What is Digital Asset Management (DAM) and How it Works

What Is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management (DAM) practices and tools help you better organize, manage, and utilize your digital assets. DAM practices help you define guidelines for standard management of digital assets, and DAM tools help you maintain and enforce these practices.

A digital asset is any file that provides value, from logos for branding, video files and images for marketing, to PDF files and presentations for sales and pitches. Since digital assets come in a wide range of formats, it is important to use tools that support as many formats as possible. 

A DAM solution provides capabilities for better control, portability, access, flexibility, and sharing of digital assets between collaborators. Ideally, the DAM tool should let you collaborate with in-house staff, various departments, customers, as well as third party supplies and partners.

What Are the Benefits of DAM?

There are many benefits to implementing DAM practices and tooling across your organization. You can use DAM to improve productivity and efficiency, maintain brand integrity and consistency, create backup copies of your content, and secure your assets.

Improves Productivity and Efficiency

The majority of organizations have undergone digital transformation. Today, many businesses are digital-first. This means organizations are using more and more digital assets. As these assets accumulate, it becomes significantly difficult to manage and properly utilize all files.

A DAM solution provides features that drive efficiency into the digital asset management pipeline. For example, the tool can centralize all files, and enable detailed collections that group files into categories. 

There are also tools that come with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and can perform various tasks automatically. For example, AI can automatically tag images, very quickly, significantly cutting down on the time it takes to organize files. 

Maintains Brand Integrity & Consistency

To become unique and set themselves apart from competitors, organizations work very hard to create their brands. A brand can be represented in many different ways, and the majority of which are visual. 

Company logos, photos, videos, and color palettes are all used to send a consistent message across various media channels – this is our brand, this is what we do, these are our products, services, colors, values, etc. 

Keeping these assets in a central repository helps maintain brand consistency. If, for example, a role in the organization needs a logo for a presentation. Let’s say it took a month to create the presentation, and the company logo was added in the beginning. 

By the end, a new version of the logo was created, but the presentation was not updated. Yet the role went on and distributed the presentation. These mistakes can be prevented by using a DAM solution, which easily shares and distributes digital assets.

Content Backups

DAM solutions offer various options for creating a backup of your content. The most common option is automatic versions. This feature saves a point-in-time copy of your copy every time changes are made. 

You can use these copies as backups, and restore previous versions. You can also leverage these copies if you accidentally modified a version and want to restore a previous version. Typically, recovering a version is a matter of only a click and a couple of seconds. 

Provides Secure Asset Allocation

Brands store and use many digital assets, many of which serve to create visual representations of the brand. Some of these assets, like logos, should be easily shared and distributed. Other assets, like demos and in-progress product designs should be kept secure, shared only between relevant roles.

A DAM solution provides capabilities for granular access control. You can choose to share certain assets with all of the organization, while keeping other assets secure and inaccessible. This way, trade secrets, demos, and prototypes can be kept securely, while still being part of the centralized digital asset hub.

Types of Digital Asset Management (DAM) Solutions

While DAM solutions originated from basic metadata catalogues, today DAM is a category all on its own. However, since many still refer to basic metadata catalogues and ad-hoc MarTech as DAM, it is worth understanding the differences between these types of solutions. 

Basic metadata catalogues

A basic metadata catalogue provides a centralized location to store and organize rich media files in one digital library. These libraries cannot store all digital asset files. Rather, the catalogues support only rich media files, like images. 

WordPress, which is a popular content management system (CMS), uses basic metadata catalogues to store the rich media files uploaded to each site. The library is simple and not sophisticated, making it very slow to work with when you need to distribute thousands of media files.

Ad-hoc MarTech

Ad-hoc marketing technology solutions, also known as MarTech, provide features dedicated to specific marketing tasks. These features are typically designed to extend the existing capabilities of a solution, and can easily be installed or deactivated. 

WordPress plugins, for example, provide extended features, including media libraries that can better organize rich media content. 

Centralized DAM solutions

DAM solutions are designed especially to serve as a centralized hub for digital asset management. These solutions can store almost any file type, provide granular access control, easy sharing features, and smart searching and auto-tagging capabilities powered by AI.

Some DAM solutions also provide features for bulk actions. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to upload, download, modify, share, and distribute digital assets. You can integrate your various channels to the DAM solution, and then easily and dynamically manage and distribute all of your assets.

Conclusion

A digital asset management solution provides features that go beyond the basic metadata catalogues of ancient Internet times or clumsy library plugins that slow down sites. A DAM solution is not just a centralized repository for digital assets, not just a collaboration tool, not just a solution for easy distribution. A DAM solution is dynamic and smart, letting you serve users with personalized and highly-relevant content.

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