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Author: Rajesh Mani |09/20/18

The Importance of Metadata for Media Assets

While the concept of video metadata is probably as old as video itself, universal acknowledgment of its importance has been a challenge.

Video metadata is often used to describe the information about the video and what it contains. This ranges from visible tags to invisible keywords. Explaining in website terminology, a page or article is made search engine friendly by matching a set of words against possible search keywords

A video is a combination of images and audio and needs context setting by associating transcripts and custom descriptions to help people, both end users and media workers, with production workflow. Unlike a webpage or article, today’s consumers will not sift through hours of content. To help viewers discover relevant content and make the video more accessible, there is a need to augment metadata.

Different Types of Metadata

For videos, there are three categories of metadata, each with its own set of use cases that are focused on content discovery.

  • Descriptive

Includes information such as title, year of release, producer, author, abstract and relevant keywords.

  • Structural

Defines how content is associated with other content assets, through thumbnail images and clip sequence (i.e. number n of N). It defines a structure for the relationship of content.

  • Administrative

Typically used for managing the asset – like date of creation, milestone, access rights. But today it is also used for storing rights, both intellectual and digital.

The use cases for metadata can extend far beyond the above examples. Other applications include:

  • The price for Streaming Video on Demand (SVoD) can be managed from this information.
  • The process of transcoding can be tied to metadata. Specific metadata fields allow video processing workflows to be dynamically triggered. For example, if the HD flag is selected, an SD version of the video will not be generated by the transcoding service.
  • The process to break up “premium” and “free” content can also be triggered from metadata; for example, the creation of ad-free HD versions alongside a 480p version that contains pre- and post-roll ads.

The Benefits of Having a Metadata Strategy

The initial development and continued maintenance of a metadata strategy can be time-consuming. However, this must be considered as a long-term investment that will optimize the video content to boost the ROI of each asset. Some key benefits of investing in metadata include:

  • Longevity Extension

In the video ecosystem, new content is always highlighted over the old. In larger content libraries, this leads to long-tail content where older assets become less visible and comparatively harder to access. Metadata aids in the discovery of these assets, helping end users find relevant video content and thereby extending their longevity.

  • Context Creation

Why was this video created? What purpose does it serve? Metadata is a quick way to add such context and ensure this information is present in the video. This is valuable as elements around the asset might depreciate. Consider a likely scenario in the news or documentary sections. A video originally part of an article or series may continue to exist independently long after the other assets lose popularity. The metadata present in the video will help present its background and avoid abandoning by the viewer which could have occurred without this context.

  • Increased Relevance

Metadata can add information about the cast and crew who worked on a video and make this data easily searchable. A viewer might be looking for the work of a specific director, irrespective of the cast and metadata will add value in such cases. While such level of detail might be valid for a movie, however, it can often be buried in serialized content.

  • Historic Record Maintenance

Metadata will offer a central location to details surrounding an asset. Did it use copyrighted music? Where was the stock footage borrowed/sourced from? Information like these can be associated with the video, creating a timeline like structure for the asset making it more accessible. In the case of marketing, each campaign detail associated with an r asset can be stored.

  • Production Documentation

Metadata can be used to capture the granular level of details. It can store information as high level as image resolution to highly specific camera details like aperture, frame rate, shutter speed and more. By archiving such details, people later can reproduce similar setups to match the look for additional content created in the series. This granular approach is commonly used in news and movie production for keeping an update on schedules and progress.

  • Resource Efficiency

Not all video assets need the same derivative versions created through transcoding process. Business rules can be created for a resource to be only available in an HD version, while another can be transcoded in a wide range of versions to maximize compatibility across connection speeds and devices. This helps in saving storage space and saving cost on processes in the long term.

  • Business Intelligence

The Entertainment Identifier Registry Association (EIDR) is the champion behind creating persistent, canonical, unique identifiers for virtually every video asset. This is like the ISBN number in the publishing industry. A unique ID will flow through systems like RMS, CMS, distribution services, DRM and financial and the data associated with the asset in the sub-systems can be tied together reducing overheads in performing proper business intelligence.

Final Thoughts

It is clear that Metadata is crucial for media assets for several business and operational reasons. It can be the basic framework for data governance, and handle integration and migration issues. Metadata can be the primary resource for content monetization. As it unlocks the asset’s value, it mandates management attention.

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