In a fully digitized world it becomes increasingly difficult for companies to manage all assets efficiently. Digital Asset Management (DAM) software helps you tackle these challenges.
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As consumers, we are practically drowning in digital assets. Every day, we receive hundreds or thousands of visual and written inputs. The situation is no different within organizations. With so many customer touchpoints and marketing channels, the list of media assets to manage and use grows by the day. It becomes more challenging to navigate all those assets to deliver projects on time and to the spec required. Digital asset management is the way to overcome all these challenges and more.
In this guide, you’ll learn what it is and how to manage media assets within the digital content lifecycle. We’ll even show you some of the most common digital asset management (DAM) use cases to illustrate the benefits of having the right DAM solution.
What are Digital Assets?
We’ve mentioned this term a couple of times already but what is a digital or media asset, really? Well, in the simplest terms, a digital asset is any content that’s stored digitally. Any physical content, a newspaper, magazine, book or a DVD disc would not qualify as a digital asset. On the other hand, any file containing rich media like video clip, a photo, a document or any other digital media is a digital asset.
There are, most likely, hundreds of different digital media asset types. However, the most common file formats in use today are:
- Audio files,
- Powerpoint presentations and other slide decks,
- MS Office documents,
- Plain-text files,
- HTML documents, and
Some digital storage experts also name three common characteristics of digital assets:
- These assets are digitally stored, typically on a hard-drive or a server somewhere,
- They are also easily identifiable by a file name attached to them, and
- They contain information that’s of value to a person or a company.
What is Digital Asset Management, Then?
Digital Asset Management (DAM, for short) is a process of managing, organizing, and distributing digital assets from one, content location or a hub. Another term used for DAM is Media Asset Management (MAM). While a MAM was more focussed on video in the past, today’s modern DAM solutions offer the same video capabilities. Both type of system are almost indistinguishable from each other, as we explain in our article about Media Asset Management.
For example, a DAM could route rich media assets to a Content Management System (CMS), so that they are displayed on a website. This is also one of the more significant differences to a CMS — while a CMS primarily displays content to the public, a DAM acts as a hub for all sort of content in a company.
DAM’s core objective is to help organizations create and manage content throughout the entire content lifecycle. Software for digital asset management, in turn, helps create, archive, manage, repurpose and even manipulate digital assets. It can also support companies in their content marketing efforts or allow for an optimized management of product assets in an e-commerce store, such as for SAP commerce.
The above happens by assigning metadata. Metadata are unique descriptions for each asset and makes it easier to find, filter and manage within an organization’s entire ecosystem.
Who Uses DAM Processes?
Digital asset management can aid practically every department within an organization. However, there are some specific departments that deal with digital assets more than anyone else:
- DAM provides a way to manage and use the brand-specific creative files. What’s more, it ensures compliance with the brand guidelines, regardless of where the team is located.
- IT teams use DAM to ensure file compliance across companies’ devices and tech stack,
- With DAM, sales reps can create various sales materials – presentations, decks, proposals, and others – ensuring that they always work to the latest version of the file.
- DAM also makes the life of law professionals easier, especially if you think of rights management and GDPR-compliant content management.
- Finally, PR and Marketing use DAM to manage assets required for various campaigns and initiatives.
But Why Should You Manage Digital Assets in the First Place?
PR and traditional marketing initiatives rely on text and visual assets like photos and graphics. Digital marketing strategies like SEO or content require even more assets, all in a whole variety of file formats. All this poses challenges for brand management to maintain consistency across all marketing initiatives. Sales teams constantly output various documents – proposals, presentations, and other sales enablement assets. Not to mention that each of those includes a whole range of other assets, from graphics to copy. Unfortunately, those teams often waste tens of productive hours on locating the right assets for their projects.
The multi-channel aspect of today’s marketing also forces companies to expand the number of digital assets they use. Maintaining brand consistency is one of the key ways for providing a strong customer experience, after all. Finally, as organizations grow, so does the cross-organizational use of digital assets, increasing the need for a formalized way to manage media files and other assets.
A quick introduction of CELUM Digital Asset Management Software
Managing Digital Assets Across the Entire Content Creation Lifecycle
1. Content Creation
DAM processes increase efficiency and streamline the content creation process.
First, DAM processes centralize all assets. With that, all departments can access whatever files they need whenever they need them.
With DAM software, those files are no longer scattered across shared drives and servers. Instead, teams can access them through direct integration between a DAM platform and whatever other tools they use to create content.Finally, DAM platforms typically contain the latest versions of the file, meaning that teams always work with the most relevant assets.
2. Asset Management
DAM brings media assets in one place, meaning that departments can access and use those as they please. However, to manage digital assets properly, DAM also introduces the option to set up management permissions. In doing so, it protects an organization from having a mess with digital files due to version clashes, overwriting and more.
DAM systems allow specifying file access permissions – viewing only, upload, editing or approval – to increase the control over asset management.
3. Asset Distribution
When properly used, digital asset management software becomes the central hub for all digital assets. A key aspect of the process, then, is to distribute and give access to those assets to relevant teams to streamline content production. This, typically, happens in a number of ways. API allows connecting DAM software with any other tools used in content creation to share assets between them. For example, an API can connect the DAM platform with a content management system, making all assets available there at the touch of a button. Other methods for distributing assets are shared links that users can email or forward to others using other communication methods.
