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Industry Insights

Digital Asset Management in 2018: A Summary of the Year

  • 8 min read

2018 - What a year!

DAM gained incredible momentum, consolidated vendors, refined its purpose and aligned with more marketing core disciplines, making this a standout year for the industry.

In this post, we’re looking back at the developments that drove this year’s customer scenarios and vendor roadmaps for DAM.

Developments in DAM 2018

Here are some of the most notable developments that happened in the DAM industry:

DAM was recognized as a critical component of the MarTech stack

2018 was the year that digital asset management solidified its position as a critical component of the mid-to-enterprise marketing tech stack, along with CMS, project management and marketing automation platforms.  

Early in 2018, Gartner’s Bryan Yeager positioned DAM as the Marketing System of Record at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, noting that integrations into other systems are driving differentiation and innovation in the DAM space. This year, digital asset management providers invested heavily into integrations into the entire spectrum of existing creative, digital, productivity and automation platforms providing a library of approved content, without altering user workflows.

John Horodyski, of Optimity Advisors, also discussed DAM as the foundational element of a mature technology stack in “Why DAM Is the Heart of Your MarTech Stack”, highlighting DAM as a necessary component of efficiently organizing and distributing visual content.

The underlying shift behind this trend is the shift in DAM’s primary purpose from organization and archiving, to overall marketing enablement, aligning with major marketing use cases. With this in mind, DAM vendors built product roadmaps and messaging around scenarios like sales enablement, content creation and curation and brand management.

AI further emerged in the DAM space

For the past two years, AI has been discussed and implemented across digital asset management platforms, primarily addressing automatic tagging use cases using AI-aided metadata, such as color, emotion, object and facial recognition. The significance of artificial intelligence has differed across vendors, with various approaches to implementation.

Amazon-based Bynder, Widen and WebDAM introduced packaged auto-tagging functionality, anticipating AI capabilities to take on the majority of the work needed to add metadata to assets with up to 80% accuracy levels.


WoodWing, a provider of both on-premise and cloud-based DAM, emphasized the balance between the promise of auto-tagging and the importance of human-validation, striking the balance between volume and accuracy levels, reaching 90% accuracy levels.

MediaValet focused on delivering enterprise-grade AI functionality, with the core premise of “assistance, not replacement”. They emphasized keeping AI-generated data separate from overall metadata and leveraging tiered AI offerings to achieve a high level of accuracy and organization-specific keywords.

There are still some concerns regarding AI in DAM, as outlined here by Ralph Windsor, but regardless of these limitations, artificial intelligence has found its way into digital asset management and is here to stay.

MediaValet hosted a webinar with Henry Stewart DAM, A practical approach to AI using Cognitive Metadata, covering the role of AI, guiding principles and implementation options.

DAM started facilitating the entire asset life-cycle

While cloud-based digital asset management started as a management and distribution platform for completed content, this year, DAM took the stage as collaboration hubs for distributed marketing and creative teams. Real Story Group added Work-in-Progress Creative Management to its Digital Asset Management key scenarios, noting it as “an increasingly important use-case as creative and marketing teams become more integrated.” They also declared 2018 as “The Year of DAM”, as DAM became a key marketing enabler for enterprise organizations.


This shift put the pressure for on-premise DAM solutions to provide the robust search, collaboration and global distribution capabilities of a cloud DAM and, in turn, demanded cloud-based DAM solutions to provide comprehensive workflow and work-in-progress features for high-volume creative production. In addition to built-in workflow DAM functionality, this resulted in integrations into multiple project management tools, such as Workfront, Wrike, Slope and Asana.

To address the cloud DAM creative production demands, MediaValet’s released CreativeSPACES™, the DAM industry’s first hybrid cloud-to-desktop-to-cloud creative solution.

Video surpassed images as key DAM driver

Over the last 2 years, video creation has increased drastically for marketing teams across every country and industry. In fact, today, more video content is uploaded in 30 days than major US television networks have created in the last 30 years. This, along with the increased use of HD and UltraHD content in marketing strategies, added the challenge of efficiently collaborating on such large files, especially when working across multiple offices and partners. This boosted the demand for digital asset management systems that could manage, share and preview large, high-definition video assets.


This increased not only the demand for DAM, but also the expectations for media storage and scalability. Companies leveraging video content as part of their marketing strategy will surpass their storage limits at a much more rapid rate than those that are producing images and documents.

Complex file types became more common

With an expected worth of $20 billion in 2020, virtual reality has been rapidly increasing in popularity since 2016. That, along with the addition of augmented reality (as seen in popular phone applications like Pokemon Go), created an opportunity for marketing teams to create unique virtual experiences for their customers. With an estimated 171 million active virtual reality users, leading customer-facing organizations, like Destination BC, were keen to capitalize on this new asset type to better engage with their customers.

This rise in popularity caused the management of 360-degree augmented and virtual reality files (such as .obj) to became a topic of conversation across the digital asset management industry, with DAM vendor, Nuxeo, even hosting a hackathon in Lisbon on the topic. Similar to video, AR/VR files required infinite scalability for from DAM systems, as well as more advanced features for viewing and sharing with relevant parties.”

Notable News of 2018

Here are some of the most news-worthy moments for DAM in 2018:

Bynder acquired WebDAM

The year’s first announcement that shook the digital asset management industry was when Bynder purchased WebDam from Shutterstock for a whopping $49.1 million. As two major DAM players in the industry, Bynder and WebDam often competed as similar solutions, so the merging of the two companies surprised many of the other vendors (and some customers). Ralph Windsor, industry leader and author of DAMNews had some interesting insights into the purchase and how it will impact each company’s customers and innovation in the DAM industry.

“DAM Lite” solutions were phased out and discontinued

Within 6 short months of each other, two digital asset management vendors, Widen Collective and Bynder announced the discontinuation of their “DAM Lite” solutions, SmartImage and Orbit (respectively). This decision left thousands of DAM users worldwide with the difficult decision: transfer their assets to a system with a higher price-tag or revert to their previous system for managing assets.

The closing of these two solutions posed the question: are “lite” solutions truly able to replace DAM and can DAM solutions scale when they’re offered at a considerably lower price?

The DAM Federation launched

Following the closure of the DAM Foundation in January of 2017, and a number of other DAM-related education sites, ten information service providers joined to form the DAM Federation. This association aimed to provide a mutual platform for these individual sites, to better enable them to develop and continue to provide DAM-related resources to the community.

The Digital Asset Supply Chain Consortium was formed

In May, at the Henry Stewart NY 2018 Conference, it was announced that Assetbank, Brandworkz, Daycream, GSPANN, PicturePark, MediaValet and MerlinOne had joined to create the Digital Asset Supply Chain Consortium. The consortium was built to create a forum for digital asset management industry professionals, including vendors, endusers and consultants, to discuss, research and implement standards for improving the efficiency of digital asset supply chains. With this consortium, DAM vendors can explore the viability of blockchain and its impact on the digital asset management space.

Here’s to 2019

MediaValet Team Photo

As we look back on the past year at MediaValet, we’re proud of the new features and solutions we were able to bring to our customers. Here are some of the awesome things we were most excited about this year:

Thank you to everyone that has contributed to an incredible year here at MediaValet. We're so excited to see what 2019 has to bring!

Carlie Hill

Sr. Manager of Content Strategy at MediaValet

Carlie Hill