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Definition: Metadata

What is metadata?

The definition of metadata is data that describes other data. It is a handy system that makes data and digital files simpler to work with. Metadata helps clarify information, and makes it easier to find and manage digital files. Metadata is a critical component for search inside of major martech systems like CRM, DAM, CMS, and more. Metadata also helps facilitate integrations between marketing systems.

Metadata creates associations or links between digital files, providing consistency with asset management. Metadata can be created manually or automatically, though the former method is generally more accurate. An example of creating metadata manually would be to tag assets inside of your digital asset management system with keywords to describe the file.

Conversely, photographers can also enter standard metadata into their camera settings so every asset they create automatically has metadata for the name of the photographer, the date created, copyright information, etc.

What are the main types of metadata?

There are three main types of metadata:

  • Descriptive metadata - this provides the basic information about a file such as title, author, or keywords.
  • Structural metadata - as the name suggests, structural metadata is used to show how digital assets are organized, such as pages in an e-book or images in a brochure.
  • Administrative metadata - this metadata includes the file type, usage rights, who the owner is, and other information relating to intellectual property. This is important information for effective Digital Asset Management (DAM). To learn more about metadata for digital asset management, download our handy metadata and taxonomy guide.

Why is metadata important?

Metadata is important as it helps to organize and categorize digital assets and clarifies the information they contain. Marketers have to manage a lot of data, so being able to use meta tags to filter, locate, and manage files saves a lot of time, mitigates error, and streamlines processes.

Metadata provides an accurate audit trail of your digital assets through their entire lifecycle. This includes the processes by which they are created, usage permissions, and much more. Metadata helps you improve CRM management, and ensures you are compliant with your DAM and data sharing responsibilities. It also facilitates effective collaboration, and boosts your automation tactics.

Applying accurate metadata to web pages can also improve your SEO and increase your rankings on Google and other search engines. The keywords and descriptions you add to your metatags help explain the content clearly and quickly, so search engines can index your content accurately. Your content can then be found by the people who need it.