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Wagging the long tail

BY Christian Crumlish | Thursday, March 24 2005

Dave Pollard says the blogging popularity curve's long tail shows that it is "just" a logarithmic curve and not a "power law" curve after all. In Bloggers, Your Audience Awaits and its followup, The Long Tail: A-Listers Maybe Not So Powerful After All, Dave Pollard, the author of How to Save the World and one of the sharpest minds watching the blogosphere questions just how dominant and influential the supposed A list of popular / prominent webloggers actually is.

There is an inverse relationship among A-listers between number of page views and average time spent per page view....

What this suggests is that online advertisers looking for a bargain might be better off investing in a bundle of B-list bloggers, those 2,000 bloggers who each get 1/4 the reader attention of the average A-lister, an average of 60 hours/day of attentive eyeballs.

It also suggests that Shirky's Power Law tends to exaggerate the importance and influence of the A-listers, whose aggregate reader attention is only 25,000 hours per day compared to the 120,000 hours per day of B-listers and 230,000 hours per day of C-listers. In fact, the attention curve above isn't a Power curve at all -- just a simple logarithmic curve with -- you guessed it -- a long and unexpectedly powerful tail. If I'd plotted the whole 5 million active blogs on the chart above it would be 620 feet (200 metres) wide.

By the way, there's no definitive roster of "A List" bloggers. Everyone has their own list and they're all different. Dave works with statistics about the top 100 blogs listed at Technorati but that's just one possible definition among many. Regardless, his insights challenge the prevailing wisdom.