Digital asset management (DAM) consolidates an organization’s digital content into a single location, making it easier to access, manage and distribute with internal teams, partners, and customers.
DAM is business-critical for any individual or organization that actively produces digital content and media assets on a regular basis. Exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic, the demand for content has only increased. But it’s a catch-22. As you start to produce more content, the harder it will become to manage, find, and fully use it.
Think about it. As you create a healthy pipeline of content, you will have to figure out how to:
Search for content quickly and find it as soon as you need it
Let’s say you produced content last year that you want reuse for an upcoming project. If you do not have a centralized way of tracking content production, it will take a lot of time to find and recover those media assets. And it can become challenging when people leave the company.
Have a clear picture of what you’ve already produced
Many organizations don’t even have a complete inventory of their content. There may be pieces of media sitting on a drive or on in analog formats somewhere, lying in disuse rather than continuing to generate value.
Figure out how to make this content accessible to employees, partners, and potential customers
For internal teams, the challenge is obvious. No matter if you are in sales or in marketing, you need the latest and the greatest content available to help drive the business.
For partners, they may want to use content for sponsorships or other joint initiatives. And for customers, if you are the rights owner, you can generate revenue off your content in a variety of ways from social media ads to direct licensing deals with interested parties.
Most people use multiple tools, applications, and solutions to manage all their rich media. But this creates a lot of friction, slowing down the entire content distribution pipeline in an era where being agile and reacting quickly affects results.
DAM can alleviate that friction, but before you can fully put it into practice, you should have a clear understanding of the associated terms, the business use cases, the benefits, and how to choose a DAM.
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What do I need to know about DAM?
Digital asset management has a lot of terms that overlap and have led to much confusion. We want to demystify these terms so that you understand what the differences are and will know what they mean if you come across them.
Digital Asset Management System is a broad set of software solutions that help people store, manage, and share their content. They come in a variety of forms, from on-premise solutions to fully in the cloud, or some hybrid of the two.
What can be confusing is that any system that someone is using to store their assets could be construed as their “DAM” system. So it is often used interchangeable with specific solutions that are positioned as DAM systems or with any collection of tools, applications or software solutions that operate together as one’s digital asset management system.
There are a few other terms that we put in the same camp like this one. DAM Solution (or DAM Software) is a commonly used term that encompasses a software or application tool, or set of applications and tools, that helps organizations and individuals effectively manage their digital content.
Another is DAM Platform, which is a singular solution that comes with a diverse set of tools, features, and capabilities to streamline the production, management, and distribution of content. This term stands apart from the others in that it’s more about a single solution that has extensive capabilities to handle all aspects of digital asset management whereas the others may involve a collection of applications and tools.
Is digital asset management the same as content management?
Content Management is the process and systems used to manage a variety of types of content created by individuals, companies, or government entities. While digital asset management involves content management, this term is often associated with content marketing.
Content management when assessed from a marketing standpoint could be placed under the wider umbrella of DAM, but it’s not exclusive. It’s more often a marketing term that involves the management of marketing content including blogs, white papers, and other pieces of collateral.
The main reason why content management ends up becoming associated with DAM is that they both deal with two overlapping terms—media asset and digital content.
A Media Asset is a piece of content that typically comes in five key formats—images, audio, video, documents, or HTML. This term usually refers to the specific, individual piece of collateral that has been created.
In contrast to Digital Content, which is a broader sweeping term for any created asset that can be consumed digitally via a variety of platforms including wearables, smartphones and devices, tablets, computers, OTT, television, and video game platforms. Basically, it is any type of content that can be served digitally to consumers. You will see these terms used interchangeable, together, or exclusively with digital asset management.
Now that you are familiar with these terms and understand what they are referring to, we can dive deeper into the use cases of DAM so that you can gain a better understanding of its application in the real world.
What are the uses for DAM?
With a basic understanding of DAM and all the terms associated with the topic, we can now dive into real-world use cases. Here we will learn about what capabilities digital asset management offers to companies.
Digital Asset Management Speeds Up Content Discovery
Think about how much content companies produce in a year. Then, extrapolate that over the entire lifespan of that company and its content production efforts. What you got are thousands of content assets that are often stored in disparate locations.
With DAM, companies can more easily search, recover, and discover content that they want to use. Whether it be to repurpose old content or make it easier to find content as soon as it is produced.
Discoverability often involves tagging this content, which is typically a manual, time-consuming process. And if you don’t have established standards, content can be tagged or saved differently, making it even harder to find. Thankfully, index automation with artificial intelligence streamlines this process, which we will discuss in greater detail in a later chapter.
