New campaign to embed information permanently in digital media

Media release circulated by IPTC, 4As and others
on 13 December 2011

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but permanently attached descriptions are worth a lot more as photos travel through the digital world. A campaign has been launched now to embed descriptive and rights information in digital media and to retain it during the whole life cycle.

The initiative has been launched by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), with the support of trade organisations representing visual arts and photo agencies. It aims to establish the practice of applying descriptions and the copyright status of the content as metadata, and to embed it permanently during the electronic exchange of digital photo, text, audio or video files.

This practice is based on the principles defined by the Embedded Metadata Manifesto on the web site which invites organisations and individuals to support the campaign.

The campaign is designed for producers and users of digital media and the hardware and software vendors who play a key role in enabling interoperability in data exchange. The business benefits for both producers and users include efficient delivery, successful retrieval, and improved rights management.

"Metadata is an important driver for business productivity, so it should always be
retained. Too much data is currently lost," said Michael Steidl, managing director of the IPTC which created the Embedded Metadata Manifesto. "It is time for content creators, distributors and software vendors to work together to bring about conditions where business can make use of metadata to track and preserve media files, copyright and other rights, as this is critical for the creative industries that depend on that for their existence."

"Embedding descriptive information into commercial files, removes manual steps, and duplication of effort, which can save time and money, and forms the foundation for more efficient operations, measurement, and monetization of advertising assets. These are the core reasons why the 4A's and ANA partnered to create Ad-ID, the United States standard for identifying Advertising assets across all media platforms," said Harold Geller, Senior Vice President Cross Country-Industry Workflow for the 4A's.  

The five key principles of the Embedded Metadata Manifesto are:

1.  Metadata is essential to describe, identify and track digital media and should be applied to all media items which are exchanged as files or by other means such as data streams.

2. Media file formats should provide the means to embed metadata in ways that can be read and handled by different software systems.

3. Metadata fields, their semantics (including labels on the user interface) and values, should not be changed across metadata formats.

4. Copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files.

5. Other metadata should only be removed from files by agreement with their copyright holders.

About the IPTC:
The IPTC, based in London, UK, is a consortium of the world's major news agencies, news publishers and news industry vendors. It develops and maintains technical standards for improved news exchange that are used by virtually every major news organisation in the world.
Its standards include the Photo Metadata standards IPTC Core and Extension, the family of G2-Standards (NewsML-G2, EventsML-G2 and SportsML-G2), NITF, rNews, and the IPTC NewsCodes. Visit the web site at or follow @IPTC on Twitter.

About the 4A's:
The 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) is the national trade association of the advertising agency business and provides leadership, advocacy and guidance to the industry. The management-oriented association founded in 1917 helps its members build their businesses, and acts as the industry's spokesperson with government, media, and the public sector. Its membership comprises virtually all of the large, multinational agencies and hundreds of small and mid-sized agencies across the country. More than 1,200 member agency offices served by the 4A's employ 65,000 people, offer a wide range of marketing communications services, and place 80 percent of all national advertising. For more information, visit

About the ANA:
Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA's membership includes 400 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers. For more information, visit, follow @ANAmarketers on Twitter, join us on Facebook (, or visit our YouTube channel (