Everything you need to know about digital asset management (DAM)

What the devil is digital asset management (DAM) and how can it make your life easier? Michael King speaks to those in the know to find out more

What exactly is digital asset management (DAM)?

Jason Arena, CMO, Northplains: DAM is a collection of new and approved assets, which could include logos, copy, images, video clips, audio files, fonts, icons, illustrations, packages, brochures, and campaigns. What a DAM approach enables marketers to do is to securely store and organise all files with metadata, which makes them searchable for future use, sharing and distribution.

DAM solutions make it easy to consume, find, share and deploy assets, so marketers and creatives can spend more time thinking about creating and making the most of digital assets – and less time trying to find them. Like any marketing technology, DAM has evolved, and today it incorporates a variety of integrations, workflow and analytics tools that enable marketers and creatives to manage the end-to-end content lifecycle.

Why hasn't it taken off in the UK in the same way as the US?

Svante Nilsson, VP product marketing, Aprimo: I haven’t seen any numbers supporting the statement that DAM hasn’t taken off in the UK as much as in the US. What we do see, however, is that some functionality offered by DAM systems is embedded into other systems, like web content management systems and ecommerce platforms. Adoption of DAM as a practice will only increase as the need for content rises and time to market continues to shorten.

Jason: DAM has been around for over a couple of decades – even if people haven’t always called it DAM – and what’s interesting right now is how it’s evolving from just a means to store and find marketing assets, to one that encompasses the entire content lifecycle from ideation through to the completed asset. DAM adoption varies, but more according to industry rather than geography, because the nature of those industries is very specific. DAM used in the pharmaceutical space, for example, is more widely adopted by many departments because the industry is regulated and compliance is critical to efficacy and success.

“Five years ago, none of us could have predicted the explosion in marketing-led online video: choose a DAM and vendor that can handle those types of big leaps” 

Jason Arena, CMO, Northplains

What are the benefits of using DAM software?

Jason: DAM makes teams more efficient and delivers better ROI because it decreases cost, workload, employee headcount and loss of time. It also enables your team to focus on the roles they were hired for. If you estimate half an hour in a day wasted, in a one-person shop that’s equivalent to two hours a week or four days a year, and when you move to enterprise teams that loss expands rapidly. In a 250-person enterprise creative team, that's a time suck of over 26,000 hours annually.

Anthony Tate, head of product marketing EMEA, Box: Brand consistency is a major benefit for marketers because DAM enables them to manage content throughout the entire content lifecycle. This gives them much more control over content and means files are less likely to be lost and will not need to be recreated.

What are the limitations of using DAM to manage content?

Anthony: A big limitation is that while it secures brand consistency, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee the security of the assets themselves. This isn’t useful for verticals where marketers have certain compliance requirements to meet or if you’re in an industry where you have high-security protocols that need to be in place.

There are also limitations around different departments being stubborn about the systems they use to manage content. This creates internal silos because if one department is happy managing content using their own system, they may be reluctant to change. The first step here should be to collect all digital assets and store them under one unified platform. Users can then be given access rights, depending on what they need to do – whether that's downloading, sharing or editing the assets.

“Brand consistency is a major benefit for marketers because DAM enables them to manage content throughout the entire content lifecycle”

Anthony Tate, head of product marketing EMEA, Box

How should marketers select a good platform/provider? What should they look out for and avoid?

Jason: A few big things to consider here are the features you’ll need (i.e. what’s essential versus what’s nice to have), and how well the DAM platform will integrate with the rest of your martech stack. It’s also important to consider whether you’ll need an on-premise solution or whether you’d benefit from the flexibility of a cloud-based service.

Employee productivity is another aspect because you’ll need to find out if DAM will impact on how people already work, as well as how easy is it to use, especially for non-technical people. Things like backing up assets, data security and compliance are other things to think about as well. And when thinking about pricing, marketers will need to consider up-front versus longer term costs and ROI.

Make sure that your chosen vendor has a robust post-sales and professional services team that will be there to support you through to onboarding as well as provide you with a solution that can evolve and scale to meet your changing needs. Five years ago, none of us could have predicted the explosion in marketing-led online video: choose a DAM and vendor that can handle those types of big leaps.

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