Media & Entertainment

How Metadata Standards and Interoperability Benefit the Media Industry

David Vavruška
March 03, 2022 | 10 min read
We are currently witnessing a golden age of metadata management. Businesses now rely on data to guide their decisions more than ever before, and without metadata – the data about data – they would not be able to get much value out of their data to begin with.

Every media and entertainment company should have a metadata strategy

The media industry has been influenced by this even more than most others – where retail relies on data to learn more about its customers or logistics, data is at the very core of media’s existence. Just like in any other industry, media companies create, service and sell products – audiovisual content – which in turn generate data, which, optionally, can be processed to gain additional business value. Unlike in other industries though, audiovisual content also requires data processing that is necessary for proper handling of the product itself. In short, for media companies, caring about data is not an option, but a must.

Therefore, media companies, regardless of their place in the media supply chain, strive for greater efficiency in working with content related data whenever possible.

Current challenges to efficient data management in the media industry

A lot has changed with the advent of streaming services. Studios and production companies (content owners/distributors) like Disney or Paramount no longer produce content just for the purpose of securing TV or cinema distribution, but also release this content under their own flag. Additionally, they distribute selected content among the network of aggregators and streaming platforms for final consumption, whether it be traditional broadcast or video on demand (VOD), in countries where their own service may not operate e.g., Netflix or a localized platform.

These delivery workflows are not harmonized as every aggregator and platform use their own systems and have their own way of processing content in preparation for its release – these workflows are often inefficient and error prone due to their complexity and manual processes so achieving commonality of the metadata and simplifying the processes are key areas of workflow management. For example, when a new series wraps production, the production company assigns the content some (meta)data, and once it passes along the supply chain to aggregators or platforms, the (meta)data needs to be unpacked and adapted to their own systems. Therefore, when content is being transferred from one streaming service to another, the data infrastructure needs to be adjusted to receive it. This process is called translation between ID systems and has proved to be quite costly for companies trying to exchange content.

That is why there has been a call for standardization of the way content is managed and a potential solution was found using content metadata. Standardized, universally readable identifiers based on metadata were created. By getting on the same page about what metadata every company involved should store about audiovisual content, systems in every company located all along the supply chain are able to immediately recognize an intellectual property (IP) by simply reading its unique metadata identifier and process it within its infrastructure accordingly, without the need for an expensive and time-consuming translation.

With the battle for streaming dominance, metadata is becoming a crucial weapon for platform differentiation so any business involved in audiovisual media must have systems in place to handle interoperability with standards while also maintaining the option of managing their own unique metadata.

Metadata does have more unique uses in media though. They are used to support effective monetization through an increasing number of distribution channels. Applications used by media companies can use metadata models mandated by these standards to gain more detailed consumption metrics for content associated with this metadata.

In essence, companies have a clearer picture of attributes of content that interests specific consumers and can better personalize and customize the content discovery for these consumers in the future, so that they can find content easily via such features as lists, searches, and suggestions.

At the moment there are two major metadata management standards that should have the attention of every business involved in media:

EIDR (Entertainment Identifier Registry)

EIDR is an American association made up of a coalition of media giants including Google/YouTube, Sony, Warner Bros., NBC, Disney, Paramount, Comcast, and other media companies of all sizes. EIDR operates a registry which stores a unique ID of every registered intellectual property. The ID acts in communication between systems as a stand-in for a multitude of information such as languages, content segmentation and classification, various used names, release dates or origin of the IP.

A part of integrating with EIDR is always adopting a specific data and metadata model, so that the infrastructure could produce and receive information about content in the agreed-upon form.

Participation in EIDR is considered a given in the USA, where the government actively encourages the use of this standard. In Europe, this standard is much less known, although some companies, such as German ZDF Studios (formerly ZDF Enterprises) have already begun to adopt it. You can read about how ZDF Studios used Accurity to help get aligned with EIDR in our case study. You can learn more about using the EIDR on the organization’s website.

ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number)

ISAN has been a long-standing staple pushed by the International Standardization Organization (ISO), which is responsible for a great number of other widely accepted and sought-after standards. Being aligned with ISAN is a prerequisite to receiving the ISO 15706-1:2001 and ISO 15706-2:2007 certifications.

Whereas the EIDR is widespread in the USA, ISAN is a must have for European companies that participate in the media industry. Over the past several years, with the onset of globalized streaming of content, much effort has been put in ensuring that these two standards are integrated into a larger global ID network.

Much like with the newer EIDR, the core of ISAN is the quest for interoperability. All members of the media supply chain should be able to exchange data without difficulty thanks to mutually adopted ISO:15706-1 metadata model.

ISAN also operates a registry that contains information about all registered IPs which can be used, for example, to monitor content and identify copyright infringement cases, or to distribute royalties more efficiently.

ISAN is thoroughly endorsed as a standard by the European Union (EU) and you can learn how to get an ISAN code on the organization’s website.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that these standards present a significant boost in efficiency and cost reduction to media companies who participate in them. Moreover, with their increasing popularity within the industry, it becomes an extra expenditure item for any company not yet in alignment with one of them. And the future may not just be standardized metadata formats but also the ability to use APIs in conjunction with that metadata for automating the supply chain – Accurity has the ability to have REST API integration and documentation.

In this series of articles I will introduce you to the major standard systems, explain their benefits and differences, and give insights on the impact their use can have on your business.

Whether you already participate in EIDR, ISAN, or you are in the process of deciding which to adopt and how, Accurity can help you with the challenges presented by the requirement of creating and maintaining a metadata model that would allow easy data flow from EIDR’s and ISAN’s systems to yours and vice versa.

If you are interested in how Accurity can help you be compliant with these standards, read our success story from German broadcasting company ZDF Studios, or schedule a demo with us, where we can show you how to achieve this goal.

David Vavruška
Product Analyst