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PHOTO: michael schaffler

If someone asks me what my favorite thing about librarianship is, the thing I love the absolute most — well, my answer is a little nerdy, a little sentimental, but very data-driven. It's the DAM metadata.

And it's not without good reason. Metadata powers all of the digital tooling and systems I use for work, but also for my personal life. It enables people to find what they are looking for online or within their digital asset management (DAM) platform without asking 10 different people where a file is or if they have it on their desktop or in some folder on a cloud storage platform.

Metadata, A Love Note to the Future

Metadata is a love note to the future, but it’s also a love note to anyone who appreciates and values their time. Which, I’m pretty sure, is everyone.

However, not everybody loves entering metadata or describing digital assets that they are uploading to a DAM platform. It’s an extra step. It’s work some people don’t want to do.

It’s the reason there are always dishes in the sink at work. Some people just don’t feel obligated to take care of their own mess. But it’s tough to think of a DAM program at a company in this simple manner. Think of it this way: imagine if your local library left book organization up to the library patrons. What are the chances you would ever go to that library again?

Sometimes when organizations get very big and the primary work of the organization is very important, it becomes necessary to hire a cook, a kitchen cleaner or someone to attend to the office, or perhaps, just perhaps, someone to tag your digital assets and provide upkeep to your DAM program. Because a good DAM requires DAM good metadata. 

Good metadata is accurate. It’s robust. It’s not ambiguous. And for high use and adoption, for DAM return on investment (ROI), it’s filled out as completely as possible.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Related Article: Closing the DAM Expectation Gap

Mature DAM Program = Mature Metadata Strategy + Dedicated Content Stewards

You absolutely must have good metadata to have a mature DAM program at your company (and a dedicated someone or multiple dedicated someones to fill it out accurately and fully).

Aside from the most obvious reasons why metadata is my favorite, the best part is what you can do with it. Here are a few fun feels about digital assets tagged with good metadata:

1. It feels ... good to not get sued

Metadata provides provenance and ownership information for where an asset came from. Usage and rights management information can help answer questions about where the asset came from, who produced it, if it can be used, for how long it can be used and on what channels and in what capacity.

2. It feels ... good to manage the content chaos

Metadata can provide information for consumer packaged goods, retail and fashion companies about what products or suite of products the assets pertains to. For people who live managing the content traffic on ecommerce websites, within their DAM and within production studios, metadata like SKU, product and item numbers are a way of life. Work just wouldn’t get done without that metadata because then product sales wouldn’t happen.

3. It feels ... good to reuse old content instead of spending more money on new content

Metadata can help workers discover content they already produced that has a similar topic to a new campaign they want to produce. For marketers, being able to lift content from a campaign three years ago, spruce it up and pop it into a new campaign not only means saved money on NOT creating new content, but saved time from not having to create a piece from scratch. 

4. It feels ... good to find EXACTLY what you need and nothing you don’t need

Metadata helps global companies localize their content to specific markets all over the world. It helps people quickly determine what market or language an asset is in.  Do you manage the French market? Good news then. Filtering on a language tag in a global DAM platform provides you every asset your company has ever made that’s been translated and localized for the French market.  

5. It feels ... good to go down the rabbit hole of serendipity

Metadata is not just there to find the content you know your company has. It’s there to help creatives discover inspirational content that can be used for mood boards and campaign planning as well. Ever gone down a weird rabbit hole of content in YouTube? Metadata in DAM allows you to do the same. Hello, creative inspiration and serendipitous discovery!

Related Article: DAM Expands Its Reach in the Enterprise

Give Your DAM Some Love

Good feels aside, none of this is possible without the right balance of people, process governance and technology. Next time you’re uploading an asset to your DAM, remember that metadata is indeed a love note to the future. So write the DAM love letter or be kind enough to hire someone who is good at writing love letters.

Otherwise, your DAM platform will become a source of unrequited love, no matter how much you spent on it or tried to make it work. It just won’t love you back until you give it some DAM love.