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ad:tech Keynote - Wired's Chris Anderson

Posted on 7.30.2007
Wired Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson delivered the keynote address this morning at ad:tech Chicago. Much of what he focused on was how today's online businesses need to address the long tail.

Anderson cites statistics that show $20 billion in online advertising spend in 2007, while Google accounts for upwards of 45% of that. And to what does Anderson attribute Google's massive success? Granularity - evidenced by their ability to match even the most obscure niche industries with appropriate, relevant AdSense ads. In Anderson's opinion, granularity is the most important part of attacking the long tail and ensuring long-term success. One of his samples showed that the average rating for the #1 television show each year has dropped - at once drastically and then steadily. In the 1950's, "I Love Lucy" was a top show and garnered a rating near 70 - in 2005, "CSI" was a top rated show and rated below 20. But at the same time, people are watching more TV than ever.

So what happened? A proliferation of choices - there are more TV channels with extensive programming on a huge variety of topics. Viewers have more choices and are expressing them. It has to do with what Anderson refers to as "shelf space." The Internet has provided unlimited virtual shelf space, as compared to the past, where limited shelf space proved that only the most popular items or services were worth "stocking." Anderson sees a shift, not just in online behavior, but a cultural shift. Instead of the consumer being accustomed to "one size fits all," they are now demanding "one size fits one."

Those businesses that can address the needs of all, rather than capitulating to the wants and needs of the majority will win. For the online business owner, this boils down to listening. Take off your I-know-what-the-public-wants hat for a while. The Internet has provided the resources to "stock" as many offerings as you can create. So it's up to you, as a business owner, to formulate your plan. And what better way to do that than ask your prospects and clients?
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