Rethinking the Long Tail Theory: How to Define ‘Hits’ and ‘Niches’

Great article on the power of the niche – or perhaps the lack thereof. At the very least a healthy debate. The Netflix $1mm Prize will have so much more outcome than just a new recommendation system for Netflix. It is surely a form of crowdsourcing research!

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Published: September 16, 2009 in Knowledge@Wharton 

Using data on movie-rating patterns, new Wharton research challenges current thinking on the Long Tail effect — a widely publicized theory that suggests the Internet drives demand away from hit products with mass appeal, and directs that demand to more obscure niche offerings.

In a working paper titled, “Is Tom Cruise Threatened? Using Netflix Prize Data to Examine the Long Tail of Electronic Commerce,”Wharton Operations and Information Management professor Serguei Netessine and doctoral student Tom F. Tan pull information from the movie rental company Netflix to explore consumer demand for smash hits and lesser-known films. Netflix made its data available as part of a $1 million prize competition to encourage the development of new ways that will improve its ability to introduce customers to lesser-known titles they might find appealing.

Read the whole article here

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