What exactly are metadata?

Metadata are descriptive information about the content of a particular object. Files such as images, videos, documents, animations, etc. are described with metadata and thus become digital assets.

Let's take an image as an example: Here, technical metadata provide information on image size, color space, time of capture and, today, usually also location and creator. This is supplemented with a description of the image, details of the subject and other information, whereby AI-based services can also be used. With all this information, the digital assets can be classified into different categories and thus create a context to other assets. Without ever having seen the image, you can use the metadata to roughly imagine what is shown in the image.

In the case of a text document, such as a book, you can find information about the length, the author, when the book was written, in which language it is available or a short summary of the content. Just as with a picture, you get a rough idea of the book's content without having to get your hands on it. Readings at online bookstores are, among other things, a reflection of the metadata.

Likewise, web pages also contain metadata. The meta tags «description» and «keywords» are usually used to describe the content of the web page. Especially in the context of SEO topics, this metadata plays an important role.

In the case of digital assets, information on copyright protection is also often included in the metadata.

A central element in the development of a metadata concept is the mapping of the company's taxonomy, consisting of all the keywords that matter to the company. Ideally, this collection of tags is structured hierarchically and made available in a digital asset management system – preferably in multiple languages. Why? If a particular asset is tagged with a sub-keyword, it will also be found in a search for the associated generic term. And no matter in which language the tagging is done, the search in other languages is automatically performed as well.

Well-structured metadata is the foundation for fast, complete, and accurate search results – in the DAM system and in all connected output channels. Metadata puts assets in context with other assets and helps us structure, organize, and most importantly, find digital business assets.