What’s the definition of a tool? A tool, in the most basic sense of the word, is something that makes accomplishing a task easier. Today, tools aren’t simply the hardware piled up in your garage or toolbox. Today, each of us use tools so complex and efficient that the inventors of the hammer, saw, or nail would be speechless. Some of these are extremely complicated hardware (ex. Computers, phones, headphones, VR headsets), but the software that makes this hardware helpful is in and of itself a tool.
By definition, a digital asset management (DAM) program is a tool. They are meant to make your life and the lives of all the end-users within and without your organization easier. Like a computer, a DAM program is a tool made up of different components that work together to achieve its purposes. Other tools can be connected to your DAM program through integrations, building further on the overall productivity it offers your team.
To make these integrations work, however, you must ensure the more foundational components of the DAM program are properly implemented. One of the most impactful, if not the most impactful, components within a DAM program is metadata. Metadata can make your life easier in more ways than you can count, but one of the most significant is the fact that it allows you to dynamically organize, access, and distribute assets using language unique to your organization.
If set up right, metadata can boost the efficiency and effectiveness of not just your DAM program, but all the other tools you connect to it. If metadata remains unorganized, however, your organization will struggle to get proper return on your investment into tools like DAM platforms and others that integrate with it.
In this article, we partner with INFLCR to outline how to use metadata to get the most out of the tools connected to your DAM program. INFLCR is a content distribution platform trusted by over 200+ elite athletic organizations to organize and distribute photo and video content to their mobile app used by over 100,000 athletes.
Understanding Metadata and its Impact on DAM
You may be asking yourself, “What is metadata?” That is one of the most important questions you can ask when it comes to succeeding in digital asset management. Metadata is the foundation of many of the most impactful workflows and tools DAM programs have to offer. In the most basic terms, metadata is simply information about your assets.
Some of this data is specific to the individual asset, created with the asset, and some is custom to your organization, applied to the asset later on. Both types of metadata are extremely important to ensuring your end-users can find, organize, share, and distribute assets more efficiently than before.
In the example above, the metadata listed on the right-hand panel describes the asset using words and phrases that make sense to the people who may need to look for it. Using this metadata, users can search for assets and quickly find them or sort through large groups of assets quickly to find the perfect asset for their needs.
Using this metadata, organizations can also have other tools connected to their DAM program, like INFLCR, find assets, pull them into a new system in an organized way, and distribute them to users quickly and automatically.
For instance, upon upload or import, INFLCR will scan all files for EXIF and IPTC metadata that contain the names of any users on the team you uploaded for. This prevents the need to rely on facial or number recognition or manually add tags to ensure images and videos are sorted for your athletes and easy to find.
As you can see, if metadata is not applied to assets in an organized and standardized way, the DAM program and the other tools connected to (such as INFLCR) it will not be as effective. For this reason, it’s extremely important to develop and document a unique metadata strategy for your organization and use it across all your connected systems. This will ensure consistency, accuracy, and efficiency within every tool that manages assets.
Best Practices for Metadata Standardization
In order to get the most out of your DAM program and the tools connected to it, your metadata needs to be organized and standardized. Below, we’ve outlined the best practices for organizing and standardizing your metadata, along with examples from INFLCR of how organized metadata enables greater value from integrated technology.
Developing a Custom Metadata Taxonomy
As we mentioned earlier, some metadata is created immediately with the asset (“embedded metadata”) and other metadata is added to assets later on (“custom metadata”). Typically, custom metadata is far more impactful on your DAM workflows than embedded metadata due to your ability to determine the format and application of custom metadata.
As Uncle Ben once said, with this great power comes great responsibility. Without structure and organization, the custom metadata attached to assets can create clutter and noise rather than efficiency and organization. To ensure that metadata is created in an organized manner, create a metadata taxonomy. You can learn more about building a taxonomy in this article.
A taxonomy, while being helpful to your DAM program as a whole, also makes adding new tools that use metadata to organize assets far easier. Inconsistent metadata across teams or photographers can result in various levels of accuracy for tags detected in INFLCR. If all teams adopt the same metadata standards at the start of the year, distribution and organizing becomes much easier.
For instance, let's look at the 2012 Bengals roster. Two of their standouts on offense were Benjarvus Green-Ellis and A.J. Green. If a photo comes in with the last name Green in the metadata or file name, INFLCR would tag neither athlete as there are multiple matches. However, if proper separators are applied and/or the metadata includes first name, the correct athlete would be identified.
Green-Ellis_004.jpg would tag correctly because a hyphen isn't a separator, it's treated as part of the name. Green_004.jpg would only tag A.J. Green if he's the only Green on the team. If you're taking the time to add custom metadata such as persons shown, you might as well make sure they are detected correctly in all the platforms you utilize. This requires keeping your master keyword lists up to date and understanding what kinds of metadata is accepted by the tools you’ve integrated with your DAM platform.
Mapping Metadata Fields
When multiple tools are searching for specific pieces of metadata in order to find and organize assets, it’s important that those tools know where to look. For both embedded and custom metadata, the information itself is organized into different categories. For embedded metadata, these fields are called a metadata standard. The most common of these standards (for photography) is called the IPTC metadata standard. IPTC has fields for image description, keywords, persons shown, location, and many more.
Custom metadata can be added to assets outside of a DAM platform using the IPTC standard fields, or it can be added to assets within a DAM platform using custom metadata fields. No matter what, it’s important that all of the IPTC metadata fields and the fields within your DAM platform are properly aligned so that the tools searching through these fields are looking in the same places for the same pieces of information.
This process is called metadata mapping. Making sure your metadata is properly mapped is vital to making the most of your integrated tools. If you do use custom metadata outside of EXIF or IPTC fields, INFLCR will not alter this data upon upload. It may, however, not detect the person information you want it to unless that field is mapped back to EXIF or IPTC caption, description, keywords, or persons shown fields.
Align Metadata with Core Asset-Related Workflows
Much of your metadata taxonomy will be made up of words and phrases specific to your organization, your products, your people, and the way you do business. This is important because that language is how your users naturally think to search for assets, ensuring their experience is simple and efficient.
Along with this company language, ensure that the way you talk about your workflows and processes is captured by your taxonomy. This way, the documentation around your workflows is represented in the real data within your system. It also makes setting up new workflows easier because your team can keep talking the same way no matter the product.
If you or your team rely on INFLCR facial or number recognition, or your content/social team adds helpful keywords within the INFLCR interface, you may want to consider setting up an end of season archival workflow to pull content from INFLCR and including INFLCR data in your export (you will see an option to include metadata when you bulk export a gallery in INFLCR).
INFLCR will not overwrite any of your metadata, but it will append or add to your metadata with any tags detected or added in INFLCR added to the Persons Shown field in IPTC and any keywords or attribution added in INFLCR to their respective fields.
Get in Touch!
As you can see, metadata is the foundation of not just DAM success, but of success managing your content across all your connected tools. If you need help learning more about metadata, digital asset management, or content management, contact Stacks! We are here to help ensure success for your team.