If your media operation has bought into the concept of leading-edge digital asset management (DAM) tools, congratulations! Armed with a cloud-native and AI-driven DAM, you’re poised to reap some fantastic benefits, which could include improved operational efficiencies, more effective management and control of your valuable content, optimized advertising and sponsorship opportunities, and the ability to develop lucrative new revenue streams. But to get there, you have a few things to think about – and some questions to ask.
My many years at Wazee Digital (now a Veritone company), has given me a unique perspective in understanding how customers implement effective DAM solutions. Whether we’re onboarding a brand-new customer or taking an existing customer to the next generation of Veritone Digital Media Hub, we encounter the same roadblocks. These pitfalls, and how to stay out of them, should be top-of-mind for any company preparing to transition their archives into a purpose-built centralized DAM system.
Pitfall No. 1 – a lack of consistent, consumable, and structured metadata
Many times with a new customer, we’ll ask questions like, “What is your metadata structure? Where does your metadata live? And can people actually consume it?” In most large enterprises, different internal user groups have different requirements and use cases around metadata, and there’s often no clear or consistent metadata scheme that can serve and empower all users.
When your metadata is structured and consistent, the discoverability of your content increases exponentially. You can pull the exact content you are searching for within seconds rather than hours, days, or even weeks. For example, rather than you or someone on your team searching tirelessly for every scene where:
- “two individuals” are
- “speaking to each other” while
- “outside” in
- “New York City” when it’s
those scenes can be found quickly with supreme metadata.
To avoid this pitfall, the main best practice is to find a MAM or DAM (the type of content you have will let you know which to choose – a MAM typically will handle only images or video while a DAM can handle other types of content such as documents and audio) that has metadata handling in its feature functionality and ideally one that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), so that greater details about your content (logos, names of people, objects, etc.) can be produced and contribute to your metadata taxonomy.
Pitfall No. 2 – multiple, fragmented content repositories
Many media and entertainment customers we work with, especially those that have been around for a while, have gone through multiple iterations of homegrown DAM systems. Over time, a new business case might emerge that the homegrown system can’t support, so the company adopts an additional tool for that specific business unit. Eventually, a lot of these companies end up with many different DAM silos serving different user groups. Without a single, unified repository for aggregating all content across the enterprise, users often don’t even know where to start to find the content they need. It’s critical to have a one-stop shop for assets, particularly for time-sensitive projects. But aggregating content can sometimes be a difficult conversation to have, especially when users are set in their ways and loathe to abandon processes they’ve always used in the past.
The trick to avoiding this pitfall is to adopt a DAM solution that can fit into the existing ecosystem and workflows and avoid any disruption of process. Regardless of the project or use case, the question should be, “Can my users find the relevant content they need quickly?” Other traits you will want to look for are ease of use, permission settings, the ability to ingest and store broadcast quality files, scalability, and of course, the metadata capabilities.
For the enterprise with multiple brands, you may want the ability to parse out those brands so that users have an even easier time finding specific assets – look for a DAM with multitenant capabilities.
Pitfall No. 3 – not knowing your users and their workflows
Understanding the different user personas in your organization is a critical early step. Who are the internal teams that will access the DAM, and what are their needs? How will they interact with the content and metadata that will reside in the DAM?
I’m reminded of a story about a customer that had a variety of pain points across different DAM systems they were using. We spent time with every department and documented the individual experiences of different groups of users, and it was amazing to see how many different use cases there were, and where in the process these users were getting hung up or blocked from their content. From there we were able to aggregate that info into a unified strategy that could help the company focus on the business areas that drive the most revenue, to make sure the DAM system would meet core business requirements.
Though a side benefit to addressing this pitfall, was the opportunity to reassess existing production workflows. In my experience, it is very common that workflows and business processes become institutional memory, yet many forget – or never even knew – why a particular approach was considered. My point is, this is a great opportunity to evaluate what’s working, what’s no longer necessary and potentially find ways to optimize your operations.
Hand in hand with knowing your users is understanding their content workflows and making sure the DAM system provides a set of analytical tools and metrics for measuring those workflows. You should be able to document factors such as when and where content is relevant, where users are getting stuck, how frequently a particular asset is getting used, how many times the asset is downloaded every month, etc. If you have a monetization use case, for instance, you need to be able to track how much money a particular asset is generating every month and what other, similar assets might be available for monetization. It’s about getting the biggest bang for your buck from your DAM system.
Pitfall No. 4 – not doing your due diligence in selecting a DAM partner
It goes without saying that your DAM vendor should understand your business requirements forward, backward, and inside out before making any recommendations. Will the DAM implementation disrupt current business processes? Is the sales team only interacting with executive management, or did the vendor spend time with your actual users, the people that will be using the system day in and day out? Are your executives making a decision based on the departments that will actually be impacted?
The right DAM partner will also do the due diligence to make sure the solution will meet your needs, without having to go back for rework. From the get-go, it’s about creating user personas, understanding the data schema and the content types that will need to be in the system, and getting the necessary intelligence from the customer to ensure the solution will be the right fit.
Pitfall No. 5 – overlooking usability
The DAM solution needs to provide a simplistic and satisfying user experience, with a user interface that’s clean and easy to use. A system that offers a user-friendly experience for the people that will actually use it, without throwing up blockers to adoption, is absolutely critical.
A best practice is to have your team (the actual users) involved in the selection process. Make sure you request demos and get hands-on experience in how the DAM works.
Ensuring a great DAM implementation doesn’t have to be daunting – and it doesn’t have to be homegrown to be suitable for your company’s needs. Really, it’s all about asking the right questions – and knowing the right questions to ask – before you embark on a large-scale project.