What is Digital Asset Management

Now more than ever, companies are struggling to create a meaningful connection with their customers and differentiate from their competitors. With the majority of personal and business communications taking place online, creating original content has become a key way for brands to stand out and engage with their audiences.

This flux in original content has shaped an exponential increase in asset creation, with content, creative operations and media budgets growing year over year. But as they invest more, marketing teams are now facing pressure to maximize the return on both their content and creative operations investments. This has caused digital asset management to quickly become a must-have for marketing teams across the globe.

What is Digital Asset Management - Visual Content

What is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management (DAM for short) helps companies manage, organize, share and distribute their digital assets from within one central library. It improves the productivity of marketing teams and increases the ROI of content and creative programs. While almost any digital file can be managed within a DAM, the most common digital formats include:
Photos
Photos
Videos
Videos
Audio Files
Audio Files
Presentations
Presentations
Graphics
Graphics
3D Files
3D Files
PDF Files
PDF Files
Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets
Documents
Documents
Illustrator Files
Illustrator Files

Characteristics of a Digital Asset Management System

According to The DAM Foundation, a true digital asset management system will be able to:
  1. Ingest digital assets individually and in sets, and allow for actions, such as sharing and downloading, to be performed to the assets on-mass or individually.
  2. Offer asset security, with defining controls and permissions for access and use of the system.
  3. Store assets as multiple file types, with customizable metadata fields attached to each asset.
  4. Render and transform assets into other forms, such as different file types or sizes.
  5. Enrich assets with metadata and metrics over the course of the asset’s lifecycle.
  1. Track and relate asset versions, that connect variants to the original asset.
  2. Regulate a structured process for managing, creating and reviewing assets with workflow tools to improve collaboration.
  3. Find and discover assets with comprehensive searches using metadata, keywords and categories, based on an access and permission structure.
  4. Preview assets before downloading, to reduce time spent searching for a correct asset.
  5. Produce and publish content via sharing, linking or otherwise distributing outside the system.

Benefits of Digital Asset Management

A digital asset management system acts as a single source of truth for a company’s content and brand assets, such as logos, typefaces, product visuals, and RFPs. It’s primarily used as the content and brand hub for marketing departments, but as content types expand, it’s becoming more common to see other departments taking advantage of a DAM system, as well.

By giving self-serve access to assets with a DAM, companies are able to find the assets they need more quickly and efficiently. This gives the following benefits to organizations worldwide:
Makes internal processes more efficient
Makes internal processes more efficient
Enhances team collaboration
Enhances team collaboration
Improves brand consistency
Improves brand consistency
Makes repurposing content easier & faster
Makes repurposing content easier & faster
Improves time to market on projects
Improves time to market on projects

Types of Digital Asset Management Systems

Cloud-Based

Also frequently referred to as a SaaS model, a cloud-based DAM is a software-based system that requires no hardware or servers to maintain. Hosted entirely on the cloud, this type of DAM offers a cost-efficient and scalable option for companies looking to securely store their assets, without the added costs of upkeep, upgrades and maintenance. Cloud-based DAM systems are often selected by companies that require user access from multiple (often worldwide) locations, access to upgrades and the latest features, and reduced total-cost-of-ownership.

On-Premise

An on-premise DAM is one that’s hosted on the buyer’s own internal servers, and requires additional storage space, back up/recovery processes, and IT support. This type of DAM is usually selected by companies who have requirements to keep their assets within their own data center, and have a large IT department that can support any maintenance and upgrades needed for the DAM. On-premise DAM systems have high up-front costs due to the hardware required, in addition to the ongoing upgrade & maintenance expenses, which often makes it more expensive than its cloud-based counterpart.

Digital Asset Management ROI

ROI on a digital asset management system can be complex to calculate, as it changes with each company’s use-case. To understand the value of a digital asset management system, you need to consider these three factors:

  1. Strategic Benefits: The impact a DAM has on company-wide projects and initiatives, such as rebranding and mergers.
  2. Tactical Benefits: Improvements to each DAM user’s productivity and efficiency.
  3. Quantifiable Returns: Money or hours saved with a DAM.

For an in-depth, step-by-step guide on justifying the value of a DAM initiative, take a look at How to Build a Business Case for Digital Asset Management.

Getting Started with a Digital Asset Management Project

Every digital asset management initiative is going to take a different path to their goals, but all successful DAM projects started with these three steps:

  1. Audit your existing assets and pains

    Before looking at any DAM vendors, it’s important to understand how your company is currently operating. Look at where your assets are stored (on hard-drives, personal storage, legacy systems, etc.), the sizes, formats and volumes of your assets, and any processes that are in need of improvement. This step is key in understanding the scope of your project, and how much storage you actually need. In addition to analyzing your current needs, also consider any potential growth in the near future that needs to be accounted for.

  2. Map out your needed structure

    After understanding how you currently operate, it’s important to map out how you’ll need your DAM platform to function. Plan which divisions, departments and users will benefit from accessing the DAM, and consider the level of access they will require, and any integrations they could benefit from (such as Adobe Creative Suite or Office365). During this stage, also consider the onboarding and support needed for each team, to ensure your vendor can meet your unique requirements.

    This is also the best time to think through the taxonomy you’ll use for organizing your assets inside the DAM, as well as understand best practices around searching, tagging and sharing assets.

  3. Create a project roadmap

    Most successful DAM projects have a roadmap with multiple short and long-term milestones. These milestones usually include vendor demos, creating a vendor shortlist, starting legal reviews, and onboarding. Develop a plan with realistic dates and stick to them to keep your DAM project moving along smoothly, and avoid any potential bottlenecks.

    This is just the first few steps towards successfully implementing a digital asset management system. For a step-by-step guide to selecting a DAM vendor, check out our eBook: The DAM Buyer’s Guidebook.

More Digital Asset Management Resources