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Managing content operations

What is digital asset management?

Find out how a DAM solution can help your organization take better control over assets and house them in one centralized location.

CHAPTER 1

DAM 101: What is a digital asset?

Digital assets include photos, graphics, layouts, creative files, audio files, animations, source files, and more. All of the file types in which your digital content is available – these are all your digital assets, and you need a foolproof way to organize them.

So what is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management is software that stores all your organization’s digital assets in one place. It is the “single source of truth,” where teams can find all media assets created for the brand, allowing for easy indexing, categorizing, and searching of various file formats on multiple attributes to quickly find the right one.

It also helps users automate workflows, set expiration dates for asset licensing, and associate metadata and digital rights management (DRM) information; edit, download, or delete digital files in batches; and share secure download links to external users. These are just some of the features you should expect in a Digital Asset Management system (DAM).

Chapter 2

Do you know where your digital assets are?

Pop quiz: How many digital marketing assets does your company own, and where are they all located?

With so much material to manage and so many technological options for storing it, it’s all too easy to draw a blank when someone asks you for that packaging artwork sent via email a few weeks ago — or was it via a cloud-based file-sharing service?

From photos and videos to templates and 3D files being stored on laptops, external hard drives, or the cloud, companies with large libraries of digital media often struggle to keep it all corralled. Having various asset versions in different places can mean duplicated efforts, as well as a serious time-suck for marketing teams, sales teams, project managers, and other team members.

Digital asset management to the rescue

A digital asset management (DAM) solution helps bring harmony to all that digital discord and stop the treacherous time-suck, often with the help of artificial intelligence. Usually falling under the responsibility of the marketing team, a DAM solution serves as a single gathering and storage point for all those scattered source files, images, videos, graphics, layouts, documents, and more.

Also, DAM creates for employees and other stakeholders an ecosystem that supports collaboration since it allows for defining role hierarchies and user permissions across all workflows, making it easy for everyone to be on the same page.

It’s a centralized, streamlined, and easily controllable way to gain efficiency and manage the mountains of content most marketing teams are challenged with managing today.

Chapter 3

A brief history of digital asset management

DAM solutions have actually been around for about a quarter century. The earliest one was developed to house CNN’s more than 700,000 news clips. While it was an impressive accomplishment in the realm of content management at the time, it pales in comparison to the capabilities of modern-day systems.

Around the dawn of the new millennium, a shift away from on-premise or in-house storage and toward cloud storage began. This is when the development started on today’s web-based DAM applications. The next phase of evolution was the adaptation of DAM functionality to new sources and devices, which allowed for digital content repurpose and distribution to new channels like social media and e-commerce stores.

Chapter 4

How your company can benefit from DAM

DAM, or digital asset management, is beneficial for various individuals and organizations that deal with digital assets. The following entities often require DAM:

Marketing and advertising agencies: DAM helps agencies organize and access large volumes of digital assets such as images, videos, and logos, allowing efficient collaboration and easy retrieval for campaigns, without deviating from brand guidelines.

Creative professionals: Graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and other creatives rely on DAM to manage all on-brand media files, enabling quick search and retrieval, version control, and seamless sharing with clients.

E-commerce businesses: DAM allows retailers to organize product images, descriptions, and multimedia assets, streamlining the process of updating and publishing content across multiple online platforms, and simplifying brand management.

Enterprises with global operations: Large organizations with dispersed teams or international offices benefit from DAM to centralize and distribute brand assets, ensuring consistency in marketing materials, reducing duplication efforts, and providing a compelling digital experience.

Benefits of DAM

Digital asset management software offers diverse benefits across various use cases. However, there are several universally applicable advantages across the wide range of ways DAM systems are employed:

  • Centralized storage and organization
  • Efficient asset distribution
  • Enhanced collaboration and workflow
  • Brand consistency and control
  • Time and cost savings
  • Rights and permissions management

A well-built and maintained digital asset management system can be a marketer’s best friend. All your company’s marketing content lives in one organized environment, making it easy to view and share files and integrate with the rest of a company’s martech stack (apps and systems), like project management software, asset creation, and content management systems.

While any basic DAM system is designed to store, manage, and distribute digital marketing assets, a truly state-of-the-art one should be expected to deliver much greater value. A DAM software today must be able to handle elaborate digital asset management scenarios, including complex metadata, security, and aspects of digital rights management.

In addition to improved efficiency, a DAM solution adds value to your marketing operations by ensuring consistency and avoiding duplicated efforts. That in turn helps reduce your costs.

