What’s metadata? For the uninitiated, fear not – it’s pretty simple. It’s the information that sits behind all the digital files we use on a daily basis.
An image? Yes – it has metadata telling you when it was taken, what spec and file type, even on what type of camera and what is pictured. A document? Absolutely – author, time created, revision number, keywords contained, and more.
So why does this matter so much to the modern in-house marketer or agency pro?
It’s because of the huge volume of content we have to deal with on a weekly basis. Metadata is a secret weapon to be able to manage this better and become much more productive at work as individuals and as teams. Especially when we deal with content that’s created and shared between multiple parties internally and externally.
How’s metadata used?
Some of the best marketing tech out there helps to make sense of metadata. Forget the jargon; this means you can boost the efficiency, collaboration and performance of your marketing, comms, design and commercial teams and agencies.
Here’s an example.
Imagine I’m a marketing manager for a well-known business in the travel industry. We’re brilliant at content and campaigns and we’re constantly publishing and distributing hundreds of pieces of content a year through several channels. This means we’ve built up a library of tens of thousands of images.
I need photography of tigers for a new campaign. I know we have something that will fit the brief, avoiding the time and financial cost of commissioning or buying new imagery. But how long will it take me to scour the tens of folders and sub-folders on our system, each full of hundreds of images?
Enter image recognition. Built into marketing software called digital asset management (DAM), image recognition can auto-assign keyword tags – such as ‘tiger’ or ‘jungle’ – to your image files. It’s these tags that are stored in the image’s metadata and make those images searchable by text.
Understanding how successful brands use metadata in DAM
Digital asset management is enabling marketers to use metadata to their advantage through image recognition, facial recognition, text recognition, and video transcription. The software scans your files and assigns keyword tags – words that you and your team will search for. You can add metadata too – for example, assigning the name of a brand ambassador or executive to a photograph of them, meaning all further photographs featuring them will be tagged and searchable.
If you have a lot of digital files that need to be stored, shared or retrieved, it’s the logical solution.
Metadata allows you to search for assets based on specific criteria, such as keywords, file types, creation date, author and other relevant details. This helps you to find the right asset quickly and efficiently, saving time and effort. You can organise assets into categories, tags or collections. This allows you to locate related assets and group them together, making it easier to manage and share content with others.
Metadata also boosts efficiency and accuracy with statistical analysis of your content. In other words you can gather insights about asset usage, such as which assets are most popular, who is accessing them and how frequently they are being used. This information can help you to optimise asset management processes and improve overall efficiency.
A further use case – one of my favourites – is how metadata is used to track the version history of a file, allowing users to access previous versions or restore a previous version if needed.
But AI will take care of all this, won’t it?
It’s time for every marketer and creative to transform the way we work with files beyond old filing systems – we started in cabinets, then moved onto our computers without much evolution.
Placing all your brand’s assets into a digital asset management (DAM) platform is the first step toward gaining operational efficiency, scaling content production and unifying teams. Making your assets searchable within this type of centralised library means your teams can find the content they need.
With AI stealing the headlines, marketers should consider how brands such as Gymshark, LinkedIn, and Sony Europe are already using DAM. A well planned metadata strategy, supported by AI-based tagging and other tools in a DAM platform, can help transcend old ways of managing digital content.
Yes, keep things organised in your folder structure, but liberate your assets and make your digital asset library search as quick as a Google search.
While many people now await the rise of new AI tools to help them to do their jobs, the use of metadata within DAM platforms is tried, tested and depended upon. AI will undoubtedly have an evolving role to play in how metadata is created and used when collecting and curating digital assets. But right now marketers should focus on understanding what it is and how it can boost efficiency and collaboration.
Overall, metadata is an essential tool for managing digital assets effectively, enabling users to search, organise, control access, track version history, and gather insights about file usage.
Do you want to become a better marketer and learn more about metadata and how it works in DAM? Download our free ebook.
Erica Gunn is chief marketing officer at Canto.