Your In-house Keywording Is Just Fine – Or Is It?

Keywording in-house, rather than using an outsourced solution, is often a good fit.  To make it even better, consider having your work audited.  It will keep your keywording in line with industry trends, and highlight areas for improvement.

Whilst in-house keywording teams have the advantage of learning the exact idiosyncrasies and nuances of the system being used, there is a danger that the system itself can be left behind by what is happening elsewhere in the world of metadata, or can become too well suited to people inside the organisation, rather than the general public.

In celebrity keywording, for instance, there is a trend towards including designer labels in clothing descriptions.  If your keywording doesn’t follow that trend, you may find yourself being eclipsed by competitors.  With stock keywording there has been a trend towards more conceptual words, and tighter keywording to better-focus search results.

It should be remembered that as an image or video library grows and changes, so do its keywording and metadata requirements.  A library of 10,000 items is a totally different beast from one which is 200,000 in size, where more elaborate systems are called for.  Customers’ requirements will also change over time, as will the standard of keywording being offered by your competitors – sales can suffer dramatically if you don’t keep up with these changes.

You may also find that at some point you want to submit to larger image and video aggregators such as Getty Images, Alamy, Corbis or Framepool.  If so, the in-house system you are using may be well off the mark for meeting the requirements of these companies – in fact that’s almost guaranteed.

With particularly small teams of keyworders – down to a single part-timer for instance – there is a danger of capture and keywording drift.  What that boils down to is that the person keywording, left to their own devices, decides entirely what should be done for better or worse and that standard may not be what was originally envisaged.  Worse, there can be drift in the way keywording is carried out, the vocabulary being used and so on, so that keywording in older parts of the archive is totally out of step with newer parts.

In all of these cases, the best way to stay on track, and get the keywording you need, is to get someone from the outside to look at what you are doing, sample various parts of the archive and report back.  If everything is humming along nicely then it’s good to know that.  It’s even more important to know about the problems so you can address them before throwing more money down the drain on inadequate work.

And because the critique is coming from outside the organisation, it is likely to be an easier message to deliver to colleagues who you also regard as friends.

Perhaps you already know of a metadata professional who can audit your keywording for you.  If not, try talking to keywording outsource companies and see if they will do an audit for you.