SCMS Forum: Metadata, Taxonomy Strategies Critical to Proving Value of Content Management

CBS, Turner, MLS, ACC, VICE share experiences in archival and media management

The content-management and -storage side of the media business is riddled with challenges, perhaps none greater than that faced by any aspect of the industry: proving its value. So how does a media-management system prove its worth? It starts with a well constructed plan.

From left: Turner Sports Library’s Anne Graham, ACC’s Scott McBurney, CBS Sports Networks’ Walter Raps, MLS’s Jason Saghini, and VICE Media’s Jack Skinner

Take Major League Soccer, for example. The American soccer league houses its external archive of 23 years of history externally at the facilities of Vista Worldlink. However, as MLS’s digital and content teams continued to grow, there was a need for the video archives to be more than just an archive, serving instead as a functioning, useful, and searchable tool.

“We are trying to push our content [out to fans], and we didn’t have a way to easily get to that content and do things in real time,” said Jason Saghini, VP, video content, MLS, during a panel discussion at the SVG Sports Content Management & Storage Forum in New York City last month. “To get that, you have to put together the use case: here is the benefit and the value of this system. It’s really hard to put numbers on that kind of a thing before you are doing it. How do you explain to executives who just want top-line numbers what value this is going to create? That was a struggle for us at the beginning, and we’re getting better. But determining the value of your archive day to day can be difficult.”

A key way to prove a system’s worth, reported other panelists, is to put a lot of effort and planning into the relatively mundane (but immensely important) task of metadata and taxonomy. Logging is a process that tends to be done at scale and can prove difficult to manage across a large swath of workers.

“Consistency is the biggest problem because the loggers tend to be the lowest-paid, greenest people that you deal with,” explained Walter Raps, CTO, CBS Sports Network. “You really have to force them to use fixed fields so that you can make [your data] manageable. If there’s a typo, that asset becomes unsearchable.”

One way VICE Media handles tagging is through implementing an automated system using an automated transcript that is sent through a service provided by the Associated Press. It provides a base from which editors can work, but, even then, sometimes the content may end up with more than 100 tags.

“Is that useful?” said Jack Skinner, MAM manager, VICE Media. “Or are you starting to drown your content?”

Another challenge can be in not having the staff or the resources to dedicate to a robust metadata and taxonomy workflow. At the Atlantic Coast Conference, the video team works with a staff of only three, and the management of metadata logging commonly falls on the shoulders of a single individual to help maintain consistency.

“With only three people in our office, we don’t have someone who can spend that kind of time,” said Scott McBurney, associate commissioner, advanced media, ACC, “We’re all pretty anal about the type of information that’s going into that archive and that it has to be useful and meaningful, and that can be a struggle.”

Although it can be tempting to load up content with as much metadata as possible to account for any possible search that might be needed in the future, the panel of experts advised against overdoing it.

“The sweet spot is where you can have just enough information to find what you need at the right time,” said Anne Graham, assistant manager, media management, Turner Sports Library. “If you put any more effort than that into it, it’s not a good return on investment.”

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