Copycats want their cake and to eat it too

In Bablion, we trust… no one.

Weening Romanian web publishers from the deep muck of intellectual property theft is not likely. Wild aspirations for online advertising revenues and future sell outs drive the need to draw and keep online traffic. Desperate for content, Romanian publishers depend heavily on the editorial content they lift from foreign websites and portals. Is it for lack of writers and thinkers in Bablion? Or, more likely, lack of business sense and too much World of Warcraft?

The future of advertising is here (see below), but it’s not as easy as 1-2-3 as some naive entrepreneurs would like to believe.

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Copy, paste, translate

Unofficially, everyone knows about it. Everyone does it. And they all understand why they have to do it.

In pursuit of greater online advertising revenues, Romanian web publishers are drawing traffic to their websites and portals with fresh editorial content—freshly translated, that is. There’s no cheaper way to provide the constant stream of new content than to copy, paste and translate it. This is done by large and small publishers alike.

It’s a good thing that few outside Romania know Romanian well enough to catch the big publishers in the act. On the other hand, there is not much that can be done in the Romanian courtroom to stop it. Of course, it would be embarrassing to Romanians to be known as widely unable to write or think for themselves. And should it ever become widely known, perhaps, the unofficial old communist-era answer would be “people have to eat” followed by a shrug of the shoulders.

Online advertising revenues, however, represent only one of the motives behind this fabulous indiscretion. Most Romanian publishers hope to sell out and so they need to build a track record of performance. And they are going to pursue their aspirations as cost-effectively as possible. Foreign investors should be prudent; the time for take over has not come and the opportunities are greatly over-valued.

Smecheria si Business

Knowledge, experience and ability continue to be undervalued in most Romanian organizations. Likewise, quality, integrity, professionalism and service are rare. What really matters here and now is the deal, the pay off and the lifestyle. Driving a German car is very important; the hotties dig Beemers, etc. Too often, jive talk succeeds here and street rules seem to apply equally in the office as on the street.

Why should Romanians do things differently? Why make it harder to make it?!

In the short-term, the hustle pays off some of the time. But only in the short-term and if the web publishers can’t afford to wait for the juicy buy out in two or three years, they’ll go out of business or sell out cheap. We’ll be seeing this happen with some of online vanguard soon. Most of these guys don’t even know what a business plan looks like. The party is coming to an end.

More important, foreign investors are not quite as gullible as the locals might like to believe. Potential European investors are aware of what is going on in Romania and they wait to act after a few more rounds of shake ups and shake outs. Those interested in Romania’s online future understand that there are few businesses here that are based on best practice, sustainability and competence. More importantly, they understand the difference between human assets and liabilities.

The State of Online Publishing in Romania

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At IAB Romania, we often receive queries about publishers and we find ourselves in an embarrassing situation. We can’t tell them that the leaders of Romania’s online industry are busy leveling up their characters in World of Warcraft. How would they perceive Romania- if we told the truth?

I regret that I am personally unable to recommend highly trafficked online publishers at this time for several reasons: lack of journalistic and editorial integrity, improper campaign management and lack of third part measurement—to name a few things. But I have not given up hope that the situation will change.

There is going to be one or two more major shake ups in the Romanian online advertising and publishing industry. Behind the curtain, online advertising and publishing seem to be inseparable at this time. Industry leaders will stumble and fall. Some will recover and renew their enthusiasm under different or new brands, others will take their street smarts elsewhere.

Copy, paste, and translate is going to be with us for a few more years. On the upside, the hope is that at least the stolen editorial content is worthwhile some of the time; Romanians are getting good information from time to time. Although writers are presently not paid enough to write, think for themselves or do real research, there is a hope in me that foreign investors will invest in quality, integrity and reputation as opposed to exploit the exploit.

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Stan Faryna
February 23, 2007
Bucharest, Romania

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FEED UPON other popular posts by Stan Faryna:

>> Outsourcing
>> Great Websites
>> IAB Europe
>> Online Strategy
>> Open Source

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About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is a member of the IAB European Leadership Council and National Director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Romania. He is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others. His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnal National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

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