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What is a Headless DAM and How Can It Help?

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

4 min read

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The need to provide consistent, on-brand, and visually rich experiences for customers across all platforms and channels has seen the development of an increasingly complex marketing technology (Martech) landscape. The typical martech stack now includes CDN, PIM, CMS, and much, much, more—in fact, it’s been reported that the marketing team at an average enterprise uses 120 different marketing technologies. It’s simply not realistic to think that every team member using these tools is logging directly in and out of so many channels... exactly where headless DAM solutions come into play.

What is a Headless DAM?

With a traditional DAM, users log into the library and then search for, share, download or reformat the digital assets they need, all from within the DAM. A Headless DAM, however, is "digital asset management software features without a user interface or front-end” — DAM features are instead plugged into other services that teams already use and enjoy, whether that’s another piece of software or a custom solution. This enables you to build custom, top-to-bottom solutions and workflows that connect assets with your entire tech stack using low-code solutions such as web generators or iPaaS solutions, like Workato.

Headless DAM vs. Integrated Content Hub

In 2018, Real Story Group shared the concept of an “integrated marketing content hub”, in which DAM is bi-directionally integrated with multiple systems in an organization’s technology stack. The critical component of this is that it’s bi-directional, meaning that in addition to pushing assets to a platform, the connection will also serve to report data back to the DAM, so it can be reviewed from one central location.

While an integrated content hub offers a great solution for those looking to only supply other platforms with content, a headless DAM enables organizations to create custom applications and workflows that dynamically manage, manipulate and distribute digital assets using triggers and actions across platforms.

What are the Benefits of a Headless DAM?

There are 5 key benefits of a headless DAM:

  1. A single, centralized location for all content: Every user can find what they need in one convenient hub, with no confusion on versions or formats.
  2. Fewer information silos: Easy access to content from any location, for all users that have permission, means that everyone is on the same page.
  3. Custom UI tailored to your business: Companies can build their own interface and aren’t required to use the DAM’s UI. Since each industry has its own unique set of user needs, this helps set up for success using the DAM.
  4. Better digital dexterity: Technologies and tools can be easily swapped out, making it easy for your organization to stay nimble. A Headless DAM is not tied to out-of-the-box integrations.
  5. Easier custom solutions: APIs built with headless functionality in mind are created for ease of use. This allows the companies to truly build a solution that addresses their use case.

Functionalities Made Available with a Headless DAM

Once you've implemented a headless DAM, there are endless opportunities that it can bring to your organization, including these 6 functionalities:

  1. User Management: Create new user groups and add, delete, or edit those groups within other platforms, such as your identity and access management tools.
  2. Distribution: Access your assets from within other platforms for downloading, sharing, transforming, and more. When an asset is updated, the new version is dynamically updated across all channels.
  3. Quick Uploading: Transfer new assets to your DAM directly from your desktop or other applications, mapping relevant metadata.
  4. Publishing: Create embed links or upload your assets directly into your publishing platforms.
  5. Advanced Search: Find your assets within other productivity tools using enterprise-level search capabilities, such as advanced filters and AI-generated tags.
  6. Report Creation: Gain valuable insights by generating customized reports based on information tracked within your DAM.

Who is Headless DAM best for?

A headless DAM is best suited for enterprise organizations that require custom solutions, have a suite of technology tools they want to connect with, and have complex or multiple teams that all need access from within platforms (and often custom access). In today’s geo-dispersed working world, a headless DAM is an important tool for these bigger teams that are working with large amounts of assets.

It’s important to note, as well, that headless DAM is only suited for organizations that have a technical team that can implement, maintain, and support custom solutions.

Is it Time to Upgrade?

The foundation of a strong headless DAM is a clean, easy-to-use API. MediaValet’s API is consistently praised for being easy to understand and connect with (plus our customer success team is pretty amazing). Learn more about MediaValet's open API here.

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