Is There a Content Audit in Your Future? If Not, There Should Be!

How can you find new ways to monetize your content if you don’t have a good handle of what you have? The obvious answer: You can’t.

To extract the most value from your content, especially when embarking on an effort to license your content, you need a clear picture of what and how much content sits in your databases, archives, and anywhere else you store your content. You need to look at content of every type, text, audio, video, images, etc., as business assets. And from time to time, you need to conduct an examination of those assets to assess both quantity and quality.

The content audit is an important process. Just as you would not go through the years without a periodic audit of your business financials, you should not let too much time pass without a periodic audit of your content assets. The objectives of the content audit are to provide you and all the stakeholders in your business with a clear understanding of what you have and what can be monetized.

The audit can take the shape of a spreadsheet or another database layout. It should include information such as:

  • How many content pieces do you have and in what formats?
    • Is your text in Microsoft Word, HTML, EPUB, Rich Text Format, Plain Text, Adobe PDF, etc.?
    • Are your images formatted as GIF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, or a combination?
    • Are your audio and video in MP3, MP4, MOV, WEBM, WAV, MKV, etc.?
  • How many charts, graphs, illustrations, and other images are contained within these documents and are they easily extractable? Do you own the rights to these images?
  • How many videos or podcasts do you have and what are the lengths of each? Where do these assets exist, and what is it going to take to gain access?

Normalizing your data

As part the cataloging process, check the fields or data you have—and what might be missing.

Typical fields include the author name, content type (e.g., feature article, opinion or column content, white paper, how-to video, podcast interview), and the date and year the content was originally published. If you are a publisher, you likely have metadata related to frequent sections and topics of your online/offline magazine or newspaper, such as “environment and sustainability,” legal and regulations, or future forecasts. This type of information is important when you begin to slice and dice your assets to meet the needs of a licensee.

You might think older assets are extinct, so to speak, but you would be surprised how often a researcher analyzing a period in history may want to include articles from that time.

Once you have done the quantitative part of the audit, you can begin to look at the qualitative aspects of your content. One important question you should be asking, whether you license the content or not, is how useful the article or video was to your primary users and to the business overall at the time it was published? How often was it viewed? If you allowed reader comments, how many did it get?

One of the most important metrics is whether a given article prompted users to dive deeper into your site. Better yet, did it prompt them to sign up for your newsletter, webinar, or conference? If you had other metrics around conversion in your organization, they are equally critical.

A comprehensive audit of your content, if you haven’t done it already, is the first step in understanding how you can generate more revenue from work that was already done.