Recently I had the chance to watch my younger cousin shop for shoes on a popular online shopping site. She told me that she had seen a pair of shoes in the store and wanted to purchase them online. She sat down at her computer, visited the online store, and entered the brand of the shoe into the search bar. The results of the search presented numerous products, so she used the filters available on the left side of the page to focus her search by color, size, shape, heel height, and design. After several searches, it was clear she wasn’t going to find the shoe she was looking for. She started to wonder, was this shoe only available in the store or was it available online but she couldn’t find it?
Her experience was similar to the slightly painful experience we encounter when navigating the Web and finding a dead link. The dreaded 404 error:
As marketers we can have similar 404 experiences when searching for digital assets in our own organizations. We enter a search term, filter down, and hope for the best results, but feel a slight bit of pain when we can’t find a digital asset we know should exist in our digital asset management (DAM) solution. The frustration sinks in and we wonder: Should I keep looking? Does this asset really exist in the DAM? Was I imagining a digital asset that doesn’t exist?
As we grow our pool of images, videos, and other creative content, finding the perfect asset for our marketing campaigns, product launches, or other customer-facing experiences can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. An effective asset management strategy should include a governed use of metadata, taxonomy, and classification (tags/keywords) to ensure assets are identified and found quickly. I’ll quickly explain a few basics that can make your assets a little easier to find within your organization.
Getting the DAM lingo right
We face many challenges today in our diverse work environments. Organizations span multiple buildings, states, countries, and continents and include different cultures and ways of speaking. Even in the United States there are multiple words to describe a soft drink. At some point, your organization will have to choose the language and terms it will abide by. Understand the lingo of your organization. Should everyone refer to a soft drink as cola, soda, pop, etc.? Will they always use English? Making the wrong choice can be the difference between finding and not finding an asset.
What exactly is metadata?
The best way to describe metadata is data about data. The descriptive information contained in metadata is invaluable to search. Just as Google uses the text on a page to power search, metadata is the fuel in the search for digital assets. Metadata, often contained within a media file, could be as simple as the title of the asset or as technical as the camera or application that created the original asset. Without metadata, search can be difficult and can render your DAM a repository that is no easier to browse than folders on shared servers. Does this sound familiar?
With hundreds of fields, schemas, and processes to create and manage metadata, many organizations fear that optimal search can be expensive and time consuming to manage. In a future post, we will take a closer look at why it is important to adopt standards, such as XMP, and how these standards can help you define a model that can be used in your organization and across applications.
Establishing a common language
A taxonomy is an approved hierarchy of keywords that are used to classify digital assets. When a hierarchal structure is defined, a user can assign these keywords to classify digital assets to ensure findabilty. Take, for example, my cousin’s shoe shopping experience. A very simple taxonomy for this type of asset might have included:
- Footwear > Athletic
- Footwear > Boots
- Footwear > Dress > Work
- Footwear > Dress > Formal
- Footwear > Flats
- Footwear > Slippers
- Season> Spring
- Season> Fall
- Season> Winter
Using this example, the appropriate digital assets could be assigned to categories such as “summer” and/or “boots.” A search for either term would return results that could then be filtered down with search facets as the user supplies more information. By using the established hierarchical structure, users can easily navigate and search using the terms to clearly classify the digital asset.
Establishing a strong taxonomy and metadata strategy within your organization can yield significant improvements in search, discoverability, and usability. What search strategies does your organization employ to ensure that users don’t say “Why can’t I find that DAM asset”?