The Long Tail of Leverage
The internet is filled with a myriad of websites who are all trying to sell something, whether it is art, books, music, movies, golf clubs or even garden gnomes. Some sell the majority of them on the one platform, like Amazon for example, whilst others specialise in one or a small selection like Deviant Art which is a platform for artists to display and even sell their own art. Chris Anderson, an editor of Wired, noticed that Amazon didn’t have a few “blockbuster” products, but rather that the majority of their sales were of a “Long Tail” of items and he has since gone further to say that “our economy and culture is shifting from mass markets to millions of niches”.
Deviant Art is one such niche that according to Wikipedia, has evolved from a community of “people who took computer applications and modified them to their own tastes” into “the largest art platform today”. Since 2006 when Deviant Art began building on the driving forces of the long tail, first by introducing the ability for their community to sell their artwork directly through the site. Either through the free account, that gives the artist 20% of the sale value or the premium account which is a 50/50 split. Secondly, in order to spread word of mouth and to build on their customer base, Deviant Art introduced the ability for a visitor to the site to share any item on their social network of choice.
Deviant Art provides all members with the ability to rate and comment on an artist’s work, which feeds the “what’s hot” page but unfortunately only uploaders can help categorise artwork with tags. So whilst you can search on similar items, you are relying on the fact that only one person has categorised the piece, which goes against the concept of harnessing collective intelligence.
This obviously needs to improve if they are to continue to grow and I’m sure it will, but what they are doing well is pushing the boundaries of innovation. They’ve created a digital painting/drawing program, available in the app store that is fully integrated with their site. Check out the vid below for full details.
So whilst Chris Anderson proposes that our culture is shifting from mass markets to millions of niches, I would like to suggest that the longer this trend goes on that we’ll be shifting from millions of niches into billions if not trillions.