Metadata fields are really useful if you are a large organization that needs to map your transaction data to very specific internal references. This is most useful for accounting systems. If you are an organization with lots of departments, locations, staff, and event types, and need to track all that internally but don't know how to read on because this feature is for you. If that is not you, you might want to slowly back away.
To understand the usefulness of Metadata fields, let's imagine you are a large organization that puts on different kinds of events around the country. You might have different types of events, different kinds of venues, and different ways you need to account for your revenue. Internally, you might have an internal reference code or general ledger for each city, each location, and event type. Metadata helps you track all this.
In our example, let's imagine your internal reporting keeps track of workshops with an internal reporting reference of "500-100", but conferences have an internal reference of "300-500". Perhaps your account for event revenue internally with an internal reference called "Event_income" which helps you account for it separately from other organization income. Last, let's say you currently track the west coast as a region with a reference of "W.coast", but east coast events you track with a reference of "E.coast".
Those are just made-up examples, but the point is that you need to map a certain transaction to multiple specific codes internally.
Okay, so now let's say you are planning a conference in Los Angeles and your internal team wants to know how to account for the financial revenue according to these three types.
Your challenge is to get the event type id (300-500), the income category (Event_income), and the region (W.coast) all in your financial exports. Hello, Metadata fields! That is what this option does.
Each metadata field has a key (think label) and then a value. You can enter a metadata field for each location, type, and also revenue type. Here is how this would look given our examples above.
The Metadata field is located under Basic Setup in your page builder.
With these settings in place, now your transaction data will carry these nerdy settings down to the transaction exports. Notice inside your transaction export, you will now see Metadata. Choose this to add it to your exports.
All your transactions associated with that page will now have your specified metadata fields exported with each transaction. Here is how it looks in the actual export file according to our above example.
You can see that my 3 custom tracking values are now present in my financial exports.
Again, only really large organizations generally need this. It can be super helpful for people who are tracking their revenue in multiple simultaneous ways.
Metadata is designed to track transaction data. If you wish to track data regarding the order, registrant or ticket, you can do so by adding an invisible text field with default values set. Here is a tutorial of how people use pre-fill URL's to populate invisible fields.