DAM Protects Your Content
Digitizing any content that you may have in analog formats a well as consolidating all your current digital content ensures it’s preserved and protected. For analog media, most of it will eventually deteriorate or can be damaged by fires or other natural disasters if stored in warehouses. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
As for digital content assets, just because they are digital doesn’t mean they are completely safe. Servers can crash, hard drives can become corrupted, or a virus can force you to lose content. But moving all this media into the cloud, using Azure, AWS or IBM Cloud, allows for you to secure it with the latest technology, have it backed up, and ensure that it is not at risk of becoming lost.
Digital Asset Management Improves Team Collaboration
With many companies forced to make their employees work remotely due to the pandemic, this created serious collaboration challenges. How do employees access content on company servers securely? And what about teams that are global and aren’t located in the same time zones? How do they work together?
One of the great things about a DAM solution is that you have control over access. This means you can give the authorized people within the organization access to content. But it goes beyond that.
Many companies create content together with partners and need a way to give those teams access as well. And the access that you need to provide typically needs to be limited to a certain set of content and not your entire archive. DAM can provide that solution so that content collaboration amongst different groups of people is smooth no matter where people are working.
DAM Accelerates Distribution
One of the key aspects of digital asset management is being able to integrate with other applications and tools that are used for content distribution. Some solutions have pre-built integrations that can be leveraged out of the box to make it truly turnkey. But others may require a bit of work to implement.
This is far easier than producing the content in one application, applying the final touches in another, uploading it to another platform, then finally pushing it out or making it available to other teams. Part of the collaboration piece we already discussed, distribution becomes much more streamlined with the right DAM solution.
Digital Asset Management Helps Keep You In Compliance
If you work with a lot of content that has third-party logos or branding in it, you need to make sure that this content is tagged accordingly so that you don’t accidentally use it without going through the proper approvals.
For example, media companies with movies or television shows often have product placements within them. It’s imperative that they know exactly where these moments are in their assets so they can avoid any sort of legal setbacks and must ultimately pull content, further delaying time to market and costing more revenue.
With an AI-powered DAM, you can leverage cognitive engines like face detection, logo detection, and object detection to ensure that you know exactly what is in a media file. We go into more detail in later chapters.
What are the benefits of digital asset management?
One of the top benefits, when you use digital asset management, is that you can give your content a branded front that can be used by partners or even used by customers who want to license the use of your content. No matter how big your organization is, having a DAM will act as that consolidated source of all things media and digital content for your company.
Here are 9 main benefits of digital asset management:
- Quickly find content in your archive when you need it
- Provide controlled access to different individuals and groups
- Have an accurate inventory of all your media assets
- Streamline sharing and distribution
- Know exactly what content requires third-party review and approval to use
- Preserve and secure your content from becoming lost or destroyed
- Maintain brand consistency across departments and groups
- Enable revenue-generating opportunities with your content
- Enable your teams with the latest and greatest content
How do I choose the best DAM solution?
Each situation and what it requires will affect how you choose the best digital asset management solution. But across the board, there are usually five things that you should look for when determining what’s the best solution for you to use.
- Vendor Trust
You’ll want to gauge if you can trust the vendor you are looking at. If they have been around for a while and are successful, you can feel more comfortable knowing that they won’t suddenly go out of business. The last thing you want is to end up with an unsupported solution, forcing you to make a disruptive and costly migration to a new solution.
This leads us to the second top consideration when looking for a digital asset management solution. What sort of capabilities and features does it come with out of the box? Do you need all those capabilities? And if not, how does that affect price? What about integrations? All of these are important questions to ask so you can identify any potential gaps that you may actually require.
What sort of access controls does it offer? Most can provide access to individuals and groups, but one area that some DAM solutions may lack is the eCommerce capability. If you are the rights holder to the content, you should determine if you can easily switch on a marketplace for your content that customers can navigate to license content.
What sort of security features come with it to guarantee that your content is protected? This is important to defend against hackers stealing content and that everything is backed up in the event of a server malfunction.
This is tied hand-in-hand with security. How can you deploy the solution? Is it on-premise, hybrid, or can you completely deploy it in the cloud? Most are cloud-based solutions these days, but there may be a unique case where you need deployment flexibility based on other applications or tools you might be using.
Explore Other Chapters
What makes it different from digital asset management?
For people new to asset management, we explore the differences between digital asset management (DAM) and media asset management (MAM).
How is it different from DAM and MAM and why it’s important?
Exploring what makes brand asset management different from digital or media asset management.
What it is and what it entails versus other asset management solutions and methodologies.
Diving into how video asset management is different from other content management systems and what unique features make it ideal for video media.
What it is, how it’s usually done, and best practices for doing it effectively.
For those interested in learning about metadata tagging, what it is, the different methods to carry it out, and how modern technology helps with it.
What it is and how it works.
Revealing how artificial intelligence is used to auto-tag content with rich metadata to improve asset management.