Commentary

Dive Deep With Video Metadata For Major Monetization Opportunities

Metadata is simply data about data.  While it sounds really boring, metadata is the key to unlocking exponential growth in viewership, discovery and monetization opportunities for premium video content.

Like everything in digital media, there are different flavors of metadata, with no standard definitions and a variety of descriptions.  I'm going to muddy the waters a bit and provide my take on this vital component of the video landscape.

Standard metadata (for example asset metadata, attribute-level metadata, static metadata) consists of basic tags that describe a piece of content.  Common tags include title, time and date:  surface-level data that you would see in a typical YouTube video description (for example, "dancing baby").

While standard metadata provides important information, in the era of digital media, we need to dive beneath the surface and analyze video content on a frame-by-frame basis. 

Enter time-based metadata (for example temporal metadata).  This class of metadata provides a frame-by-frame analysis of everything that is happening on-screen throughout the entire film or episode.  Time-based metadata gives you deeper insight into the video because you're analyzing the content at DNA level and providing a digital blueprint of content.  Examples of time-based metadata include categories for actor names, characters, locations, scenes, objects, product placement, genres, dialogue, and subject matter.  It even covers rights, licensing issues (geography, music) and distribution deal terms.  In short, it creates a wealth of intelligence about your premium content that covers thousands, if not millions, of video elements.

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If harnessed properly, this intelligence can drive new monetization opportunities for video content such as discovery, content recommendations and contextual advertising.

Advanced Discovery (for example, search)

What's the value if you distribute your videos to multiple platforms, but users can't find your content?

Time-based metadata allows for users to find an exact match of whatever they are searching for, and get the exact clip they need.

By contrast, traditional metadata search results would return full episodes, not exact clips.  And those episodes may or may not contain the content the user actually wants to access.

Here's a concrete example of what I'm describing, using one of the most popular television series of all time.

Scenario 1: Say you're searching for a particular scene from a particular episode of "Friends," and all you remember is that Monica and Joey are discussing Valentine's Day.  If the episodes were tagged with traditional metadata, your search would likely return every episode of "Friends" that mentioned Valentine's Day and includes Monica and Joey.  Entire episodes, not clips. 

If your search results come back with 10 episodes, at 22 minutes per that's almost 4 hours of content you'd have to sift through to find the exact clip you're looking for.

Scenario 2: Now, let's say the "Friends" library is tagged with time-based metadata.  The same search with the same terms would return results of the exact scenes where Monica and Joey discuss Valentine's Day.

You could then generate a customized clip of that exact scene, or choose to watch the whole episode - and it would take seconds, not hours. 

"Smart" Content Recommendations

With so many videos and so many choices, how do you keep users engaged and "locked in" to your content?

Time-based metadata can power similarly "smart" content recommendations and clips that help build loyalty and increase dwell times and repeat visits.

If you're watching "House" on-demand, your cable system (which already knows you and your preferences) may suggest some of Hugh Laurie's other work, such as "Blackadder."  If comedy is not your thing and you prefer medical dramas, you get steered towards another NBC Universal television series like "Law & Order: SVU."

Simply put, knowing what content is made of allows for better, "smarter," more accurate content recommendations.  This suggestive selling model translates into more revenue for the content holder.  

Contextual ads

If you worked for an airline, would you run an ad that followed a plane crash sequence?  Hopefully not.

When an ad spot is available for sale, it is always best for the buyer to understand what is happening during that content.  Time-based metadata gives advertisers the ability to not only determine where to put an ad break, but also can provide insight on what is happening right before and right after the break.

For example, if a film features two men fishing on a river, that could be the perfect spot for an ad for The Bass Pro Shops.

I'm giving micro examples to illustrate my points, but the larger benefit of time-based metadata is that it can apply to entire libraries of content.  With automated controls in place, it's suddenly much more feasible to generate ad dollars from library and other archival content that is otherwise gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

As you can see, time-based metadata is clearly the more robust solution for premium content holders.  I think you'll see a clear trend of media companies "going deep" and moving toward time-based metadata as multi-platform distribution continues to mature.  As an added bonus, when you "go deep" with time-based metadata, you can more effectively analyze viewership trends and behavior patterns.  Understanding these trends can drive innovation, new types of content, new delivery technologies and new monetization opportunities.

