The Importance of Video Long Tail: Don't Focus Solely on Opening Numbers

The Importance of Video Long Tail: Dont Focus Solely on Opening Numbers

In the movie world, it's easy to get caught up on the opening weekend box office numbers.  Last year, The Avengers made a staggering $207 million on its opening weekend, setting a record.  The movie would go on to make $623 million in the U.S. alone, and $1.5 billion worldwide.  Focusing merely on the U.S. number, you'll see that the movie made an additional $416 million the rest of the way.  In the movie industry, that means it "had legs."  It played well long after the initial burst of interest.

For the video industry, this is known as "long tail."  Most new videos that do well will have an initial burst where it will collect a great number of views, but then it will flatten out and in comparison to the first and second weeks will be a relative trickle.  That trickle means more than you might think.

Long Tail Views: Videos Have Life Well Beyond Opening Week

I'll take this sample graph from YouTube Analytics of a video I have been given the opportunity to dissect:

The Importance of Video Long Tail: Dont Focus Solely on Opening Numbers

This video shows an initial burst in week 1 of around 450,000, and then it had an additional 581,000 in the second week.  Much of this is due to good coverage on the video, getting a lot of media attention that drew in viewers.  So within 2 weeks the video was over a million.  Then you'll see a steep drop by week 3 when the video's newness and popularity started to wane, but still, an additional 173,000 views isn't bad.  After that, you see a literal long tail on the graph, where the views move up and down usually at a clip of 78-85 thousand per week.  And that long tail will only grow longer with additional video uploads, new fans coming in, fans of the video watching it repeatedly, and so on.

So, in the first two weeks, this video got over a million views.  In the time since, it's getting closer to another million.  While the speed of views isn't nearly as great as the initial burst, the amount of them is still impressive.  And for those of you where views = AdSense dollars, those trickles are very important, working like a savings account in some weird way.

This is what is great about having videos on the internet, because they are always available to watch and can be seen from virtually any device in most cases.  And for those of you who run channels on YouTube, it's important to give those old videos some love with links in new videos and inclusions into playlists to keep the interest going, because those old videos continue to work for you.  That's especially the case if those older videos have some popularity because those too can help out with the new videos if you update their annotations and links now and again.


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Posted in Video Marketing
About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://twitter.com/spykermedia Simon Spykerman

    Excellent point. So many forget about this aspect. I have clients whose videos are bringing in long tail leads three years after release. You can also use YouTube promote to reinvigorate them later and put them in playlists with other newer content.

  • John Fitzgerald

    Great post. The long tail can also be viewed in terms of a video library. Your most popular videos may garner 80% of your channel's views, but your less popular videos should not be overlooked - they are very important for driving more views to your most popular videos, via Playlists, Related Videos, SERP, etc.).

    In other words, the longer the tail, the more views.