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DAM Knowledge

What are Digital Assets?

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

6 min read

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What are digital assets? The term "digital asset" has become more common in marketing and creative communication - and with good reason. According to Venngage, 74% of marketers now use visuals in over 70% of their content. But, there is still a disconnect between what is considered a digital asset. Is it just any digital file? If not, what are the other criteria? 

This blog post explains:

We explore the key elements of digital assets, share examples of digital assets, and explain how to evaluate their value and why digital assets are important to your business.

What are Digital Assets?

Gartner's Glossary, defines digital assets as digital material owned by an enterprise or individual including text, graphics, audio, video, and animations. Traditionally, people have considered digital assets to only include photos and videos. Over the years however, we've started including other digital files in our definition, such as documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

The definition of a digital asset is constantly changing as new digital formats are emerging in business. It’s important to remember that the file format is only part of the definition. The other portion of the digital asset definition is derived from the value the asset brings to the company.

There are 3 key elements that make any single file a digital asset. A digital asset must:

  • Be a digital file owned by an individual/company,
  • Provide value to the individual/company, and
  • Be searchable and discoverable (usually with metadata).

What kind of file types are considered digital assets?

In order to fully understand what digital assets are, here are some common digital asset types:

  • Photos,
  • Videos,
  • Audio files,
  • Presentations,
  • Graphics,
  • PDFs,
  • Spreadsheets,
  • Documents,
  • Design files,
  • 3D files,
  • and more.

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What is the Difference Between Digital Assets and Other Files?

To help identify the difference, Theresa Regli, a DAM industry expert, describes digital assets as “something represented in a digital form that has intrinsic or acquired value”. To simplify, the key difference lies in whether or not the file adds value to the company.

For example, an image from a photoshoot used in a social media campaign to raise awareness of an upcoming event and drive registration, is considered a digital asset. However, if a rough screenshot is sent in a one-off email to a potential client, the image itself has minimal long-term value and would likely not be considered a digital asset.

When evaluating the value of your digital assets, there’s more to consider than just the hard cost of them. It’s also important to consider 2 factors: the time spent producing it, and the ability to recreate it.

1. Time and Effort to Produce

When evaluating production value, consider the time, resources, people, and planning that it took to create the asset. Often, an organization's most high-value assets are those that take a considerable amount of time and effort to create. Losing a single photo, while inconvenient, can be resolved quickly, by re-editing the raw file or selecting another. A fully-edited and ready-to-distribute eBook, however, will take significantly more time and effort to recreate and get re-approved. Even if you still have each individual asset. This is an incredibly common challenge. In fact, in our recent DAM Trends Report, 41% of organizations without a digital asset management (DAM) solution in place reported having to recreate or repurchase an asset.


A single image can be reproduced or replaced

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An entire eBook is more challenging to replace

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2. Ability to Reproduce

Assets also become increasingly more valuable when they’re impossible to recreate. These types of assets usually come from one-time, never-going-to-happen again events, where even all the time and money in the world couldn’t recreate that moment. For example, as the marketing department of a sports team would know this all too well, a single photo of a game-winning goal can be extremely valuable and can’t be recreated if it’s misplaced. When just looking at the costs to create that asset, it's just one of the hundreds of images taken by the photographers in a single night, but to the marketing team, this single photo is more valuable than gold.


An image of a football is easy to recreate

What are digital assets 3

Why Are Digital Assets Important?

The way that we do business is changing and emotions have always influenced buying behaviors, but now it’s about more than just producing cool ads to drive customer demand. It’s about who is connecting the best with customers, and how they're doing it. In an increasingly digital world, most connections are happening across online channels: exactly where your digital assets come in.

At their core, digital assets are the visual representation of your products, services, culture, and, ultimately, your brand. As the key drivers of online engagement, digital assets represent the connection between your company and your customers. They give you the ability to interact with customers how, when, and where they like.

How to Make Digital Assets Discoverable

Assets are valuable only if they can be found. When you’re working with a lot of digital assets, it’s important to take steps to make sure they’re discoverable and can be managed efficiently. This is done with the consistent use of metadata (keywords, titles, photographer name, etc.), and a smart taxonomy (category structure):


Metadata is essentially data about data providing a variety of information about the asset, beyond its basic filename. There are two types of metadata that include the following:

  1. Technical metadata: usually displayed automatically, such as resolution, photographer name, dimensions, and size.
  2. Descriptive metadata: describing a resource for the purpose of discovery, such as title, description, and keywords.

Most commonly, people tend to associate metadata with keywords. Your keywords are key to powering asset search and give you the power to label your assets in a way that’s relevant to your unique business needs. Here's a helpful guide to keywording.


A taxonomy is a hierarchical structure that allows you to categorize and classify your assets to ease navigation, and identify relationships between assets. Using a taxonomy will help users intuitively browse for assets in a digital asset management system, especially when they’re not exactly sure what they are looking for. Here's a helpful post about building a taxonomy.

While a basic form of both metadata and taxonomy can be done in-house, many companies take advantage of a digital asset management system. It enables true control of their digital assets and gives instant access to the people that need them.

Better Manage Your Digital Assets With a DAM

Digital assets have become the essential tools of brand loyalty, with every single digital interaction coming back to visuals and copy. But, your assets are only valuable if they can be found and used efficiently. For a step-by-step process to finding a DAM vendor, download our eBook: How To Buy a DAM.

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.

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