In addition to improved efficiency, a DAM solution adds value to your marketing operations by ensuring consistency and avoiding duplicated efforts. That in turn helps reduce your costs.

Chapter 5

Features of a digital asset management platform

Search and browse content: The primary purpose of a DAM platform is to make your marketing content quick and easy to search, browse, and share with other users. The more digital files you have to manage, the more important it is for ease of use.

Download and upload: A digital asset management platform allows users to upload content in a variety of extensions. Other users can then download that content to use across different campaigns, channels, and devices.

Add complex metadata: Metadata provides additional information about the content. Some examples of common metadata include information like geographic location, language, and more. Metadata that reflects how, where, and in which context each asset can be used is often quite elaborate, so it’s important to have a DAM system that can comfortably manage all that complexity.

Desktop and mobile: Along with the rise of the smartphone, most digital asset management platforms have made the transition from a desktop experience to one that feels natural on mobile. A good digital asset management platform should give you the ability to handle content on multiple devices.

Chapter 6

The most common challenges of DAM

Having a powerful DAM is an invaluable addition to any company. However, companies may also face a few challenges and risks that require management. Here are the most common:

Implementation and setup: Setting up a DAM system can be complex and time-consuming, requiring careful planning, integration with existing systems, and data migration.

User adoption: Encouraging users to adopt the DAM system and adhere to its workflows can be a challenge. Training and ongoing support may be necessary to ensure widespread adoption and maximize the system's benefits.

Metadata management: Organizing and managing metadata for assets can be challenging, especially when dealing with large volumes of digital assets. Ensuring consistent and accurate metadata entry is crucial for effective search and retrieval.

Scalability: As the number of digital assets grows, scalability becomes a concern. DAM systems need to handle increasing storage requirements and support efficient asset management and retrieval even as the asset library expands.

Cost considerations: Implementing and maintaining a DAM system can involve significant costs, including software licensing, infrastructure, training, and ongoing support. Organizations need to carefully evaluate the return on investment and consider the long-term costs associated with DAM.

System updates and maintenance: DAM systems need regular updates and maintenance to ensure optimal performance, security, and compatibility. Planning and scheduling updates without disrupting ongoing operations can be a challenge for organizations.

Chapter 7

An asset’s journey through a DAM system

Once a piece of digital marketing content has been created — let’s take an educational video as an example — it gets loaded into the DAM system. Metadata is then added to describe the content’s features, and finally, it’s made available to the DAM system’s designated users.

Those users can then download, edit, annotate, and distribute that asset in marketing campaigns. New versions of the marketing materials and rich media assets can be added to the system as they’re created, in order to support additional marketing channels.

Chapter 8

Traditional DAM vs headless DAM

When it comes to DAM, there are two main types: traditional DAM and headless DAM. Let's explore the differences between them:

Traditional DAM:

Traditional DAM systems are designed as monolithic platforms that typically include both a backend and a frontend interface. They offer a comprehensive set of features for managing digital assets, including asset ingestion, metadata management, asset transformation, version control, rights management, and publishing capabilities.

Key features of traditional DAM systems often include user-friendly interfaces, workflow management, approval processes, and integrations with other software systems like content management systems (CMS) and marketing automation tools. Traditional DAMs are typically built as all-in-one solutions, offering end-to-end asset management capabilities.

Headless DAM:

Headless DAM, on the other hand, follows a different architectural approach. In a headless DAM, the backend storage and management functionalities are decoupled from the frontend presentation layer. The focus of a headless DAM is primarily on providing robust APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for accessing and manipulating digital assets.

With a headless DAM, organizations have the flexibility to use their own front-end tools or develop custom applications to interact with the DAM backend. This decoupling enables seamless integration with various systems and channels, such as websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, or any other platform that requires access to digital assets. It allows developers to build tailored user experiences while leveraging the DAM's asset management capabilities.

Headless DAMs often prioritize scalability, interoperability, and flexibility, as they are designed to fit within a broader ecosystem of technologies and tools. They provide APIs that developers can use to create custom workflows, automate asset processes, and integrate with other applications.

Chapter 9

Choosing the right digital asset management system

Your digital content lifecycle, from creation to archive, is powerful, so the DAM solution that houses it should be, too. From managing brand consistency to personalizing the customer experience and streamlining workflows and brand assets, DAM providers offer a range of benefits that can fuel the growth and success of a company. A solid choice would be a digital asset management solution equipped with the features we’ve described here, that's also part of a larger integrated solution such as the one included in the Sitecore Content Hub. To learn more about DAM pricing and more, click here.

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