drive through food resting on the side of a blue car
PHOTO: Terry Jaskiw

Digital asset management (DAM) offers organizations a single source of truth for all their customer experience assets: from images, photos and videos, to 3-D, audio and editorial content. But DAM is more than just a parking lot where those assets sit — it’s an interactive solution that enables organizations to create a true hub for customer experience content.

The key to that difference is its use of metadata and taxonomy. But what exactly are these functionalities? And why are they essential to keeping an organization’s DAM in order? I like to think of taxonomy and metadata like a restaurant menu, where the taxonomy acts as the menu of categories and the metadata is the dish descriptions. Let’s find out why.

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Taxonomy: The Menu Categories for Your Content

Most restaurants break down their menus by food categories, such as appetizers, salads, specials, entrees and desserts. These categories are the taxonomy for a restaurant and help users more easily find the food they are looking for and understand where it fits in their meal. For example, categorizing an item as an appetizer helps restaurant guests understand it is probably a smaller portion, so wouldn’t be enough to serve as a main course.

Similarly for assets in a DAM solution, taxonomy is used to create categories that align each piece of content to various groups to help users understand it better. For example, organizations could assign content to categories like brand, campaign, product, department or content type for people to make better use of assets in the future.

Having a hierarchical structure for content also helps DAM administrators and others better understand how and when each piece of content can or should be used, making it easier to organize, browse and find desired assets.

Every DAM solution has taxonomy to help with these issues, but how can users distinguish what is best-in-class compared to what is standard fare? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Support for multiple taxonomies, including local, region or language specific taxonomies and business unit specific taxonomies.
  • The ability for a single piece of content to live in multiple taxonomies, for example, if it would apply to multiple lines of business.
  • On-the-fly taxonomies, so changes can be made to the taxonomy without deploying the entire taxonomy, such as pulling out a regional taxonomy if the business is no longer marketing in that region.
  • Professional services or partners with extensive experience in helping organizations create and deploy usable taxonomy structures.

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Metadata: The Ingredients for Each Asset

Continuing with the restaurant example, metadata is the description of each dish listed on the menu. This could be simple descriptions, like what’s included in a salad or dish, or what side items come with the steak, or how the fish was prepared, if it's farmed or wild, or if it's served with a sauce.

In short, metadata helps patrons more easily browse, search and find what they’d like to eat from the entire menu and understand exactly what they are getting before they order. In a DAM, it helps users more easily browse, search and find the exact content they need.

For instance, imagine you’re looking to reuse a video that ran on social media about a new product line, but can’t remember exactly where it lives. Users can use a DAM search, since metadata provides more accurate results are reliant on metadata, to find the video and read the metadata tags to understand exactly what is in the video before downloading it. A few of the most commonly used metadata types include:

  • Keyword metadata: Words or phrases associated with a piece of content that are commonly searched terms.
  • Descriptive metadata: A longer, text description of the asset once users click on the asset for details.
  • Business metadata: Terms specific to a business, like if the asset is one of their products or part of a campaign.

While every DAM has metadata capabilities, a few things separate best-in-class DAM solutions in metadata from the average DAM, such as:

  • Localized metadata for different regions, languages or channels.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) to auto-tag assets with image recognition, speech-to-text transcription and optical character recognition.
  • Metadata templates, to apply the same metadata to multiple assets with just a couple of clicks.

The mentioned capabilities ensure the content users invested so much time in isn’t going to waste and can be easily found and reused across the business. And that ability to keep assets up to date, organized and enriched ensures it will ultimately lead to richer on-brand customer experiences.