Web 2.0 Long Tail and Barack Obama

The “long tail” or “power law” is an often mentioned phrase in the world of Web 2.0. To target the long tail means to attack the tail end of the market, going for niches rather than traditional and conventional large popular markets. It is important in the world of the web because whilst these niche markets have always existed, it was simply too expensive to serve them on a scale that was profitable. The web reduces the cost of reaching these niches, allowing organisations to focus on millions of markets of tens of people, rather than tens of markets of millions of people. Shown graphically, it looks like this:

Barack Obama has done exactly the same with his fundraising. Whereas Clinton attacks the head of the curve, getting a lot of money from a few large donors, Obama has gone for the tail. By using the internet to get a small amount of money from a large amount of people, he has shown how the long tail has beaten the head in terms of available cash. It is only because the internet is such a cheap channel that he has been able to do this – raising $234 million to Clinton’s $189 million (http://www.opensecrets.org/).

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