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

It is often hard to find ways to monetize your content if you don’t have a good handle of what you have. 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 your 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 other database layout. It should include information such as how many documents do you have and in what formats. Are they in Microsoft Word, PDF, HTML or other text based formats? How many charts, graphs, illustrations or other images are contained in these documents and are they easily extractable. How many videos or podcasts do you have and what are the lengths of each. Also, where do all these assets exist?  And what is it going to take to gain access.

As you begin the cataloging process you may want to add fields of data such as the author name. Often a specific author may have a higher value in certain markets. You will want to add a field denoting the content type. Is it a feature article, an opinion piece, a white paper or video and podcast? Another important set of fields is the year and date the content was published. This will provide you a good handle of the aging of your assets. You would be surprised on how often a researcher is analyzing a period in history and they want to include articles from that time. Often this content is published in certain sections of our publications or is part of a theme such as ‘environment and sustainability’ or ‘From the Editor’s Desk.’ This type of information as part of your metadata is important when you begin to slice and dice your assets to meet the needs of a licensee.  File formats are another important piece of information. When looking at your assets what format are they in:

  • If text – MS Word, HTML, ePub (EPUB), Rich Text Format, Plain Text, Adobe PDF, etc.
  • If images – GIF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, etc.
  • If Audio/Video – MPEG, WAV, FLAC, SWF, WMV, etc.

If you are working with multiple content management systems (CMS) it is important to note in which CMS the content was created. Each system has its quirks and you want to make sure you understand them when it comes time to do any data conversions.

Once you have done the quantitative part of the audit then 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 was your article or video to your primary users and to the business overall?’ ‘How often was it viewed when it was live on your site?’ If users could make comments on the piece of content ‘how many user comments did the article receive?’ Also, ‘how many conversion actions did the article create?’ When I audited my content I often wanted to know did it convert a user. Did they click on a link that took them deeper into my site or did they just leave. There are other bits of information that you may find useful such as the number of outbound links that an article may have, metadata available such as page titles, keywords, descriptions, abstracts, header tags, etc. 

With a comprehensive audit of your content you will have a better understanding of what assets you have and, in the end, how you can generate more revenue from work that was already done.

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