my opinion. It would be a sustainable business from the first year.
Enough for now, I stop to work a little too. 😉

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The Future of Product Placement

It may be (very) old news for some, but I still can’t help it. Now take a look at what a quality add means: you take a super premium product, an icon (James Brown), an in fashion actor  (Clive Owen), an emblematic bastard (Garry Oldman) and a new-wave director (Tony Scot). You add a serious budget, give them almost ten minutes while they can do anything, adding the humor; let’s not forget the humor.

The result: BMW Short Movie

The introduction of advertising in the high-value content is the future. The ad break is dead. Or almost. Of course, this kind of things with an extraordinary viral potential can be sustained only by mega brands. That when we’re talking superstars. But there has to be other cheaper ways of generating quality content, don’t they? Video websites prove it every day.

The series is called The Hire and the 8 movies have been produces in 2001-2002 with a lot of actors and very well-known directors (details). I am convinced that broadband and transferring entertainment to IP will get more and more similar initiatives.

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See you next year (in E.U.)

2006 has just passe. It was the year of the Rooster blog, like the Chinese would say. Now there comes next the year of the iVideo dragoon. And maybe the year of the Wee Monkey, on the entertainment side.

Actually, let’s wait and see the surprises from Apple in January. I would be tented by a new mobile phone, but I am a little skeptical on this side: too many different standards (GSM, CDMA, DoCoMo), entire areas where phones are sold through carriers (in Japan they don’t even have the name of the producer on them), the market much more mature compared to the one of the mp3 players. But I am skipping the point.

I wish you a very cool year. And may you have time for you. I was thinking these days that because of the hurry it seems that even our joys and sorrows are superficial.

So have fun, people. It’s all about fun, isn’t it? Speaking of that, who feels like going to the Genesis concert in Budapest in June?

And do not forget: People don’t buy drills because they need drills; they do it because they need holes. It’s not about building a perfect drill. 😉

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Site, SuperSite, SuperTrooperSite

The first 15 Romanian banks, having 89.5% of the market, got an average of 64.73 points for online presence (the maximum being 100).

Who is offering a lot of information, who has RSS Feed, who proposes a fidelity package for the young generation, who has a newsletter, who’s the one with most pages, who has mobile banking, who gives dictionary or tutorials? We arrived at the conclusion that BRD has the best online presence.

The things that propelled some banks up to the first places can be read not only here, but also in the press: Banii Nostri, Bank News and Cotidianul.

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