11 comments about "Dive Deep With Video Metadata For Major Monetization Opportunities ".
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  1. J Stein from XXXX, March 15, 2010 at 1:57 p.m.

    This article was insightful. But am wondering how do you actual generate time based meta data? Technically speaking. On the surface it sounds time consuming. What am I missing here?

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, March 15, 2010 at 2:07 p.m.

    The problem with your thesis is that, like virtually all targeting methodologies, it represents further devolution of mass media. You've managed to take the opportunity - and ability - to reach audience in scale, and exchange it for the demonstrated inability to target them instead, despite your insistence to the contrary.

    Next thing you know, you'll be describing click-thru rates of .1% as individually targeted responses accurate to one-in-one-thousand!

  3. Jeff Dickey from Omnichannel Marketing Project, March 15, 2010 at 2:25 p.m.

    Much of this capability exists through the technology of Affine Systems. Affine uses patent-pending, machine visioning technology to dissect each video frame-by-frame to create a deep level of new meta data about each video. This meta data is then merged with other data sets to create brand-safe, highly contextual video advertising avails for video buyers. This method of targeting will, in fact, drive video advertising going forward as the best practices developed in broadband video will be transposed to traditional video as it it also goes digital. As part of this, Affine has initiated a new effort, The New Video Consortium, to begin identifying and institutionalizing these same best practices.

  4. J Stein from XXXX, March 15, 2010 at 2:40 p.m.

    Affine Systems? Ok, thanks for the response.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 15, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.

    There are too many fairies dancing on the head of your pins.

  6. Steven Kingsley, March 15, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.

    Jeff -thanks for the lead on Affine Systems!

  7. Mark Jacobs from Mebox Media, Inc., March 15, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.

    Can Digitalsmiths actually sell this snake oil?

  8. Matthew Shaw from Flimp Media Inc., March 15, 2010 at 9:58 p.m.

    We're still talking about selling ad space in online video? Sheesh. Metadata isn't innovation until you do something innovative with it. Using it to sell ad space? That's like using a rocket engine to nuke a burrito. The Web video industry needs to start expecting more from itself.

    Mike Einstein has it right: metadata would be useful if we could use it to sort through a tremendous library of stock footage to craft a message that is particularly pertinent to a specific audience, and then deliver that message to them. It would be useful if we could gather the metadata from the videos that our target audience watched, cull meta-related stats from their viewing behavior, and use that data to craft our own messages. Those things would be useful.

    But using temporal metadata to sell ad space?

    Seriously?

  9. Steven Sedlic from Kluge Strategic, March 16, 2010 at 3:04 p.m.

    How else would one be able to determine contextual relevance when placing ads in or next to online video when you're dealing with tons of content on a whole host of subjects?

  10. Matthew Shaw from Flimp Media Inc., March 16, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.

    @Steven Sedlic - Sure, if you want to use online video to sell ad space, then metadata is useful. But do you really think that creating video content for the sole purpose of selling ad space is really a sustainable model? Anyone from Hulu care to comment?

    The point is that using video to sell ads is an antiquated way of thinking about the future of digital video. I wish Matt Berry would jump in on this conversation to talk about this -- kind of surprised he hasn't yet.

  11. Scott Singleton from Moon Island Media, March 17, 2010 at 12:47 p.m.

    E-Commerce Solution for Stock Footage Owners

    There is an alternative method to selling your stock footage. Just try to get away from the idea of a microstock company where full control over your stock footage is relinquished. Try to picture owning your own microsite/microstock site without the high costs of development, high bandwith costs, and hosting fees. Emerging web technologies make it possible to own an e-commerce site specifically designed to present and sell stock footage with all of the back office functions to track sales, set prices, and even editing the licensing agreements on each clip sold.

    Chew on this one for a minute fellow videographers and authors. Videography is an art, the quality work performed by every artist should allow full control of stock video assets. If you have a stock video library of clips, want to set your own prices for your artwork, get full statistical tracking of all clip sales, and a host of emerging web technology to do all the back office tasks for you without the high costs,then shoot me an email to chat. singleton@sbcglobal.net

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