What is a digital asset management system? As the industry has evolved, the answer to this question seems to be getting more and more muddled. Why? With companies feeling the pressure to create more and more content, marketers are looking for a platform that can manage the end-to-end content lifecycle, from creation and distribution. This has caused digital asset management vendors to add new features that evolve them from a niche media solution to one of the key parts of the marketing tech stack.
But, without all the extra features – what are the basic functions that a DAM has to offer? In this post, we’re taking it back to the basics and explaining the key features of a digital asset management system.
A digital asset management system has 6 key features:
At its core, a digital asset management system is used to centralize and organize your assets in a single, easy-to-access library where they can be easily found by everyone. But digital asset management is about more than just collecting your assets in one place. It’s about taking advantage of the DAM’s advanced searching, downloading and sharing capabilities to ensure your assets aren’t just stored – they're properly leveraged by employees, agencies and partners to maximize each asset’s potential.
Without digital asset management, finding the right asset can take time – even if you know exactly what you’re looking for. But with a DAM system in place, your assets are more easily discoverable.
First and foremost are your keywords, which are words and phrases used to describe the assets you’re uploading. Similar to keywords are attributes, which are used to describe other important information about your assets, such as the date created, photographer name and file name. These features make it easier for users to discover your assets and are automatically pulled from your assets upon upload or added manually.
Another key feature that makes searching stress-free is a clear and concise category structure. This feature makes the library more “browseable”, as it allows you to click through multi-level folders to find the assets you’re looking for. Many DAM systems will offer unlimited categories as part of their subscription and will help you with your initial set up.
Any assets stored in the DAM are only valuable, of course, if your team can actually use them. A digital asset management system makes it easy and simple to download your digital assets, in the exact file format and resolution you need.
Any user with downloading permission is able to change the format or size of your assets on-the-fly (for example, turning a JPG into a PNG). This feature is a lifesaver for companies that have a busy design team that’s often backlogged with requests to re-size or change the format of an existing image or video.
Version Control and History
As soon as a change is made to any images or marketing material, you need to make sure that the correct version of the asset is used going forward (or sometimes, when the wrong changes are made, you need to go back to a previous version). That’s another capability of a digital asset management system – saving and tracking the history of previous versions and an ability to revert to an earlier asset at any time.
A DAM system also offers admins the ability to track who is using, sharing and editing content within the system. They provide extensive histories for each asset, from viewing to commenting, ensuring you’ll always know who has been interacting with an asset at any given time.
When collaborating with coworkers, partners or agencies, sharing a couple of low-res photos is not a problem, but, when you’re working on a large PPT deck or discussing a video, sending files over email becomes a problem. A DAM system allows you to easily share your large files in a variety of ways:
- Over Email: The most common form of sharing assets is by sending a link to an online gallery or a downloadable zip file. This is usually done from within the system itself, but some DAM vendors offer integrations that allow you to share assets directly from your email system (such as Outlook).
- Lightboxes: For longer-term projects, many companies turn to the lightboxes function, which allows you to aggregate assets from different categories, into specific project-based folders. From there, it’s easy to share your lightboxes with whoever needs them.
- Branded Portals: Common use cases we typically see for brand portals include sharing brand guidelines and supporting various campaigns. Branded portals allow users to curate and share collections of assets with internal and external users as a custom-branded online library.
Even though your assets are all in a central location, you don’t necessarily want everyone to have the same viewing and downloading permissions. A key feature that separates a digital asset management system from other storage systems is its access control structure.
Digital asset management systems allow you to create user groups that have different viewing, uploading, downloading and sharing abilities, ensuring that your assets are only used by the right people at the right time. This means that your contributors are able to easily upload their content into your system and your users will have confidence that any assets they are able to access are approved for their use.
With these key features alone, companies worldwide are experiencing cost savings and team efficiency improvements. But, for a DAM system to become a central part of the entire marketing ecosystem, organizations are taking it a step further by integrating their DAM into their existing platforms.
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Ready to learn more about digital asset management? See why DAM is at the center of scalable marketing tech stacks with our eBook, "A Scalable MarTech Stack Starts with a Solid DAM Foundation".
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. See MediaValet in action today.