Magnificent Metadata for Mega Sellers
Data quality: the key to successful content marketing and the precondition for transparent and reliable rights management
Magnificent Metadata for Mega Sellers
As early as in 2010, Mark Majurey, Digital Development Director of our customer Taylor & Francis Group, said at the Publishers’ Forum: “Without full and complete metadata and without the capability to output and feed that metadata to the digital supply chain, our titles are destined to be lost in the noise of the market.” He quoted Tim O’Reilly: “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy” (a statement from 2002) and concluded: “Metadata is the key to success.”
Our observation is that even now, almost ten years later, the relevance of these statements is still not clear to the publishing market: High metadata quality is a precondition for ensuring that the associated content/title will be found on the internet – so, it is a precondition for commercial success. Plus, you will benefit from a greater acceptance among your distributors and on web platforms.
But “the noise of the market” and “the darkness of obscurity” are not just obstacles preventing that titles are found in the traditional sense (speaking about a book / title / product on the shelf).
More granular and diverse forms and formats: how to deal with lower margins per product?
Processes in publishing are changing: There is a growing trend for STM, educational and special interest publishers to offer their content in (more) product variants and in a granular form. These companies focus on creating high-quality content; thinking about products and appropriate formats for this content is only the second (and less important) step.
But selling more products and product forms means putting more effort into ensuring that they will be found. Many new product formats have established themselves on the market: e-books, e-chapters, apps, and other software products. And these new formats all need (specific and tailored) metadata: this has to be seen and understood as a key process of the value creation chain at publishers. But the sheer amount of manual effort that users used to perform in the past to associate products with data, texts, and classifications can no longer work, as it is no longer economically feasible.
A growing number of products in a growing number of formats at a higher level of granularity means smaller margins for each of these products. This is why the effort at publishers to achieve high metadata quality for all of these individual (elements of) products has to be reduced.
We’d like to put a focus on two key factors: standardization and automation. Both are elements of Klopotek’s innovations in the area of title management.
ONIX: that’s all done and dealt with … – really?
Standardizing metadata using ONIX 3.0 should no longer be an issue. But the reality is that a number of publishing markets on the globe, such as Germany, are not able to consistently provide and process data in this format. Klopotek still supports ONIX 2.1 and can assist with switching to ONIX 3.0.
It has to be added that adhering to the formal technical data standard is not enough. Classification standards such as BIC, BISAC, and Thema can help publishers to classify their products according to categories that are also known to users and potential customers. Intelligent solutions, such as the STREAM app Classification Manager, can help to reduce the effort for classifying new and backlist titles to a minimum (more information on the cloud-based platform STREAM is available here).
A wide range of formats (still) means a huge amount of effort
Although it has often been predicted to happen ‘soon’, the truth is that EPUB3 has (still) not established itself as the technical standard: Currently, there are at several digital e-book formats competing with each other to become ‘the standard’, and publishers have to – if they want their titles to be available on the various digital reading devices that people can buy – provide their content in at least six different e-book formats. To give an example: If you choose to offer (in addition to a print version) an EPUB, PDF (e.g. Apple Books) and/or a MOBI or AZW file (source in German) (e.g. Kindle Paperwhite) for e-book distribution, central master data such as the ISBN or the price per variant have to be stored and managed in order to be able to provide distributors with data.
Klopotek supports this process by ensuring that it is not required to store and manage this information on the product level, so it is not necessary to handle a large number of (almost) the same products. This applies to metadata management as well as to exporting the product data to catalogs, shops, and title registrations.
AI for better metadata: promising approaches to achieving rationalization
Standardization is one element. An additional factor for establishing more efficient processes is automation: In the area of metadata management, key fields are automated creation and control of metadata and distributing and communicating this data.
Classification processes have already been described above, but there are other options, namely in the area of AI, for creating metadata in an efficient way: automated selection and transformation procedures. These help to provide information to platforms (own platforms or of service providers), to channels of aggregators, and to search engines.
Software that proactively informs about data quality issues
One of Klopotek’s goals is to also support the specific process between creating metadata and transferring this data. So, we created a tool for data quality management: you can flexibly define the steps for quality control for products from first concept to delivery. The system continuously checks data quality and clearly visualizes quality issues, so the users can see at a glance which products are ‘stuck’ in the supply chain at which stage because of insufficient data quality and/or missing information. As a result, time savings can be achieved, because editing efforts can be minimized which normally – without using our tool – have to be made when wrong or insufficient data has been exported to platforms.
