Metadata Madness: How T3Media Is Making the NCAA’s ‘75 Years of March Madness’ Campaign Possible

March Madness may still be five weeks away, but, in celebration of the Men’s Basketball Tournament’s 75th anniversary, the NCAA is using its robust video archive to get fans talking college hoops now.

Through a partnership with its official licensee of championship footage, T3Media, the NCAA has launched a YouTube channel named NCAA OnDemand, with videos linked to All-Time March Madness Voting on NCAA.com, where fans can vote on their favorite players, teams, and moments in NCAA tournament history.

“This helps us get our fans excited leading into March Madness,” says Keith Martin, managing director of marketing and broadcast alliances, NCAA. “We feel this is very valuable to get people thinking about basketball, thinking about the history of basketball, and we can springboard this from a promotional perspective.”

“This is one perfect example of how the years of hard work show that the archive really matters and builds up the live event.” — Kevin Schaff, T3Media

“This is one perfect example of how the years of hard work show that the archive really matters and builds up the live event.” — Kevin Schaff, T3Media

For nearly a decade, T3Media (Thought Equity Motion when its partnership with the NCAA began) has invested significant labor into digitizing the association’s 40+ years of men’s-basketball–tournament content. Since then, the partnership has implemented various initiatives and platforms, including NCAA Vault and NCAA Officiating Track. Today, the NCAA has a wealth of content to monetize.

“Once you get to a place where you have all of the archive effectively, digitally mastered and you’ve got the metadata on it and you’ve put this heavy investment into that process, you get the benefit of all of the option value,” says Kevin Schaff, CEO/founder of T3Media. “Technology and distribution are getting to the point now where fans are starting to see that benefit.”

The NCAA and T3Media tapped into that digitized library to compile various playlists on which fans can vote. Top buzzer-beaters, upsets, and moments are spotlighted in clips on the NCAA OnDemand YouTube channel. Its current content gives college-hoops fans only a taste. New clips and playlists will be released in the weeks leading up to the tournament, which tips off with the First Four on March 19.

In addition to generating buzz, the NCAA OnDemand YouTube channel helps the association establish a strong online and social presence. As easily as clips can be voted on, they can be shared among users on nearly all social-media platforms and help give the NCAA and its sponsorship partners more time in the limelight.

“It’s fun to look at great moments on a YouTube channel, and today I think a lot of customers just assume that content will be there,” says Schaff. “But think of what it would take to do that even as little as two to three years ago. In this case, we can make a really cool connected ecosystem. Let’s put in great moments to spark conversation ahead of the tournament, get that built up, and get it connected to NCAA.com. To be able to tie video, specifically, to this kind of social accessibility together with these other types of properties and initiatives and to be able to do that so quickly, that’s the kind of option value that the NCAA has been investing in.”

The campaign shows the value that comes with a deep video archive with valuable metadata attached can make for strong monetization opportunities.

“It’s great to not have this be a giant, heavy-lifting project,” says Schaff. “It’s awesome to have a 75th anniversary show and not have to have 12 months of planning and digitizing and wondering what content and moments to find.”

Martin feels that this model also sets a precedent for similar campaigns in the future — for men’s basketball and many of the NCAA’s other sports championships.

“This year is a great springboard because it’s the 75th anniversary,” says Martin. “We think there’s some opportunities here that we can continue in years going forward where we can create some promotions and some excitement around the tournament well before March. Next year won’t be the 75th anniversary, but we still want to promote the game of college basketball.”

Results of the voting (Top 15 All-Time Players, one All-Time Team, one All-Time Moment) will be announced in Atlanta during the 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four.