What is metadata? What role does it play in DAM?

20 May


Written by

Sara Jabbari




What is metadata? What role does it play in DAM?
Dark mode
Dark mode
Switch to light mode
Switch to dark mode

Metadata is a set of data that describes and provides information about other data; in the case of DAM, it is descriptive data providing information on an image or rich media content (video, audio, 3D, 360° photo, etc.). The main purpose of metadata is to extend the scope of actions available for digital content by providing a context and a set of related information. This information is used to identify and describe a resource, explain its origin and purpose, and even specify the recipients. In a DAM solution, metadata makes it easier to search and share marketing content, manage collections, preserve visual resources, and centralize rights management. It acts as an ID for digital content.

What are the benefits of metadata?

Metadata helps to map and contextualize content. 

It has many benefits:

  • Facilitating access to content for all employees, with no specific technical knowledge required. It is easier for everyone to find the asset they are looking for in a search engine when its metadata (structure, content, quality and nature of each image) is filled in and indexed.
  • Verifying the quality and freshness of content with ease. Users can assess and qualify content more easily thanks to the presence and relevance of metadata on use, ownership, expiry status and even revision of the assets. It serves as a guarantee of up-to-date content that is always available for use.
  • Saving time for users. Because metadata effectively describes the terms of use and compliance of content with visual guidelines, regulations, brand image and more, users can devote their time to using the content rather than checking its compliance.
  • Allowing protection of sensitive data. Because it contains the information needed to encrypt, track, manage access and even distribute data based on geographic criteria, metadata has a key role to play in the proper management of sensitive content. The fact that it is kept by the company means the information can be consulted at a later date, and offers more precise traceability of the actions carried out for each type of content. The metadata also serves as evidence in the event of a dispute.
  • Optimizing the use of media. Metadata makes it possible to enrich the reach or engagement statistics of visual and audiovisual content using information on the type of product, product range, media title, tag, brand, subsidiary or department, and so on. It allows a more in-depth and extensive analysis of distribution and usage data. 

What are the different types of metadata?

For images (the most common content in DAM), there are three main types of metadata:


Exchangeable image file format

This format provides technical information on image or sound files recorded by digital camera (aperture, shutter speed).


International Press Telecommunications Council - Information Interchange Model

This provides information on the author of an image (contact details, etc.).


Extensible Metadata Platform

This is the most recent metadata standard, it replaces IPTC and allows a wide variety of information to be stored because this XML format is extensible.

Metadata can be grouped into four main categories

Descriptive metadata:

This data is used to describe and identify marketing content, whether in an operating system or on a website. The metadata is used to assign unique identifiers, physical characteristics (type of media, size, general condition) and bibliographic information (title, author, creator, language, keywords).

The Dublin Core, for example, is a simple and generic metadata schema. It was initially based on 15 core properties for resource description, including formal (title, creator, publisher), intellectual (subject, description, language, etc.) and those relating to intellectual property. It has since been enriched with additional elements: relationships (isPartOf, isVersionOf, isFormatOf, etc.), and additional repositories including a list of resource types used to more accurately characterize the syntax (DC: type).

Structural metadata:

This facilitates the navigation and presentation of digital media by providing information on the internal structure of resources. It describes the relationships between components (e.g. file A is the jpeg format of archive file B) in compound objects. It can be defined as the tags that structure content, allowing users to find out the classification and structural level of said content (e.g. photograph B was inserted into manuscript A).

Administrative metadata:

This is the information that facilitates the short and long-term management and processing of content.  It includes technical data on creation and quality control, rights management, access control and user requirements. This rights management can be personalized according to the Group's requirements (limited to a period of time, geographic location, etc), making it possible to find information such as publication date, resolution, color space, file format, owner, copyright date, and more. 

Generated metadata:

Metadata can also be created automatically by the capture device (e.g. mobile phone, digital camera, video camera) or editing software (e.g. Photoshop). For example, a camera can record information such as geographic coordinates or the date the photo was taken.

Machine learning (AI) is a method by which programs learn from experience, using structured data sets. The more structured and numerous the data, the more it learns and the more accurate the results. A DAM solution can therefore generate the tags of a video or photo thanks to its artificial intelligence service.

Machine learning is not a substitute for data analysts or other types of user. But it does increase productivity and enable a better use of the time for the people in charge of managing the company's marketing and communication content.


The proper management of metadata is key to improving your production costs, as well as streamlining creative collaboration and better distributing marketing content.

The establishment of a DAM solution that automatically enriches your marketing content saves time for marketing teams who know they can trust the content presented.

Articles you may find interesting

Get more marketing tips
& news straight to your inbox