Backlist titles are often used as templates for creating new titles in ERP systems without checking in the first place if all metadata will be correct for the new title. And there are various other reasons – such as switching to a new system, adapting to changing market requirements, acquisitions of products from other publishers, etc. – why titles are often associated with wrong or incomplete metadata.
The STREAM app Product Quality Manager makes it easy to monitor and enhance metadata quality, as it provides two views on data management: the (large) title list and the single product level.
From first concept for a title to final check: support for the entire metadata creation process
Klopotek covers the entire process for what Mark Majurey calls “the key to success”. Going a little bit into detail here, the Title Metadata Editor can be seen as a bridge between entering first title information (can be done using Early Title Manager) and continuously checking important title information (done, as described above, in Product Quality Manager).
We offer a large number of comprehensive title attributes which can be used for managing the product structures of versions, editions, and reprints. By narrowing them down and arranging them in the app, you create your own user interface for title management.
But which attributes require adding data at which point in time? To keep a clear overview, Title Metadata Editor provides different flexible scenarios, e.g. ‘Product Release Milestone 1, Print’, ‘Version Release Milestone 2, E-Book’, ‘Standard Scientific Milestone 2’, etc. Each scenario comes with the appropriate attributes.
If you’d like to work with different scenarios for title management that are not part of the standard delivered by us, you can employ the Scenario Manager, an app to design your own workflow. This is done in a simple 3-step process that ensures maximum efficiency and reusability: You first add the elements of our available attributes and arrange them in groups. The second step is creating a canvas: visualize the element groups as desired and define which fields are mandatory or locked. Finally, you build your own scenario by adding your canvases to it and assigning them to a workflow step – done. (You can also configure the tabs and add icons as desired, so the UI of your scenario will support you the best possible way.)
The STREAM apps Title Metadata Editor and Scenario Manager help you to create exactly the title management processes you need, resulting in harmonized workflows and improved data quality, as you decide which fields are mandatory at which point in time.
Challenge component-based business: first step – components; next step – products
As explained above, content is more and more perceived at a highly granular level: as chapters, sub-chapters, etc., plus in a larger variety of formats such as video & audio files, databases, or text snippets or chunks. Bringing to market new product forms requires establishing new distribution models. These models have to provide flexible options for combining granular entities in different product forms.
Some examples are:
- WoltersKluwer Online – provides intelligent, intuitive research options
- Beck E-Library – a platform for students not restricted to the content of one publisher
- FlexLex offered by Facultas – helps with organizing law-related ‘libraries’ according to individual needs
To ensure that we can better support processes relevant for component-based business, Klopotek is currently in the process of developing a module which will be a central hub for planning. The starting point for all planning activities will be the work, i.e. all components and products will be based on the work / intellectual property.
Using a dedicated ‘Components List’, components can be planned, organized, moved, and discarded prior to deciding about their manifestation as an individual title or elements of a product.
As part of this process, all individual components can be categorized and associated with metadata. And only as a second step, components are associated with the manifestations of a product.
More granular content means more complex rights agreements – are you in control?
A crucial element of handling granular content is rights management. In our view, the rights associated with an asset – no matter how granular it is – are a category of metadata.
The growing variety of products and formats is putting a huge pressure on rights management, so related processes should be automated. Klopotek offers a future-proof solution for this. It can, for example, make it possible for educational publishers to always be able to clearly document their exploitation of the acquired rights for the specific assets used in all product variants and formats at the touch of a button:
The STREAM application Permissions and Compliance Manager helps publishers to lower costs, risks and manual effort. This browser-based app enables you to manage every aspect of metadata necessary to acquire licenses, to track their use, and to manage compliance. You will reduce expenses, compliance risks, and vendor costs, while increasing the quality and value of your content.
Accurate data is provided to all people involved in the compliance process – in a simple and straightforward way, automated wherever possible: A central repository ensures data accuracy and availability at all times.
Publishers employing Permissions and Compliance Manager will always have secure access to all acquired assets while the system ensures that the acquired content is always treated within compliance. No other software provider can currently offer a smart tool like this.