Metadata. It’s a word we throw around the Rovi office every day. As such, I usually don’t think twice before bringing up metadata in conversations outside the Rovi walls, but all too often I’m stopped in my tracks with blank stares or comments like “Huh?” “Meta what?” “Why should I care about that?” This reminds me that metadata can still be considered an esoteric concept to many, even those in “the industry.”
If you’re not deeply entrenched in the business of digital entertainment technology, you may not know what metadata is, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say this – metadata is the single most important ingredient in marketing and selling entertainment content today.
A common definition for metadata is: “data about data.” Although this is a catchy phrase, it doesn’t really help us understand what metadata is and why it is so critical. Even if you haven’t heard of the term metadata, chances are you interact with rely on it multiple times every day. If you use your on-screen TV program guide; shop for music or movies online; or stream content from cloud services like Pandora and Slacker, metadata is fueling the entire experience.
On one hand, enhanced metadata can be classified as the descriptive and visually-rich information that describes digital media from TV episodes to music albums. This includes cover art, content summaries, actor and artist bios, third-party reviews and more. This type of information makes it possible for consumers to search for and find content that is of interest to them no matter the digital platform, be it iTunes or Netflix. Without this data, the digital entertainment discovery process would essentially fall apart. Consumers would find themselves lost in the ever-growing vortex of digital content, unable to connect to new entertainment or familiar content they already know and love.
On the other hand, metadata can be the unique identifiers that assure today’s digital content actually finds its way through the supply chain correctly. For example, the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) , a nonprofit, global registry has developed a standardized unique identifier for entertainment assets – similar to a UPC or ISBN code for books. This further identifies content with metadata, such as title, director, lead actor, and genre. By more clearly defining entertainment assets through a standardized, systematic cataloguing system, EIDR strives to end the mix-up of content at the studio level, the production level, the post production level, the distribution level and ultimately for the consumer.
The combination of enhanced metadata and standardized content identifiers pack a powerful punch for the future of digital content distribution. As the amount of digital content continues to grow, metadata is going to be critical to consumers and entertainment marketers alike. It will be a key conduit in connecting consumers to the right content – that which they will ultimately want to consume, download and purchase.
Hopefully this helps demystify some of the uncertainty around the value of metadata in the entertainment industry. If you are a producer of digital entertainment content, I’d be interested to know what strategies you might be deploying around metadata that will ultimately describe your content out in the digital world.
(Image courtesy of Oliver Widder, Geek and Poke)