Smart Content West: MarkLogic’s Turner Links Data to Smart Content

LOS ANGELES — For Matt Turner, CTO of MarkLogic, the advances of smart content have come more quickly than he could have dreamed, with more and more media and entertainment firms understanding not only the importance of metadata, but finding better ways of organizing it.

Making content smart is the idea that content is in the middle, and there’s data all around it, and it’s generated during every phase, from conception to production to archive to beyond. “Content never dies,” Turner said, speaking Feb. 27 at the Smart Content West Summit.

“Looking at the data surrounding content — and making use of it — is what we’re doing,”

He pointed out several examples of media and entertainment firms making content smarter by working with MarkLogic. BBC worked with the company on their platform, which “threw out the book on how to manage things,” one that looks at all the data around content before it hits different devices and platforms, Turner said. MarkLogic also worked with NBC to produce the “Saturday Night Live” app, which features a depth of metadata that covers seasons, eras, stars, guests and more. The app doesn’t just include all 40 seasons of the show, it includes a personalization engine that responds to what the user is watching, how they watch and predicts what they want to look at next. “It broke a lot of new ground,” Turner said.

All these projects have in common one very important factor, and that’s they did not take a traditional database approach, one that employed rows and columns, “which starts off innocently enough … but metadata is really, really sneaky, and that can bring you down with lots of complexities, new things to define, and that you have to create exact structures for all of your data,” Turner said. “It really starts to bog down quickly.”

Data in siloes isn’t smart, Turner said. Instead, take the approach that data is flexible, and instead of grouping them in fixed categories, use a semantic approach. “It’s the asset information described as trees, the ontologies mapping out and bringing that complexity and richness of metadata into the system,” Turner said. “That’s the recipe for bringing together smart content.”

Media and entertainment firms are adding more and more types of data together, adding finance and sales data, and customer data, along with everything associated with the content itself, Turner said. “When you begin to add more and more information, we’ve actually discovered is not just how to put the data together, but a pattern to make an engine to integrate data,” Turner said, pointing to MarkLogic’s Operational Data Hub, which harmonizes metadata, and indexes it for easy delivery to apps and downstream systems.

“One of the really interesting things about this data hub pattern is … it takes all the raw data, harmonizes it, makes the connections, and … brings it all together,” Turner said. “For us it’s a really big advance.”

Produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), in association with the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council, Smart Content West was sponsored by Amazon Web Services, MicroStrategy, NeuLion, MarkLogic, SAP, Bob Gold & Associates, Ad-ID, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and the Entertainment Merchants Association.