An introduction to metadata

When reading about MarTech platforms and talking about the technical side the word ‘Metadata’ often pops up. But for most people new to brand management or IT, it might as well be a martian term. However, it’s a vital part of setting up any digital documentation structure such as a digital asset management platform, brand platform, or product information management system.

What is metadata?

Metadata can be described as data that describes other data. It summarizes basic information about other data to make finding, using, and working with particular instances of data easier. It can be created manually to be more personalized to a specific purpose, or automatically, containing more basic information.

In short, metadata is the description of other data, used to simplify cataloging and finding this data in larger datasets or portfolios of assets. The main benefits are a better organization of your assets and easier searchability of your assets.  

Metadata is usually used for documents, images, videos and gifs. There are also different types of metadata.

The types of metadata

Default metadata

Most DAM systems will have several metadata items automatically integrated when an asset gets uploaded to its database. The extent of these default assignments depends on how comprehensive your imported file is, that the DAM uses to do the auto-assignments.

Below you can see some metadata fields that are auto-assigned to any asset:

  • File name
  • File title
  • Uploaded by
  • Updated by
  • Keywords (tags)
  • Category
  • Caption
  • Description
  • Creator
  • Publisher
  • Copyright

Please note that the following items are manually added:

  • Identifier key/SKU (especially for Kadanza)
  • Publish date
  • Expiration date
  • Related Assets
  • Transparent
  • Vector

If the data of any of these fields isn’t available to be inserted automatically, you can of course still add it manually.

Custom metadata

If there is valuable metadata missing needed for your asset structure, there’s always an option of creating custom metadata attributes, where you can store your specific data.

You can add and position them in between the default data. You can reorganize the entire order, add titles, dividers, … and come up with a scheme that fits your specific (business) needs. Just remember that the custom metadata needs to be filled in manually so it’s only valuable if you actually follow through with the setup.

The more automation the merrier!


There is a standard of information that is usually embedded in a digital photo that was developed by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC). Photoshop introduced the ‘File Info’ panel for photographers to add IPTC data easily. However, the pictures need to be scanned first to add the data.

Later, the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) was introduced by Adobe with Photoshop 7. The metadata standardization and customization feature is based on XML and was created to help exchange standardized and custom metadata for digital documents and data sets. You can use it to describe any assets like videos and images.

The metadata is kept within the image file itself, which is known as embedded XMP. As a result, metadata is always stored alongside the image file and does not need to be kept separate.

Tons of images have IPTC and XMP data attached to the source file which is also called embedded IPTC and XMP. That’s great news since all of this data* often gets automatically added to the metadata of the image you upload onto your brand portal, reducing the workload of having to do so yourself.

*Only the most important attributes are mapped to metadata attributes in Kadanza.


Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) refers to the fundamental metadata that your camera creates and stores each time you take a picture. The technical data of an image such as the camera used, shutter time, focal point, resolution of the image, date and time of when the picture was taken, etc.

This data is directly added to your images by digital cameras, and thus directly searchable in your asset portfolio, even less work for you! How wonderful is that?

The benefits of metadata

We’ve been talking a lot about how great metadata is, but haven’t exactly laid out the real benefits. So here’s a small list of all the great things about using a proper metadata scheme we put together from our own experience over the years:

  • Easily finding assets in your database
  • Having a clear structure in imagery and other uploaded assets (by setting up categories)
  • Having control over the topics of uploaded images
  • Supporting digital archiving of active and inactive assets
  • Streamline managing your assets across multiple admins and departments
  • Inform the optimization of your web content
  • Increase the effectiveness of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Automating workflows through a set of rules for quicker project delivery
  • Connection with automated designs in smart templates
  • Greater productivity & reduced costs

Find out how it is managed and implemented at Kadanza!

Read now!


What is metadata and how does it work?

Metadata: The differences between XMP and IPTC

Understanding Metadata | EXIF for Landscape Photography |...

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