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DAM Knowledge

5 Steps To Improve Your Metadata Model

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

6 min read

team working on a laptop

Do you ever feel like your job would be so much easier if everyone at your organization had access to the exact same information, organized in the exact same way? You’re certainly not alone. Internal silos are a major (and common) pain point for many organizations. Those using a digital asset management (DAM) system, however, are able to make use of their DAM’s specific best practices to help overcome them. With the right DAM taxonomy and metadata, silos are no longer a concern, and overall productivity levels are improved, companywide. In this post, we will discuss:

If you are looking to take control of your DAM's metadata, you've come to the right place.

What is a Metadata Model?

A metadata model is a structured set of metadata that includes all necessary information about your assets. The metadata organizes assets by using categories, custom attributes, and other identifiers. There are three main types of metadata:

  1. Technical: Embedded and technical metadata that tells you how an asset is structured, and how it will work with other programs.
  2. Administrative: The data that is needed to manage and use your assets, like usage rights, approval status, or the working stage it’s in—like WIP, archived, ready for review, etc.
  3. Descriptive: Data that captures the asset’s subjects, or “about-ness,” such as color, asset type, and other descriptors or information.

Examples of MetadataTechnical Administrative Descriptive

File name
File type

Purchase date
Approval status

Asset type
Product year
Product make
Product model

By implementing this metadata model, tailored to fit your business needs, you will be able to better manage your assets and all of the information attached to them.

Benefits of a Universal Metadata Model

A universal metadata model helps encourage a common language spoken among all users. Ensuring that DAM users apply the same language when managing digital assets will help to keep your DAM clean and assets discoverable. The 3 main benefits of using a universal metadata model include:

  1. New possibility for cross-functional asset use to help increase the value of your assets,
  2. Faster and more comprehensive onboarding for new asset collections and user groups, and
  3. Increased opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance metadata.

In addition to these benefits, a universal metadata model will help simplify your team's workflow and provide a more seamless experience for everyone.

5 Steps to Improve Your Metadata Model

Now that we know more about what the metadata model can do, let's discuss how to improve your own metadata. Here are 5 steps to transforming your metadata to help it reach its fullest potential.

1. Gather Experts from Every Group

Talking to your users and identifying subject matter experts from each major user group is an important first step in improving your metadata. With that said, it is also important to ensure that whoever you’ve chosen to chat with has the bandwidth to provide insights on the metadata: make sure you identify someone in every single department and team in order for the DAM taxonomy to equally benefit the entire organization.

2. Review Existing Assets

During this step, you will export the metadata on all your existing assets in order to review and assess (this is the time to identify if there are missed opportunities in the embedded metadata). In doing so, be sure to ask your DAM users to share all workflows including asset management as this is your real chance to understand your assets in more nuanced ways.

During this step you’ll need to answer the following important questions:

  • What are common assets for our organization?
  • What assets are downloaded the most?
  • Which assets are missing metadata?
  • Are there areas or departments with a lack of assets?
  • How are the DAM users interacting with your assets?

By answering these questions, you will be able to better understand how your team's assets are being used and what they're being used for.

3. Understand Use Cases for Your System

In order to fully recognize how your system could benefit from metadata, it’s important to build out the use case by interviewing DAM users and stakeholders. The key questions to ask during this step include:

  • Where are your assets currently stored?
  • How are you using your assets?
  • Who creates your assets?
  • Are your assets created internally or externally?
  • Are there key pieces of information that need to be captured that are missing?

Answering these key questions will allow you to gather valuable information regarding the functionality of your current model and help you to determine where any adjustments need to be made.

4. Adjust Model

Once you’ve gathered valuable information from the users and can better understand the use cases for your assets, you can adjust the model to better serve your team. During this step, keep the category structure as simple as possible. Be sure to use common attributes that work for the entire organization—and not too many of them (less is more in this case). Always add safeguards for your keywords, document all your changes/adjustments, and remember, consistency is key.

5. Continue to Build Out

Great—you’ve improved your metadata and increased the value of your digital assets! But it doesn’t stop there. Now, you need to continue to build out, cleanse your existing metadata and assets, and continue to keep them clean in the future. This ensures your organization continues to use DAM to the best of its ability and ultimately increases the value of your assets.

Tips to Establish Cross-Functional Governance

Governance is a way to keep your metadata model nimble so that it will continue to support your organization at scale. Try these 5 tips in order to establish strong governance:

  1. Identify governance leaders to ensure all major user groups are represented.
  2. Build governance policies to maintain your DAM's functionality.
  3. Establish a governance group to organize responsibilities and permissions.
  4. Drum up enthusiasm to maintain interest.
  5. Share and review a governance plan to verify everyone is on the same page.

Once you have established strong governance, you'll need to set a meeting cadence that works best for your team in order to maintain it. This will ensure that your metadata model can support your organization as it inevitably changes and grows.

Boost Productivity with a DAM

Team silos can seriously hinder productivity and limit opportunities, but enhanced taxonomy with a universal metadata model and strong governance can help to collapse them. The right taxonomy and ongoing governance to keep your metadata model strong will create a unified, company-wide system for accessing the assets in your DAM.

Learn even more about how DAM taxonomy helps break down silos by watching this webinar.

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