Reaching out to the Long Tail

There’s nothing like the web for mass participation. The web delivers numbers that long-suffering TV executives can only dream of.

As Mint Digital’s Andy Bell says, “that long tail curve keeps recurring. But it’s not a cookie cutter – it’s a tool in your armory. You can’t expect things to work to the same formula every time. You have to keep re-working it.”

Andy gives the following examples:

  • Islandoo [Mint’s first commission – a casting site for RDF/C4 show, Shipwrecked]: 40-50,000 people joined and socialised via this network because they were interested in being on the island. Two years on, Islandoo has still been Mint’s biggest project in terms of pages views (35m in its first six months).
  • Buried Alive [project developed for the BBC which won a 360o prize at MipTV 2007]: looked at ways of re-using data that had been buried in the BBC archives.
  • Joseph Choir Search [BBC]: at its peak, 2m page hits a day, and 1,000 choirs taking part. That idea couldn’t work on linear TV because you simply wouldn’t have the space to showcase 1,000 choirs.
  • Unsigned Act [competition sponsored by Orange to find the UK’s best unsigned rock groups]: Mint is creating a platform for 3,000 bands.

For Andy, these projects are just the tip of the iceberg: “the web is uncrowded territory. There are so many new ideas to be uncovered.”

The challenge is reaching out along that long tail of users to create something that is meaningful to each of them:

“With Islandoo, we created a unique social micro-climate with thousands of users. But the downside to that model was that it only made 12 people (the ones who got selected to be on C4’s Shipwrecked) really happy. I’m more interested in replicating the feel of Innocent’s Village Fete or Nike’s Run London – in those situations, everyone’s a winner.”

You and read more about Andy’s thoughts on How to be Generous here. And see a video of his recent presentation at 2gether08.