“The companies that will prosper will be those that switch out of lowest-common-denominator mode and figure out how to adress niches”… dixit Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired.
This quote is the ideal introduction to the seventh question of the FAQ: “Does the long tail change anything to the way I should communicate with my target group? “. The answer is, of course, Yes.
The long tail…and the shift to micro-niches…may change your target group. It may change into its own little eco-system of multiple target groups. So the way you communicate, dialogue and message with them may become more specific. And, with two-way communications (Web 2.0) you can also invite more involvement (what Huba & McConnell refer to as “The Participatory Economy”) from your target audiences and you can become closer to their exact preferences, wants and needs (as marketing is about serving these).
Also you can start creating more markets, instead of just serving them because there is so much room for innovation due to so many choices (the long tail is about more choice and more niches, no longer about audiences grouped by, say, age range). All told, communications become more dynamic and rich since we’re really homing in on preferences (so it’s now “psychographics” instead of “demographics”).
I also believe that online fragmented audience is an opportunity to adapt the tone of a campaign to the various sensibilities even if you have a very mainstream product. Humor for instance is very different from country to country and from age group to age group (and even between social groups). The example of the kitkat second life advertising is an example of an ad with a quiet limited niche (but for a mainstream product). It’s clear that such a campaign will create a bigger affinity with the target group than any wide scale TV campaign.
How can you cope with that in media planning? Should you fragment your advertising budgets? In traditional campaigns, the planning happens depending on a socio-demographic target and reach is the key performance indicator. Most online campaigns will use the same KPI. Niche communication will very much depend on the objectives of the campaign and on the creation.
Honestly, I don’t think the media world today is equiped to attack the niche markets (except the online creative agencies). It’s not (yet) in the advertisers and the media planners minds and I don’t feel this will change massively on short term…. in Europe