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There seem to be a number of things that influence The Head and The Hit. The sheer volume of content available has made it more unlikely that a high number of, say, movies will achieve Blockbuster status. More consumers with more choices, both for content and when they can consume it (now = theater, later = DVD, On Demand, premium cable movie channel, Tivo) means a Hit need not attain enormous initial box office returns. According to a new poll by AP-AOL, 73% of adults said that they prefer watching movies at home on DVD and VOD (Video on Demand) over going to the theater. Another study by the Journal of Marketing found that studios stand to gain a 16% increase in revenue in the U.S. if they release films in theaters, on rental DVD and video-on-demand at the same time, followed three months later by a DVD sell-through release. The nature of The Hit is changing, and much more attention should rightly be centered in The Tail, but The Head isn’t going away. As businesses figure out where to draw the line between what they and their customers define as The Head and The Tail, semantics and definitions become more important. This is culture shift, which may take some time and never actually be complete.
Anderson’s new edition of The Long Tail has a chapter on Long Tail Marketing, which has significant implications. Elberse’s article is from a more mainstream business point of view, and the view of marketing from there is much like marketing anywhere: “We’ve only got funds to support “X number” of campaigns this year, so where are the hits? We want to put the push behind the hits.” I believe the challenge there is to change the way businesses market and do PR, as Anderson points out on his blog post Long Tail PR: how to do publicity without a press release (or the press). User and customer communities will be critical in The Tail.