With More TV Viewers Using a Second Screen, Entrepreneurial Filmmakers Are Finding Ways To Make Money From Second Screen Users, But This Requires An Understanding of "Metadata"

Have you ever wondered how search engines - like Google or Bing, or the search function in YouTube - help you to find content?

Most everyone understands that search engines look at the text in an online post to determine whether that link will be helpful to a user.

But what about images and videos?

What information does a search engine look up to find just the right YouTube video for me?

When I type in "scary ghost fat kid weird people silly cats" - how does Google use that text to find me videos?

How do search engines know what's in the millions of videos online?

The answer is metadata.

Metadata is defined - at its most basic - as data that describes other data.

For example, every video that is posted online (remember video is a form of data) probably has other descriptive data associated with it (the metadata).

At its simplest, metadata about a video will include information about the author, the date created and the file size. And you're probably also familiar with other forms of video metadata. For example, if you've ever posted a YouTube video, you've been prompted to add metadata - like giving the video a title and descriptive keywords.

In addition to this very basic level of metadata (e.g., title, keywords, author, date created, etc.), it also is possible to embed additional unseen tags throughout a video that convey information about what is going on at that particular moment in the video.

This form of scene-specific metadata is rapidly becoming an opportunity for filmmakers to make money.


How can metadata about a particular scene in a video be used to generate additional revenue?

To start with, it should be apparent that scene-specific metadata enables functionality that links a particular scene in a film to bonus content on a second screen. For example, it's possible to offer behind-the-scenes features that play on a second screen in sync with specific scenes on a DVD, as was done with the Oct. 2012 release of the DVD for Ridley Scott's film Prometheus:

So filmmakers can charge extra for access to bonus content that plays on a second screen.

In addition, as explained in a January 20th, 2013 post to Hackfest.TV (reposting a Richard Kastelein article from the Association of International Broadcasting Magazine), there are many other ways of monetizing user activity on second screens.

For example viewers are increasingly watching cable TV along with their portable devices, and traditional on-air 30 second TV spots are being ignored, but users are clicking on a second screen app that lets them research and buy a song download, or garment or appliance seen at that moment in a TV show - and metadata is crucial in making that second screen activity possible.

To sum up, as described in the January 20th, 2013 post to Hackfest.TV: "Itʹs now all about applying metadata not just to a whole piece of content, but individual chunks within it, such as a movie scene or song. Of course, this can be relevant both for production and search/ discovery... but the real value lies in providing contextual data on the second screen — whether that is curated or automated, factual or commercial." In other words, metadata embedded into TV shows is becoming increasingly important as marketers and others are finding ways to profit from the use of a second screen that is in use while a TV program is playing on the first screen.

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