What is digital asset management (DAM), and why do I need it?

If you are in an organizational department — particularly marketing or advertising — you are probably overseeing many, many project files on a daily basis. It’s a good bet that they are on many different workstations, and possibly in many business offices around the world.

Particularly when it comes to working with graphic, video, audio and text documents for marketing promotions, how do you keep them organized and control them? How do you make sure that people are using the correct, most updated content? How do you keep consistency in your branding?

This is why there is digital asset management.

A digital asset management system (DAM) keeps all these assets in a centralized place, where you can manage content and share it with others around the world. It can assure that your messaging is consistent and, by making all this content easily available, offers advertising and design departments more time to do what they do best: be creative.

What is a digital asset?

Whether on a business server or a personal computer at home, we pretty much all own digital assets. A digital asset is any digital file that we possess. It doesn’t matter what kind, from a photo to video, to an Excel spreadsheet. They are not physical, like a painting, coin, or piece of furniture. However, like a physical asset, a digital asset can be owned and has value.  As long as we own the rights to use them, it is an asset.

For many businesses, particularly in marketing departments where many types of documents are accumulated, this would include collateral of any kind, the artwork—photos and illustrations—that are in it; and even the text! This could also include any corporate videos or audio records.

You need the right to the assets

There is one additional rule: As long as you have the right to use the content, they are assets. So, they must be digital, and you must have the rights to use them. Even if you have a license for the right to use it—and, thus, is an asset—it may not necessarily mean that you own the copyright and the ability to sell or send it anywhere else. That only belongs to the author.

An asset is more than its content. Usually, there is background information about the document. This is contained in what is called metadata. Sometimes metadata only lets you know the filename, who the author is, and when the file was created. More sophisticated systems may add other information, such as keywords—for example: “quarter page giraffe ad created by Wildman Agency, November 2019” and “French version”. Some assets could include the rights to the images and the cost to use them. Some may also include when and where the assets were used.

Do you have too many digital assets?

But what happens when you own thousands of digital assets? Marketing and advertising departments are always changing content. What happens if these come in different versions—some of which that are incorrect or out of date? How do you track them? If you need a digital asset quickly, you’d better know how and where to find it.

That’s where digital asset management software (DAM) comes in.


What is digital asset management software?

A digital asset management system (DAM) offers a place to store, organize and share your digital assets, allowing your digital partners a central place to retrieve this content in a secure environment. Most important, of course, is providing a location for you, your organization and partners to access these files quickly and easily.

In doing so, it ensures that people are getting the most recent versions of your assets, protecting the brand and products you own.

Organizations continue to discover the value of digital asset management platforms. According to Mordor Intelligence, the digital asset management market was valued at $2541.8 million in 2019, and is expected grow 21.23% annually between 2020-2025.

Digital asset management best practices

There are ten core characteristics of a good digital asset management application, as defined by the Codified Consultant: They are also a good start to defining best practices:

  1. Ingest: They must be able to input assets individually or in mass sets, and allow for assets and their metadata to be manipulated either individually or with mass actions.
  2. Secure: DAM systems secure the assets they contain.
  3. Store: Digital asset management software stores assets as both binary and metadata. They can store multiple file types and allow for the customization of metadata fields.
  4. Transform: They can render or transform assets when they are ingested into new forms, such as thumbnails. These new forms should all be stored as asset parts of the original document
  5. Enrich: Digital asset management platforms enrich assets by expanding metadata and metrics about the use and reuse of the asset.
  6. Relate: DAM software relates assets to one another by tracking the relationships between and among the original asset and versions of the original.
  7. Process: Digital asset management applications regulate a structured process in the creation, management and review of assets within workflow tools. They allow decentralized workforces to collaborate in a centralized system.
  8. Find: DAM solutions allow users to find and retrieve assets through searches of metadata, collections, workflows, and access control tools.
  9. Preview: Digital asset management platforms provide previews allowing users to view assets before downloading or opening a document on their own device.
  10. Publish: Digital asset management systems produce and publish content by offering ways to share, link to or distribute assets outside the system. They integrate with other tools or systems.

A good system also allows an organization to determine how efficient they are in managing their assets, by providing key performance indicators (KPIs).

Basically, a digital asset management solution makes sure that the right people get access to the right content at the right time. It also includes a reporting system so that those who are managing the DAM can understand how and where the assets are being used.


Digital Asset Management vs. Media Asset management

Lots of people get confused between digital asset management (DAM) and media asset management (MAM) systems. MAM software systems were developed for, and are used primarily for, audio and video content. The film industry created them to make available centralized systems for those large media files. Even though the delineation between the two systems has become cloudy, there are still differences. They both are used to store content in a centralized area and make it easier to find files.

  1. Focus: DAM software was created at first to manage static assets (like photos and graphics), although now they handle dynamic media, too. While both store, organize and share digital assets, can work with archival systems, and offer metric like KPI, a MAM focuses more on audio and video content. So, DAMs were more likely to manage brand or library assets, while MAMs controlled video/audio editing.
  2. Workflow: Because a MAM was built to hold video and audio files, most digital asset management systems include tools to follow through the entire project from start (design) to finish (archive). They make it easy for supply chain partners to collaborate—sharing, reviewing and approving content.
  3. Integration: While most DAM platforms integrate with just about any third party system through API-based or customized connections, MAMs are less likely because of the original nature to just store and manage rich media. A good hint: before you invest in a system, make sure it can be connected to the software you use.
  4. Video editing: A MAM is built to work seamlessly with editing tools such as those from Adobe or Avid. Digital asset management solutions are less likely to do so.
  5. File availability: DAM solutions typically handle many, many more files that MAMs. So, they employ much faster and much easier search systems and have more effective versioning so that users can find the most recent content. They also tend to keep better metadata records concerning tracking of work done on the files, and rights properties.

Digital asset management by use case

In the corporate environment, many DAM software systems are used by marketing departments, because they have the challenges of storing and accessing a tremendous amount of content. The needs include:

  • Managing thousands upon thousands of files
  • Assuring consistent branding and messaging
  • Overseeing access to a global network
  • Sharing content with many partners
  • Collaborative requirements
  • Management of versions

As you can imagine, there are many types of organizations that utilize digital asset management. They include:

Do you have more questions? Let us know! https://www.dalim.com/contact-request/


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