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Special Report: Buying Corporate DAM Systems: A Manager's Guide To Procurement Best Practices

This report offers purchasing and procurement tips for managers involved in decisions about selecting a DAM system. Also included is an example RFP with questions that specifically relate to Digital Asset Management.

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Enterprise Digital Asset Management: A Guide For IT Professionals

Practical advice for IT professionals on issues from systems integration to the IT infrastucture requirements for Digital Asset Management.

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Video Digital Asset Management: 12 Crucial Points For Marketers

Marketing managers are invited to consider 12 crucial points that will determine the success or failure of a web video archive.

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Articles

Digital Asset Management: An Introduction For Marketing Managers

What is Digital Asset Management?

This article is about Digital Asset Management or "DAM" as it is often abbreviated to. In particular, it is concerned with how marketing and PR managers working for large and medium sized organisations can use Digital Asset Management. If you are an SME or photographer looking for information on setting up your own DAM system, the resources section at the end of ths article has links of interest, also, our Digital Asset Management Glossary is a useful general reference.

In simple terms, Digital Asset Management is a description of techniques, tools and concepts associated with the management of digital files. This description can include any kind of digital media that the business may generate or use. Marketing managers are usually concerned with branded assets used for marketing communications purposes, for example:

  • Promotional videos
  • Images and photographs
  • Logos and structured drawings
  • Product animations or non-film footage
  • Print collateral (e.g. brochures, leaflets etc.)
  • Fonts
  • Audio files such as podcasts or radio adverts
  • Sales presentations (PowerPoint, Flash etc.)
  • Office documents such as Word or Excel

There may also be business-specific digital assets, such as statistics used as sales aids to demonstrate ROI, 3D models, walkthroughs and panoramic photos. Any media that is used by the business for marketing and promotional activity should be included as part of a digital asset management strategy. Since DAM has application other elements of the business, Digital Asset Management systems for marketing use are frequently referred to as Brand Asset Management systems.

Why bother managing digital assets?

From a senior managers perspective, the key benefit of DAM is the ability to generate more value from the digital assets an organisation owns. The business case for DAM is to a greater extent about improving operational efficiency - but there are other benefits also. The following is a summary:

  • Reduce costs by not re-generating material that already exists.
  • Save time by helping users to find assets faster
  • Provide assets instantly rather than waiting for them to be delivered.
  • Reduce the risk of copyright breaches.
  • Increase collaboration across the organisation by pooling assets.
  • Obtain greater control over the corporate brand.
  • Supply staff and suppliers with assets that adhere to brand guidelines.
  • Preserve assets that may have both cultural and/or financial value.
  • Generate revenue by selling (or licensing) assets to third parties.

What activities does maintaining a DAM involve?

Digital Asset Management involves making planned decisions about how the business utilises it’s digital media in a consistent and structured fashion. The following activities are normally involved in maintaining a DAM:

  • Storing assets: how assets will be stored, where, the backup and retrieval techniques will be used
  • Cataloguing assets: the descriptive tags or terms will be applied, business specific information that will be recorded about assets, rules and policy about how they should be used.
  • Searching for assets: the methods your colleagues and suppliers are likely to want to find media, the search phrases and techniques that will help them find the assets they need faster.
  • Using assets: copyrights restrictions, ensuring that usage is properly tracked and recorded.
  • Reviewing assets: finding out which assets are being used most, the assets users want but are not finding, assets that are under-performing and suitable for removal.
  • Improving assets: identifying what type of assets the business needs more of, the incremental improvements that could be made to provide more relevant and useful assets.

Although this centralised approach reduces the autonomy individuals may have over assets they have generated or purchased on behalf of the business, this does not mean that they should be ignored when a Digital Asset Management system is introduced. As described later in this article, it is essential to get the support and participation of all marketing staff.

Digital Asset Management involves making planned decisions about how the business utilises it’s digital media in a consistent and structured fashion. The following activities are normally involved in maintaining a DAM:

What does a Digital Asset Management strategy need to include?

An effective Digital Asset Management strategy will ensure that assets pass through a number of key stages to maximise the value that can be obtained from them. This can be referred to as the ‘digital asset supply chain’. The stages are as follows:

  • Ingestion
  • Search
  • Use
  • Review
  • Refinement
Ingestion

This is the process of introducing an asset to a system, assigning descriptive terms to allow it to be found (or metadata as it is referred to) and storing it where it can be accessed by users. Ingestion may also involve a digitisation phase where analogue assets are converted into digital form.

Search

This refers to the provision of search engines and other tools to help users find relevant assets based on the data entered about them. Tools to help users keep track of their selections (e.g. shopping carts, shortlists or lightboxes ) may also be provided.

Use

Generally marketing managers will not be willing to allow users to download everything that might be available without some form of authorisation - even if the business owns copyright to all of it’s own assets. As such, some usage approval is necessary. This can be as simple as ensuring a user has agreed terms and conditions or it may involve a complex approval process where requests have to be signed off by a number of different parties.

Review

Having accurate and relevant reports about which assets are being found in searches, used, by who and for what purpose is clearly an essential element of a DAM strategy. To realise this, reporting tools and dashboards to allow marketing or PR staff to get an ‘at a glance’ view of the system are important as well as more in-depth reports.

Refinement

Armed with tangible information about which assets are being searched for, found and used, marketing staff can begin to refine both the assets in their DAM and the techniques used at each stage of the process to continuously improve them both.

A Digital Asset Management strategy highlights the digital asset supply chain that already exists in marketing operations. Although marketers may not always realise it, this is similar to more obvious ones in other areas of the business (e.g. production or finance). As with these departments, effective management of the value added at each stage allows marketers to identify where bottlenecks are developing or quality standards are not being achieved, make the required changes and test the results.

Whether large or small, all organisations that decide they need to implement Digital Asset Management strategies will need to follow a framework like the one described. The key difference for marketers operating in corporate environments is the size of the task and the number of people who need to be coordinated to deliver it successfully.

How many assets are needed before a DAM is cost-effective?

Ideally, organisations should begin considering a Digital Asset Management system as soon as it becomes apparent that they are likely to add to their stock of assets on an on-going basis. For practical purposes, at the point where you have 500 or more files and/or staff are finding they spend a lot of time looking for materials then it is a good time to consider it.

Where can I find out more?

You can read the follow up to this article: Digital Asset Management: Implementing A Strategy and the following links contain more information.

Digital Asset Management Glossary
A glossary explaining many of the terms commonly used in Digital Asset Management.

DAM reports and resources
Our repository of free to reports, articles and related resources. This has plenty of information about DAM.

Our own Digital Asset Management Blog with opnion and news about Digital Asset Management subjects.

About the Author

Ralph Windsor is a senior partner in digital asset management implementation consultants, Daydream. He has eighteen years experience of delivering DAM and content technology solutions acquired as a developer, project manager and consultant working with global clients such as WS Atkins, Major League Baseball, BNP Paribas and The British Museum.

To find out more about Daydream and our service, please email info@daydream.co.uk or telephone us on: +44 (0)20 7096 1471.