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Acquia acquires Widen digital asset management

DAM is an old idea making a big comeback for marketing teams trafficking in online video. Acquia adds the Widen DAM to its digital experience platform.

Acquia signed a definitive agreement to acquire digital asset management vendor Widen to enhance its DXP experience platform.

Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, Acquia's co-founder Dries Buytaert confirmed it is the highest price it has paid to acquire another company so far.

Widen's well-known DAM system is one of a few that cater to enterprise customers, said Deep Analysis founder Alan Pelz-Sharpe. Widen has 135 employees and claims 700 customers, including Carnival Cruise Lines, New Balance and Progressive.

Digital asset management comprises the ingestion of files such as audio and video into libraries. DAM technology catalogs files, writes metadata for the files, provides users with search tools to find digital assets in libraries and makes them usable upon retrieval -- which may include translating to different file formats.

The typical DAM system may be run by a few people at many organizations. Widen's DAM scales for larger marketing teams that may be spread across multiple locations, Pelz-Sharpe said.

"It gives Acquia more credibility in the market," Pelz-Sharpe said. "Digital asset management's conundrum has always been limited budget for really complex technology. I think it positions them really well against people like Adobe."

Acquia said it will continue to offer Widen as a standalone product. It will also add Widen integrations with Drupal, the open source content management system Buytaert developed 20 years ago.

Acquia DXP the beneficiary

Acquia acquired Widen to enhance its digital experience platform, Buytaert said. While the company could have built DAM and PIM systems on its own, Widen is well-established in the market and comes with a loyal customer base.

Drupal integrates with many DAM vendors, Buytaert said. Widen is designed for large marketing teams, often managing many brands, who need flexibility to use and repurpose digital assets across print, websites, social media, and other assets such as posters, signage and store displays.

Digital asset management vendor comparison chart

So far, the Acquia DXP includes modules for content management and marketing as well as e-commerce integrations with many platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce. Acquia also forged partnerships with Elastic Path and Commercetools, two headless commerce companies popular with Drupal developers.

"We've been looking [a DAM system] for a long time," Buytaert said. "We've looked at a lot of different players in the market. We felt strongly that Widen was the best one, and we were lucky that they felt excited about joining Acquia as well."

Marketing teams are probably the main users of DAM systems in the customer experience workflows, and e-commerce managers also rely heavily on PIM hubs to keep their sites' listing pages current and accurate. Pelz-Sharpe said that he sees customer service teams tapping DAM repositories to develop materials that enable customers to find answers on websites.

We looked at a lot of different players in the market. We felt strongly that Widen was the best one.
Dries BuytaertCo-founder, Acquia

"Customer support is another strong use case for DAM," Pelz-Sharpe said. "There's the drive towards self-service -- getting the customer to figure [things] out for themselves."

Digital asset management makes a comeback

Digital asset management as a process for cataloging rich media files originated in the 1990s. In the years leading up to the internet and the early days when bandwidth was severely limited, publishers found their physical workspaces littered with hard drives as well as SyQuest and Zip cartridges. They needed a way to organize, manage and catalog those files on their internal networks.

The idea of digital asset management never completely went away, Pelz-Sharpe said. Healthcare networks, for example, use DAM repositories to curate large digital libraries of their patients' medical images.

But DAM's present resurgence can be attributed to marketing teams' expanded use of video and audio files. Marketers want to meet their customers on the channels where they are, such as social media like YouTube, TikTok and podcast sites. Managing that content and branding calls for sophisticated DAM systems.

Today's DAM tooling requires connectivity to APIs for developers and features that enable asset lifecycle management -- things that probably weren't on the minds of early DAM technology users, Buytaert said.

"We work with a lot of marketing teams around the world, and they're constantly producing new digital assets, whether it's images, videos, PDF documents -- you name it," Buytaert said. "They're constantly creating content. A DAM helps them manage all of these different files and all of the workflows around them, whether it's approval workflows, translation workflows or governance-related workflows."

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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