Most of us would agree that we place a lot of stock in originality. Original ideas are generally considered to be more valuable, but being original is a risky strategy online due to intellectual property (IP) theft, piracy, and copycats. As a result, many entrepreneurs and businesses are starting to value the safe and familiar in the online arena.
Data Theft Is Rampant
If you manage to build a website that becomes popular and starts pulling in large volumes of traffic, it is inevitable that people are going to want to scrape data from you. Data is a valuable commodity in today’s market and, for those in a position to monetize it, the potential returns are enormous. A website that is truly original is a rare thing today, but it can still be a million-dollar idea if you manage to pull it off.
Not only this but unless there is something unique about your idea that you can also copyright or patent, you are going to have to deal with people ripping off your work as quickly as you can produce it. Data mining makes it easy for anyone with enough determination to find out what makes your website tick under the hood.
Good Ideas Are Valuable
Of course, good ideas can be worth a lot of money. If you have an idea and a clear path to monetizing it then you might think that you’re all set. However, as we are all increasingly learning, as soon as a good idea emerges onto the wider market, it is immediately liable to be poached by thieves looking for an easy shortcut.
According to a report published by CNBC, as many as one-fifth of all US businesses have had their intellectual property stolen in the last 12 months.
China’s disregard for international norms when it comes to copyright enforcement is nothing new. However, as the nation’s technological capabilities have advanced, so too has the efficiency with which it can infiltrate American networks and steal IP as well as trade secrets.
China has been able to successfully steal products of every conceivable type. Both tangible physical products and more abstract digital services have been replicated by Chinese manufacturers.
SEO Is Not Friendly To Niche Websites
Original ideas online will either go viral and explode in popularity or they will fade into obscurity. Unfortunately, the way that Google’s SEO algorithms work means that websites catering to niche audiences are always going to have a harder time reaching a wide audience.
It’s hard enough anyway to take a niche idea and turn it into a profitable product or service but when your SEO is a constant uphill struggle, things are even harder. This is why most artsy and truly original sites never emerge in the top search results.
Even if you have the time and resources needed to overcome this barrier with a comprehensive SEO strategy, you will then have to deal with the problem of copycats. Asking people to risk their money by investing in new and untested ideas is one thing, but it is an even tougher sell if investors know that the product they are investing in will be copied as soon as it is possible to do so.
Social Media Influence
Social media platforms are absolutely essential tools for digital marketers working today. If you can gain traction on social media and start trending, you can appear in the feeds of millions of people. However, as soon as something goes viral on social media, someone will come along to copy it.
The result of this is that content that has been tailored for SEO so that it appears as high in the results list is seen, and copied, much more frequently. Ultimately, this leads to the same pieces of viral content spawning endless copycats while popular organic content is much more likely to burn out and fade away.
This has led directly to the rise of the modern echo chamber, a reference to social media’s ability to simply echo the same opinions and views that we are receptive to. Original thoughts and ideas that don’t fit into established paradigms are therefore much less likely to gain traction and much more likely to fade away into obscurity. This phenomenon has implications for digital marketers.
Not only are successful social media marketing campaigns likely to be copied by competitors but original campaigns have a hard time getting shared widely.
Is It Better To Not Be Original Online?
Given the costs and risks involved in developing niche products and websites and the ease with which a fully-formed idea can then be stolen by a competitor, it is understandable that some businesses are starting to conclude that it is better to just play things safe and stick to what they know works.
There is still plenty of room for original ideas and you can make a lot of money from the right idea. However, it is looking increasingly like being original online is risky, whereas being original offline can still pay dividends.
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