State of Brand Management Tools 2024

How to Apply Metadata in DAM to Optimise Your Content Supply Chain

Explore the significance of metadata in a digital asset management (DAM) system and its role in optimising your content supply chain. There are two essential facts to emphasises: the indispensability of a DAM system for delivering content projects at scale, and the critical importance of metadata in leveraging DAM to its fullest potential.

Don’t want to read a bunch of text? Watch the video below instead. 

There are two major facts about the content supply chain process that you really need to know about:

The first one is that it’s practically impossible to deliver content projects at scale without a digital asset management (DAM) system in place. In fact, it’s only when you have a means to store and organise digital assets, proof and sign off new projects, or collaborate with all stakeholders, projects get done on time and with no errors. 

The other one is that it’s equally challenging to utilise DAM to its fullest potential without metadata. In fact, metadata is, by far, one of the most critical, and most often overlooked aspects of digital asset management.  

The good news is that in this guide, we’ll help you overcome it. Below, you’ll find a complete guide to using metadata in a digital asset management system.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

Table of Contents

What are metadata fields in a DAM platform?

Let’s start with the term – metadata

Its origins are in the Greek word, meta, meaning “beyond” or “after.” In the English language, the term can also be used to describe more comprehensive information. Putting the two together, we can say that metadata is simply information that describes data, or “data about data.”

In marketing, we often use metadata to denote or describe various characteristics of digital assets. In photography, for example, we use metadata to provide information about camera settings being used in a particular project, location, type of an image, and so on. And once again, in this context, metadata is used to help organise, and then, locate and retrieve relevant photos faster.

Metadata describes different characteristics of data, and those characteristics help organise the data better for everyone using it.

That’s also how metadata is being used in a digital asset management (DAM) system. 

The core digital asset management (DAM) capability is to allow for better organisation, storage, and retrieval of digital assets. In DAM, metadata contains all information whoever added a particular asset to the platform decided to specify about it. 

For example, a metadata for a digital image might include information about:

  • The asset’s name
  • Asset type
  • Availability of the asset and any copyright information
  • Status
  • Language
  • Any tags associated with the file
  • Licence information
An example of a digital asset with several metadata fields provided to describe it.

Naturally, the above is only a small selection of a DAM metadata. In fact, the opportunities to provide metadata for digital assets are practically limitless. 

You can use metadata to:

  • Provide structural information about the data, and define the elements to include in the metadata itself. 
  • Specify administrative metadata which is key information about the data, like the author, when the data was created, or an asset type. 
  • And you can use descriptive metadata to provide further identification of the data and its value. 

But what’s important is that all this information can make assets easy to locate and use, without having teams waste countless hours per week looking for them. Here are other benefits of specifying metadata for digital assets.

Why you absolutely must specify metadata for your digital assets

We’ve already covered what metadata is, and what its core purpose is – to allow for better asset or data management. 

However, providing quick access to assets isn’t the only benefit that metadata delivers to your marketing workflow.

Other benefits of using metadata in DAM include:

  • Streamlining asset organisation
  • Helping teams verify asset freshness with ease
  • Saving time on searching for assets
  • Allowing better protection of sensitive information and files
  • Supporting digital archiving, and more. 

In fact, to reiterate what we’ve said earlier in this guide, it’s practically impossible to utilise DAM to its fullest and produce content assets at scale without turning to metadata. 

But there is still more to metadata, and it relates to how you need to think about the metadata information that you want to specify in your DAM platform. 

Categories and segments in metadata

There are two ways to define metadata, by its category, and its segment. 

Categories describe what different DAM metadata fields describe, and the three core categories of metadata are: 

  • Structural – Defines the elements you want to include in the metadata, and how those different components of the data are organised together.
  • Administrative – Key information about the data ownership, access rights, and other administrative details.
  • Descriptive – Information about the data content and its context.


Segments, on the other hand, provide information about specific types of metadata that are relevant to a particular context of the data. In this case, we typically divide metadata into three segments:

  • Content metadata describes the content of the file. Examples of content metadata include keywords, tags, industries, etc. 
  • Instructional metadata provide information about the approved ways to use the asset.
  • Historical metadata describes what’s been happening with the asset, from the creation data or location to any revisions and changes that have been applied to it.


Combined, categories and segments provide a complete description of an asset, giving any stakeholders all the information they need to select the correct file, and use it accordingly to its specific purpose. 

Let’s look at some examples of those metadata fields.

The most commonly used fields and attributes in DAM metadata

A quick note before we move any further – the list you’ll see below contains the most common metadata attributes. It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor a complete list of information that you could define with metadata. Our goal for including it is to show you examples of various metadata fields that you could specify in your DAM platform, and how having them will affect your content supply chain process. 

So, without any further ado, here are the most common metadata fields and attributes:

  • Asset name
  • Description 
  • Keywords/Tags
  • Asset type
  • Owner
  • Uploaded date
  • Version status
  • Copyright holder 
  • Approval status
  • Content language
Add metadata to assets in bulk to save time.

How does it all work together in a DAM platform?

To conclude this guide, let us show you how to use metadata in CELUM to streamline the content supply chain process.

In general, metadata comes into play in two scenarios:

The first one is asset upload. This is when you take an asset or a whole collection of assets like photos, videos, etc. and bring them to be stored in your DAM. As part of the process, you identify where these assets should be stored – for example, a specific collection or a folder. 

Here’s an example of a folder structure in CELUM.

Folder structure in CELUM.

But also, you specify various metadata about each asset. For example: 

  • Asset type 
  • Content type 
  • Keywords
  • Description, and much more.
Metadata applied to product content.

The other scenario is when you’re searching for assets. CELUM makes it incredibly easy to use metadata to quickly locate any files you need. 

The easiest way to do so is to click on any metadata in an asset to access other files categorised in the same way. For example, let’s say that you already have an asset with type “marketing” open. You can click on that tag and the system will show you all files with the same type. 

The same method would work for other tags, including the ones generated by CELUM’s AI. 

This is because, as we’ve discussed earlier, metadata helps provide additional context to each asset and helps categorise those assets by these various contexts. 

Another method is to use search filters, and sort your assets by specific metadata. This method works similarly to the one above. However, in this case, you’re not starting with an asset but a blank search such as a keyword, and use metadata to narrow down your search results. 

Would you like to see how CELUM helps you streamline the content supply chain? Book a demo with us and we’ll be delighted to walk you through the platform.

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