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What is Digital Asset Management (DAM) 

Digital Asset Management is the discipline of organizing and tagging digital files or digitized files into a cohesive filing system that has a data schema attached to each file to allow for the further description of the contents. By managing a companies assets, revenue can be saved by reducing the time and increasing certainty in finding any type of file an associate may need. This is done through the management of access rights and governance over the information in the DAM.


What are the characteristics of a Digital Asset Management System?

According to the DAM Foundation, a true digital asset management system will be able to:


  • 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.

  • Offer asset security, with defining controls and permissions for access and use of the system.

  • Store assets as multiple file types, with customizable metadata fields attached to each asset.

  • Render and transform assets into other forms, such as different file types or sizes.

  • Enrich assets with metadata and metrics over the course of the asset’s lifecycle.

  • Track and relate asset versions, that connect variants to the original asset.

  • Regulate a structured process for managing, creating, and reviewing assets with workflow tools to improve collaboration.

  • Find and discover assets with comprehensive searches using metadata, keywords, and categories, based on access and permission structures.

  • Easily preview assets before downloading, to reduce time spent searching for a correct asset.

  • Produce and publish content via sharing, linking, or otherwise distributing outside the system.


If your system can't do these things easily and out of the box without you having to purchase additional components or go to other vendors to complete these tasks, it's not a DAM.



The Benefits of a DAM

Here are some of the key benefits of DAM solutions for content marketers:

  • By making internal processes more efficient and enhancing team collaboration, a DAM frees staff to spend more time on the core creative work that brings in revenue.

  • By making it easy for team members to access the digital assets they need, a DAM speeds review, approval, and delivery of final files to get content to market faster, giving you an edge over your competition.

  • By offering permission-based access to digital content as well as digital rights management controls, a DAM helps to avoid common problems such as publication of outdated, off-brand, or unlicensed creative assets. This helps improve the quality of your brand communication to protect brand investments and even mitigate business risk.

  • By giving authorized users quick, easy access to the files anytime, anywhere, a DAM eliminates time-intensive, costly file searches and recreation of missing assets.

  • A DAM eliminates the need for staff to post and deliver files to multiple locations. In addition, it eliminates the costly errors and inefficiencies caused by different versions of the same file in multiple places.

  • A DAM can be integrated with your marketing resource management (MRM), product information management (PIM), content management system (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), or other marketing automation solutions. It acts as a single source of truth that helps you better manage projects, allocate resources, personalize and target content, and understand which assets are performing best across different channels.

  • A DAM makes it significantly faster and easier to repurpose content across devices and platforms, opening up possibilities for new revenue streams. For example, some agencies make asset distribution a profit center by charging for every upload or download.

  • Agencies can use a DAM to create secure, private web-portal sites customized for individual clients, partners, or teams.

  • A DAM can help the sales team centralize proposals so that the entire team can easily review and collaborate. Efficient digital asset management also can be a value-added service that can help win business.

  • The best DAMs also track the traffic for timely reporting and, if applicable, client billing.




Four Good Steps

This is part of a Widen Deck that does a good job of defining what any person or organization needs to do in order to make an educated decision when buying a Digital Asset Management System (DAM). I will often use this as a good starting point before defining where an organization or department is in their journey of implementation.

My Philosophy for 

Digital Asset Management

There are dozens of companies that say they do Digital Asset Management and they will sell you what they call a DAM. It is often the case that
many of these providers' DAM solutions don't meet the requirements of what a DAM is, or what a DAM should do for your business needs. You can spend thousands of dollars, even $100,000s to purchase a DAM system and then find out it can't do or does do well, what you really need accomplished to streamline processes and deliver an ROI. If you can't realize a return on your investment and you can't make people's lives easier, then you should not be looking at bringing in a DAM.

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Below is a great infographic on the business case for digital asset management. Apple has given us Photos for keeping our personal inventory of pictures straight. Can you imagine what a large corporation has to do to keep its employees on the straight and narrow on branding, logo usage, hero shots, lockups, social media posts, and public relations? DAM can be the solution to all that. But of course, just putting a system does nothing. Many of these systems have long ramp-up times, certain people have to be hired and there is a long process of getting everyone on board to use the DAM properly. The more departments it touches, or the more systems you need to integrate with, the longer it will take. Having a core group of passionate, driven experts will aid you greatly and increase the return on investment.

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