Definition: Metadata

What is metadata?

Metadata is descriptive information that provides details about the data of a particular entity, e.g. its characteristics, properties or attributes.

For example, the metadata for a product may include details such as the product name, SKU number and campaign ID, as well as product attributes such as color, specifications and size. The metadata for an image can be the name of the photographer, the location and the date the photo was taken.

What is the purpose of metadata?

Metadata is the backbone of effective data management. It helps companies to understand, organize, search, integrate, manage and preserve data efficiently and accurately.

Here are some common purposes for which metadata is used:

  • Description and identification: With additional information about the attributes of the data, it becomes easier to identify, categorize and distinguish it from other similar data entities.
  • Contextual understanding: Data is easier to understand and interpret when it is tagged with contextual information (such as the data source, creation date, author or version).
  • Search and discovery: By assigning keywords, tags or labels to the data, it becomes easier and faster to search, filter and retrieve the data.
  • Taxonomy: Based on their metadata, products can be assigned to specific categories and subcategories and their relationships to other products can be established.

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