Internet Marketing Long Tail Bashes the “80:20” Rule

    June 6, 2007

Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson (also the editor of “The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business Is Selling Less of More”) was in Singapore last week for the Media Leaders Series and his Long Tail theory has put paid to Vilfredo Pareto’s 80:20 rule.

An except from the Long Tail reveals how pervasive the Long Tail is, and how it put the 80:20 rule on its head.

Meeting Ecast CEO Robbie Vann-Adib, Anderson is asked what percent of the top selling 10,000 digital music tracks are sold or rented at least once a month.

According to Pareto’s original principle, 20% of Italy’s population controls 80% of it’s wealth.

In today’s context, 80% of car accidents might be caused by 20% of car drivers. 80% of a computer’s resources might be used by 20% of the applications, 80% if your online income might come from 20% of your efforts.

So the Pareto principle should relate to Ecast’s digital music library right?


Vann-Adib reveals that 99% of the top 10,000 tracks are sold or rented at least once a month.

Has the Internet long tail sounded the death knell for the Pareto principle?

Should the 80:20 rule be replaced by the 99:1 rule?

It’s hard to reach any conclusions, but one thing’s for certain: As long as you have a digital presence, given the global reach of the Internet, you are bound to reach someone.

That’s the premise of the “Long Tail”, isn’t it?

Like Allen Funt used to say on Candid Camera, somewhere out there, sometime, somehow, don’t be surprised if someone comes up to you and says “Candid Camera!”. Except in this instance, you will see a transaction completed, even if you’re in an obscure niche.

Perhaps the Internet has collapsed the six degrees of separation into one or two degrees.

The lesson to take from this, especially for newer Internet Marketers is that you need to be out there.

As my friend Sam likes to say, You need to have done something yesterday.

Being out in the virtual market means you’ll have a chance to building a list, closing a sale, forming a joint venture.

As long as you’ve not set up a blog, a website or participated in a forum, you might be as prominent as the Sue Richards, the invisible woman.

It’s hardly a position to be one of the “Fantastic Four” or Fantastic One, regardless of whichever niche you might be in.