In 2004, Wired magazine popularized the phrase "the long tail" to refer to the large number of specialized offerings that in themselves appeal to a small number of people, but cumulatively represent a large market that can be easily aggregated on the Internet. Plotted on a graph along with best sellers, these specialized products trail off like a long tail that never reaches zero.
How advertisers and media content producers try to reach and serve points along the tail are the subject of an article in Sunday's New York Times. Saul Hansell looks at the start up of Sail.tv network, Internet distribution of video content by established cable groups such as Discovery Communications, and a version of the HGTV network for general contractors as examples of identifying and tending to these slivers of people's interests. The article notes that already there are online video services, including for instructional videos, for hundreds of hobbies and interests as well as growth in Webcasting of local news and entertainment from around the globe.
JumpTV, which is based in Toronto, has evolved into a service that offers live Internet transmission of television station broadcasts from more than 60 countries to expatriates around the world. Among its channels are VTV4 from Vietnam, Channel 10 from Greece, Amazon Sat from Brazil and, perhaps most notably, the original Arabic-language version of Al Jazeera, the news channel based in Qatar.
After you've also read the cover story in Time on how political marketing will look and feel in 2008, put the two story lines together to consider where your organization's communications efforts are headed for the next few years. Which nonprofits will have an online TV presence - not so much for public education and outreach, but to provide additional value to their donors and volunteers? Are government and state agencies reaching specific immigrant populations with disaster preparedness and immunization messages through 'back home' news coverage? How are health and social change advocates successfully aggregating and empowering like-minded people though social media?