How does one of the top-ranked universities in the world maximize the usage of their original assets across multiple teams and regions without even breaking a sweat? This was the question we had for Anthony Petre, Manager of Brand and Marketing Services at the University of Wollongong, Australia.
As a self-proclaimed “lifer” at the University of Wollongong, Anthony wrestled for years with ad-hoc and inefficient means of sharing central marketing assets. Knowing there must be a better way to operate - one that would reflect their open and collaborative attitude - Anthony and team began their search. Intrigued what their adventure turned up? This interview shares their unique story.
First off, can you give a 30-second elevator pitch on the University of Wollongong?
“Yeah, sure! The University of Wollongong is one of Australia's top modern universities. We're based in the regional center of Wollongong, which is about an hour away from Sydney. The university was originally funded by donations from the local people, and is now one of Australia's most global universities, with 10 campuses across China, Hong Kong, Dubai, Malaysia and Australia.
We have a great reputation as the top-ranked university in New South Wales, and one of the top universities in the world. We’re renowned for our Innovation Campus, which incubates high-quality research and scientific discovery, and provides a place for local businesses to flourish.”
Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and what you do at the University of Wollongong?
“So, I’m a bit of a Wollongong “lifer”. I studied at the University of Wollongong, then transitioned into full-time work in the printing department. Now, after studying for my masters, I’ve pivoted into Marketing and Communication and managed to land a job in Strategic Marketing, which was a bit of a dream come true. I work alongside some really talented people that bring the University of Wollongong message and brand to life.
I also met my wife there, so a lot of my life milestones started at the University.”
What initiated your search for a digital asset management system?
“OK, it’s a two-part answer.
First, it was challenging to share central marketing assets - if at all. Our unit is quite collaborative and open, yet our systems didn’t really follow that attitude.
Second, even when we did share assets, it could only be done locally within our own team using network shares, WeTransfer, Dropbox or temporary sharing tools. This left a whole suite of departments that couldn’t easily access our marketing assets. We wanted to be more transparent with what assets are available and find a way to surface them for the users and communicators on campus.
MediaValet has allowed us to enable our self-service vision, which has helped create a much more open, collaborative and supportive environment.”
What made you select MediaValet over other vendor options?
“We weren’t looking to undertake a huge digital transformation – we simply wanted an impactful cloud-based DAM solution that could integrate with Single Sign-On.
We looked at a few larger solutions that needed large IT infrastructure change, development and consultants, as well as a couple of others that were on-premise software providers, but these weren’t the right fit.
MediaValet was the best fit for us, as it would allow us to scale in the most efficient way. When I say this, I mean it not only in terms of cost, but also the ability to scale across campuses, locations, user groups and access levels without having to completely reinvent the DAM. It could stretch to other use cases incredibly easily.”
What types of assets are being stored in MediaValet?
“At the moment, we store images, covering two use cases. First, we have what we call ‘marketing images’, which are generally from photoshoots, and have associated model releases for. These can be used across various channels and uses. Then, we have ’media images’, which are usually captured in association with a specific story and have more restricted uses relating to that story. We file each of these separately, as they have very different usage rights.”
Can you describe the team using MediaValet today?
“We've set the system up so that all UOW staff (3000+ people) have “read-only” access to the library, and then we have a more limited group of about 60-70 people across the institution, who have the ability to download and share.
All users and permissions are integrated with Single Sign-On so that if anyone leaves the university, their staff account is made inactive, so we don’t need to audit our user list for staff who have moved on. It enables us to scale quickly, without worry about who has ongoing access to our central image library.”
Has MediaValet helped you save any time or costs?
“I couldn't put an exact number on what we’ve saved, but there was a significant overhead associated with the way we were sharing assets in the past. When a request came in, the team would have to find an image, send it on, and if the client wasn't happy, they’d need to find another one. It was an incredibly inefficient back and forth.
There was also a risk associated with this. If you don't have easy access to assets, you're more likely to create your own library, more likely to invest in your own system and more likely to need to invest in new shoots, rather than using assets that already exist.
Having a shared, central and scalable asset library has significantly reduced our overhead centrally, as well as ensure other marketing staff in the institution didn’t need to invest in either a solution or potentially duplicate shoots.”
Were there any unexpected outcomes?
“The ability to categorize assets - specifically, where assets in MediaValet inherit categories as keywords, has provided us with significant benefits. We don’t have much time to dedicate to adding metadata, so we instead dedicated time to create a strong, clean taxonomy to serve the same benefit. When it's correctly categorized, it's easily searchable or browsable. It’s something that we didn't really anticipate would have such a benefit.
The other feature we’ve benefited from is the integration with Single Sign-On. It means staff administering users in the system don’t necessarily need to know all the ins and outs of MediaValet - they just need to know which user group to add them to.”
What’s your favorite MediaValet feature?
“I love the star rating feature, and I actually have a little story on that...
The University was implementing a new CMS for the main website, and Strategic Marketing was helping to support that with branding and imagery. So, to help scale image choice and usage, we pre-approved a bunch of images in MediaValet (by rating them) then extracted anything rated 4-stars and up to use in the CMS.
Another amazing feature, which was just released, is cropping! We've already received a ton of positive feedback on how useful and timely it is! It has allowed us to cut out steps – enabling users to crop in-platform – so they don’t have to train or use Photoshop.”
What’s next for digital asset management at the University of Wollongong?
“Next, we’re looking to scale MediaValet to our global campuses in Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and some partnerships in China and Singapore, so they can get the same benefits. We can look to add images from their campuses into the library and categorize them accordingly. Marketing teams offshore can also look to use pictures from the Wollongong campus, and vice versa.”
What advice do you have for others implementing a DAM?
“Communicate with your users and try to organize them into groups that make sense for them. One group of users might just want a simple view, and another might want more nuanced advanced features. MediaValet is very flexible in permissions and user groups, so consider who needs what and work with your Customer Success Manager to understand how that can be provisioned.”
Last question – We LOVE movies at MediaValet and considering you’re part of our family, what's your favorite movie and why?
“As the kids get older, and as their sense of humour is develops, we’re finding more movies that we can all enjoy! Shrek is a standout in the household – it has some great characters and hits a bit of nostalgia and subtle “adult” comedy. One of the benefits of working from home has been being able to be more present – and maybe even have some input into what we might watch on Friday nights.”
MediaValet is a leader in cloud-based digital asset management that helps organizations manage, organize and share their digital assets, improving productivity and increasing ROI. With unlimited users, training and support, MediaValet helps universities and colleges extend their assets across campus.