Why online has the advantage with the mass of niches

Chris Anderson made a strong impression on me with his great book “The Long Tail”. As pretty much everyone knows, it’s about how the long tail to formed and we are no longer tied to the mega-hit. The sum of the tail can be just as big as a hit. That same concept applies to using media to target specific audiences. Traditional media used to be the way to get reach and frequency and online was never in the same sentence. 

That has all changed with the concept of mass individualism. Individuals who used to be seen as “outcasts” no longer have to rely on geographic location to find like-minded friends. The internet enables them to find people near and far with similar interests. We can thank MySpace really, for making that the norm. I may be be thousands of miles apart, a different race, 30 years younger and have a much lower income than “Phil” who also likes The Black Crowes. According to the premise of MySpace, we should be friends since we have a common interest. This concept quickly grew and Facebook went one step further and said you should be friends with people you actually know, but another post.

Now there are thousands or groups and interests that equate to a big audience.  These niches are based upon common interests expressed through the internet. From a marketing standpoint, the question is quickly becoming, how do you reach them. How do you reach the mass of niches? The answer is not traditional media. The media landscape has already fragmented and traditional media outlets mostly missed the chance to innovate. Digital media on the other hand is in a much better place to be able to aggregate the niches to hit the masses. Ad networks aggregate sites and forums aggregate individuals with similar interests to name a few ways digital can create a “mass of the niches”. 

Traditional media will not go away, it will change and still be effective for certain brands/products/campaigns. It just won’t be seen as the only way to reach the masses as we have seen, there is a new mass and a better way to speak with them.

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