What Is Metadata
and Why It Matters

A deeper look into the data behind the data

Maybe you’ve heard it in passing at the office, breezed over it while troubleshooting with IT, or encountered its incomplete fields when saving a file; metadata can be somewhat of an elusive concept if it’s not already part of your everyday.

As our world shifts more and more into the digital age, you may have been hearing the term metadata being used more frequently, but it really is nothing new. Although metadata has grown and evolved over the decades and has crossed industry lines, metadata has been a key factor in organizing information ever since there was information to organize in one form or another. In this article, we’ll touch on what metadata is and why it can be a game changer for your organization.

What is Metadata?

Simply put, metadata is data about data, but let’s unpack that a bit.

Metadata is now everywhere you look. On a consumer level basis, you’ll most commonly encounter metadata when browsing a website or viewing images and videos. In these cases, you will be consuming raw content; however, the creators have added valuable, unseen information that brings those digital files to life. 

Metadata is all the descriptive information behind images, videos, web pages, design files, or other digital media. It is a data set that gives content and context to raw data.

So what is the difference between content and context? They are equally as important as one another and if attempting to improve your metadata management, skipping these two concepts would prove to be time unwell spent. Without content, your metadata and thus raw data have no backbone; without context, your raw data would be like pulling a book off the shelf and beginning at page ninety-eight.

Consider the following to ensure proper content:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • How
  • Why

Adding the following will allow for proper context:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Categories
  • Tags

Digital Assets

Why it Matters

When beginning to consider adding metadata management into your workflow, the question of, “is it really worth it?”, is sure to arise. Of course, it is always smart to question every detail when considering such an investment. While we may be a little biased, we can whole-heartedly say that the wavering feeling you may experience before pulling the trigger to include metadata into your company’s everyday, will prove futile once its returns are realized.

The Power of Search

Adding proper metadata that provides content and context to your raw data will allow your team to utilize the power of search. Undoubtedly, one of the most common benefits we hear about a company’s experience right away after adding metadata to their resources is that staff no longer has to scroll and scroll to find that perfect raw file for an upcoming project or presentation. When all of your raw data is stored in one, centralized location like a Digital Asset Management (DAM), your staff can easily type in a keyword related to the file they are looking for and locate the perfect file within seconds, saving time and money.

The Power of Analytics

Adding metadata to individual files can save large amounts of time for your various teams, but by including content and context to individual files, we can now look at your entire portfolio of resources and gather invaluable information about how your teams are actually using those files. Metadata gives you the power of tracking and analytics.

Content creation and purchasing can be pricey, so why would you allow those valuable resources to sit unused on a server or be recreated campaign after campaign? By including metadata into your workflow, you’ll be able to see gaps in your resources along with activities like:

  • Download percentages and what staff initiated the download
  • Most viewed file
  • Top downloads
  • Total files you own and the average file size
  • Upload history
  • Download methods and from which office location
  • Most popular tags and how often they are downloaded

Start Today

Companies large and small are beginning to realize the importance of metadata and its crucial role in optimizing digital investments. Raw data alone will continue to serve its intended purpose without metadata, but coupled with the invaluable wealth of information in the background, it can only then become a true, actionable asset.

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