Don’t Tell Me What To Watch!

Ever gone on Itunes and seen that sidebar that says “people who have bought this song also listen to,” it’s annoying right? Have you ever wondered why it is there? I have, so I decided to look into it and you know what, it was actually interesting to learn about. It is all to do with this idea of the ‘Long tail’ which talks about the niche markets that make up about 80% of the below graph.


So what does this graph mean? Well, if we look at it properly it is how niche marketing sort of happens on the internet. Before the internet stores could only afford to stock the most popular books, records, movies etc. because it was designed to create hits and make LOTS of money. With the introduction of online shopping, Niche markets for more obscure products became available. You can now find that movie Sharknado that we all love and want to see somewhere online to watch or rent.

This Idea, as good as it is does annoy me. Just because once in my history I bought a book called Economics for dummies doesn’t mean that all the suggested Items for me should involve economics. The Idea needs to be refined with personal searches from the recent past factoring into the selection of suggested items for you to look at. Ads on the internet use the same premise as the suggested items column on most online shopping websites. The right side of your Facebook should be filled with Advertisements tailored to your profile.

All these Advertisements and suggested Items are, and the long tail is a great idea, BUT I still hate all of these advertisements and stuff being on my screen. I don’t like being told this is for you when clearly it probably isn’t. So my solution to this was Ad Blocker plus, give it a try if you really hate this stuff like me ^_^.

Reference list:

Karch M, 2008 What is the Long tail and How Does It Apply to Google,, Viewed 15/09/13

Image sourced from

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9 Responses to Don’t Tell Me What To Watch!

  1. nat224 says:

    I remember my business studies teacher mentioning this concept in year 11. He asked what kind of ads were on our Facebook profiles. I said I had one for M&Ms… he said I must have liked their Facebook page. Clever move by them. However, this doesn’t explain why as I write this I have tupperware ads on my sidebar. I agree that it is very annoying. The advertising by niche markets needs to be better directed, because like you I get frustrated by these ads and never want to buy tupperware just out of principle! The long tail works in theory but it still needs some work as it lives on the internet

  2. I agree that advertising recommendations can be quite generic. But I do believe, despite their pestering, that they have some benefit. It is undeniable that we live in a vast landscape of content and we need a way to navigate through it. When effectively used, it can be like link-surfing on Wikipedia driven by a user’s curiosity. Aggregation is key to developing content online and the engine uses what information is has about you. Twitter uses keywords you tweet, such as a band, to aggregate advertisements (

  3. elisetesta93 says:

    I kinda of like the suggestions sites give you, sometimes they are relevant and it helps you to discover similar things you might like. As O’Reilly states the service gets better the more people use it, so the more people who buy certain products the more tailored these suggestions are to your wants and needs.

  4. Like you, advertisements on sites have frequently annoyed me and sometimes they don’t seem to make any sense at all. When I started working at the Shaver Shop, Facebook started giving me ads for new men’s electric shavers. They probably could have thought that one through a bit more.
    Studying the Long Tail, though, has given me a new found appreciation for the duties these ads fulfill. As you observed, the ads cater for niche markets which crave more obscure products. This article is really worth a read: It’s a conversation between Chris Anderson, Dave Goldberg (General Manager of Yahoo Music), Tim Quirk (VP of Music Content and Programming at Rhapsody) and Bradley Horowitz (VP of Product Strategy at Yahoo). The discuss the Long Tail and how it impacts on their respective businesses. Quirk even explains the recommendations which appear after viewing an item; “When we build an algorithm that’s going to make recommendations, we base it on connections that subjective human beings have drawn between artists, albums, tracks, and genres. Also, our general approach is that, when we have to run an algorithm on large batches of material, we then go in and hand-polish as many of the results as we can to make them as perfect as possible.”
    It’s quite long both worth a flick through.

  5. bparsons104 says:

    I have to say, I don’t shop online so I miss out on seeing the recommendations that sites give you. Though I have noticed them while I use Facebook and for the most part I can ignore them, but its a little hard when they turn up in your news feed. I found an article (while being two years old) which indicated that eBay was looking to improve the recommendations that were provided to a shopper, So while it may not be perfected, some companies are looking to make the long tail as beneficial as possible.

  6. ellkae says:

    I completely agree with you, sometimes the way these sites typify us as generic is almost insulting. You get told that you ‘may like these’ because people ‘just like you’ do, as if they know who we are and what type of person we are based on the behavior of ‘similar’ others. Although these sites have the ability to expose niche products to audiences, how can one reach niche products when the aggregators simply guide us to the popular and generic products? Kelly (2008) rightly suggests that a work has no value unless it is seen and that these online spaces are therefore creating an abundance of worthless unfound masterpieces. (

  7. youfoundbec says:

    I am the complete opposite of this, I LOVE the recommended lists, that’s where I find the best stuff! But unlike you, I generally seem to get recommended relevant stuff to me, maybe I’m just predictable though 😛 This was a really informative post and simplified the concept of the Long Tail so it was easy to understand.

  8. jthornton96 says:

    Oh my god you said it. I hate those bloody suggestions!! Partly I believe this is because I never really use those websites, so the few times that I do it reaches back to my Year 12 days when I needed books on Alexander the Great or Shakespeare -_-. Despite this, I can definitely appreciate the genius behind this, and why it is no surprise that the inventors of this have made truckloads of money. But it represents the ways that our online world is heading. Piracy has meant that businesses are now required to offset the drops in their sales through indirect wealth creation methods, i.e. ads, and we the consumers are forced to put up with it. So arguably, it is we, the torrenting, pirating generation who are to blame for this flood of ads. We’ve made our bed, now it’s time to hit the hay…

  9. Gretel Ann says:

    I am on the fence about how sites do this, and it happens everywhere! Even on fashion websites, but I think it can be helpful, and sometimes I am genuinely interested in what they offer me. On certain fashion sites, they advertise to me certain clothing that is similar to the clothes I have been looking at, showing me things that would suit my style and taste, same with music and novels. And they must work, as people click onto them boosting their profits and audience. Although they definitely annoy you after a while.

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