Metadata - the hidden value of your assets

Digital Asset Management | QBank | Metadata management

We spend enormous amounts of time and money on creating content, but unfortunately the job is only half-done if you don't tag your files properly. Adding metadata to your files is what transforms them into valuable assets! 

Embedded metadata

Proper metadata management is the one thing that differs a successful DAM system from just a big pile of… files. Companies and organisations spend enormous amounts of money creating content - metadata enables its findability, minimises the risk of assets being used in the wrong places, enables workflows and creates new opportunities. Adding and maintaining metadata costs money, but not doing so can cost even more.

Embedded metadata is part of the actual digital file, and tags along during its life-cycle. The data can be used by your DAM system, or any other system that supports it.

Where can I find it?

Programs such as Adobe Photoshop, llustrator, InDesign etc all support embedding metadata. Embedded metadata is not only for images - information can also be embedded in videos, word processing, PDF-files and presentations. In Photoshop, just open File Info, and in any Office document, you find it under File Properties.


Managing metadata is certainly not a new thing. Already back in the 70's the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), consisting of the world’s leading news organisations - started laying out standards to facilitate the exchange of news data of all common media types (articles, photos and even sports data). Still today, the leading standard on photo metadata is based on the same work. What IPTC came up with was not only the structures, but a way to manage both the actual file and its’ metadata in one place.


A few years later, with the advent of digital photography, an initiative was formed by an organisation of all the major japanese camera makers to store all the technical data produced by the cameras within the actual images. EXIF - the Exchangeable image file format stores date and time information, camera settings (camera make, aperture/shutter speed, if a flash was used and a whole slew of other information). EXIF also made it possible and easy for photographers to add their contact information, copyright information and even descriptive data and keywords. Today, with GPS becoming a standard feature in all smartphones and digital cameras, the automatic capturing of geolocation data brings another interesting dimension to the mix.

Adobe XMP

In 2001, Adobe introduced the third important standard - XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform). XMP simplified adding metadata to many popular file formats, including PDFs and digital video. Microsoft quickly adopted the standard to also encompass any Microsoft document type (PPTs, Word documents etc).

As you can see, during the lifespan of any asset, valuable metadata is created and captured both by machines and by humans. This metadata consist of 3 main categories:

  • Technical properties, data recorded automatically such as pixel sizes, color spaces, camera and software settings.
  • Descriptive metadata - headline, caption/description, keywords etc.
  • Rights metadata - copyright information, usage rights.

QBank and embedded metadata

QBank supports both reading and writing embedded metadata, which is one of the crucial requirements of a DAM system. This means that any existing information can be imported into the media properties, and any metadata created or modified while using QBank can be written back to the file.

You would be surprised to see that many of your assets already contain metadata that could prove useful in your DAM system. Technically even descriptive metadata can easily be created by the user already when creating the asset, be it a photo, illustration, PDF/Word/Powerpoint or a video. It can therefore make good sense to implement guidelines and even requirements on how to do the most basic tagging of assets, already before they enter the DAM. Delegating metadata capture as a natural part of the delivery of assets from:

  • external agencies
  • vendors
  • photographers
  • internal contributors within your organisation

Done right, the result would be more detailed metadata and less manual post-tagging. It only takes a moment to provide some basic metadata when creating the asset, but can be quite time-consuming to do tag hundreds of assets at a time.

Some ideas to consider

  • If you handle localized content, have your (translation) agency add the country/language-codes as metadata.
  • For product and packaging shots, have the photographer add the correct Product name/variant/color or SKUs as they are being photographed.
  • For staff photos, get full names, employee IDs and contact information.

For more information and resources, check out the Embedded Metadata Manifesto at


Subscribe now

Don't miss the latest from the QBank Blog.

Start your journey today

Book a demo with our sales team