Finally, DAM platforms assist in archiving files that are no longer in use to avoid them being included in new content initiatives. Many DAM tools like CELUM offer the ability to specify file versioning and set expiration dates on assets to prevent them from being used in the content.
Digital Asset Management Software – What It Is
We’ve mentioned the term – digital asset management software – a number of times in this guide but without proper explanation. Let’s talk about it now, then.
Digital asset management software is a platform you use to conduct the DAM processes we’ve described earlier.
A DAM platform performs a number of functions within an organization:
- It provides a repository where the organization can store digital asset for use when creating, producing and managing content,
- It becomes a digital assets library for shareholders to access digital assets whenever they need to.
- DAM software also facilitates content creation and collaboration, utilizing digital asset management processes across the content’s lifecycle.
- Finally, DAM software facilitates better brand management by enforcing all departments to work with the same, most up-to-date versions of digital assets.
What’s more, its benefits are hard to refute.
- Teams using the digital asset management software, typically, spend less time looking for relevant assets for their projects,
- DAM also unifies the assets used across the organization, regardless of the department’s location or role.
- With DAM, departments create and manage content from one place, reducing the possibility of mistakes and wrong assets being used.
- But digital asset management also helps identify opportunities for repurposing digital files and boosts interdepartmental collaboration.
- Finally, having all digital assets in one place simplifies brand management for global companies.
However, with many DAM vendors on the market, you should approach the selection process in a structured manner.
Different Types of Digital Asset Management Platforms
So far, we’ve been talking about DAM platforms in general. There are many different types of them, however, and it’s important that you know the difference to choose the right one for your brand.
Some DAM products focus on brand asset management. These products focus on storing marketing-related content mostly – logos and other branded assets – to assist teams with creating successful campaigns fast.
Library asset management systems, on the other hand, streamline storage and retrieval of assets that change rarely. The best way to think of them is photo libraries that give shareholders access to files they need.
Another type, the production asset management system, is more comprehensive, focusing on storing assets used in digital production.
Finally, we can also differentiate DAM software based on how it is being implemented within a company. There are three ways to do it:
- SaaS, where the platform is hosted in the cloud on the vendor’s servers. The end client can access their account via the browser then.
- Hybrid in which part of the product resides in the cloud and the other is deployed on the client’s premises.
- On-premise software resides entirely on the client’s premises. It is the client who provides the storage and equipment to run the software.
How does the DAM software fit into a typical organization workflow?
The benefits of DAM software are clear. However, it’s harder to realize the immense power such platform delivers for an organization. In fact, implementation of a DAM system needs some preparation and we do have a post on this too: Digital Asset Management Implementation – How does it work exactly?
Its effect is two-fold, actually.
Firstly, it helps unify the brand across regions, languages, and cultures. By having all digital assets in one place, an organization ensures that all teams, regardless of where they are, use the same brand assets. This results in a complete unification of all communication strategies across the globe.
Secondly, DAM also unifies customer experience with a brand. Customers engage with brands on so many channels these days. Even the company’s support may be scattered across email, social media, chat, chatbots, and many other platforms.
By forcing the use of the same digital assets across all channels, the organization ensures that customers experience consistency in their engagement with it.
When to Use Digital Asset Management – Use Cases and Examples
Use Case #1. Maintaining Brand Consistency
Today, brands must retain the consistency of the brand across all communication channels more than ever before. Customers use a multitude of ways to engage with a brand, and it’s imperative that they have the same experience on all of them.
The problem? With so many departments involved in brand communications, ensuring the consistency has never been harder.
DAM software allows companies not only to ensure that departments use the same, latest versions of various assets. With DAM, companies can also enforce the use of branded guidelines, templates and other assets that ensure consistency of the brand’s image.
Use Case #2. Managing a Global Brand Image
Similarly, global brands must maintain a constant image in all markets they target. Having all brand assets centralized in one location gives them the ability to control the image across all the company’s locations and international departments.
Use Case #3. Improve File Management Workflows
Anyone sharing files and digital assets across shared drives and servers will attest to the problems such a workflow generates. Versioning issues, wasting time finding the correct asset or files getting overwritten are just some of the challenges such teams struggle with.
DAM simplifies the entire file management workflow, also ensuring that no such problems occur.
Use Case #4. Quicker Access to Assets
By centralizing all assets and simplifying labeling and filtering, digital asset management software also ensures quick file retrieval. Teams can access their desired assets from within the DAM platform or directly in the tool they use to create content thanks to API connections.
Use Case #5. Streamlining Approvals
Rarely, assets can get into production without relevant approvals. Without digital asset management, however, obtaining those approvals requires relying on file sharing, email, and other channels. DAM can centralize the entire workflow, allowing brands to get assets production-ready much faster.
Use Case #6. Improving Asset Security
Many organizations fear to have old or outdated files used in marketing or business communications. DAM improves asset security by allowing to set expiration dates for assets, permissions for teams to control file versioning and more.
Digital asset management processes are no longer an option for today’s brands. It’s the only way to navigate the astonishing variety and number of digital assets required to complete projects on time and to the spec required.
Similarly, having the right digital asset management software means being able to avail of all the many benefits DAM offers organizations.