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Learn the basics of digital asset management

Digital asset management helps organizations manage rich media, which is essential for marketing pros. But organizations must consider the software's challenges before adopting it.

Digital asset management is a class of enterprise software that stores, organizes and distributes images, videos and other rich media. Digital asset management software manages these assets for specific business purposes -- ensuring brand consistency, accelerating media production for advertising campaigns and curating digitized artifacts for museum collections.

DAM software maintains digital assets in a shared repository and organizes them with descriptive terms -- or metadata -- for easy search and retrieval. DAM systems offer APIs to integrate with related services and automatically produce and deliver digital or analog assets to multichannel endpoints. The system also controls access for security purposes, so only people or processes with the appropriate privileges can create, read, update and delete assets.

Benefits of DAM

A DAM system enables an organization to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate risks, among other key benefits.

Provide a single source of truth. A DAM system is more than a networked file-sharing tool that stores rich media files. It can support digital asset reuse and become an organization's system of record.

Marketers and publishers no longer need to search through multiple online collections or request custom photoshoots for specific media. Instead, digital designers, producers and other users can incorporate photos and videos from a single DAM system into their products. They know a leader on the creative team has already approved the media for distribution, appropriately branded and up to date.

Simplify teamwork. At the center of any ad campaign is a creative team -- designers, photographers, videographers, editors and other creative professionals -- who produce brand experiences. Creative professionals must work smarter, faster and more productively, both individually and with one another. To do so, they must focus on business-critical activities and minimize time spent on less important tasks.

A DAM system can provide digital services -- optimized around the ways creative teams work -- in a shared repository. Additionally, the system can reduce the time designers and editors spend on administrative tasks, such as searching for files or making handoffs in a production process.

Monetize the rich media supply chain. Digital assets have commercial value, including the licensing rights for stock photos, branding a video clip's images and sounds, or essential information on product labels. Organizations invest considerable time and effort to maintain their brand identities, business personas and valuable content.

A DAM system can track how organizations use digital assets. This is essential for digital rights management, which measures whether assets have licenses for use within specific geographies, their required fees and whom to pay. DAM usage is also important to track engagement and viewership, including measuring the assets' popularity in different scenarios and helping marketers identify the best assets for their messages. Additionally, a DAM system can generate metrics and insights to fuel digital experiences.

Challenges of DAM

DAM requires upfront investments in time and resources, among other challenge areas.

Categories and metadata. A DAM system tags assets by different categories. Some are descriptive, like naming objects within images or identifying scenes in video clips. Others offer context, such as the date, time and location data on photos or the natural language variants and display resolutions for videos.

To identify relevant categories and metadata, a DAM system relies on well-defined information architecture. Agile organizations must continually refine and update these categories as business operations evolve.

Business processes. A DAM system aims to structure how users generate and use digital assets within an organization.

However, many creative and marketing activities are often implicit and designed to resolve operational issues quickly. When adopting a DAM system, business leaders must assess creative activities and identify costly bottlenecks where a DAM system can generate substantial ROI. Leaders must then redesign business processes and manage operational changes to ensure creative and business teams can adapt to new ways of working.

Digital experiences. Digital assets contribute more and more to digital experiences. For instance, partner marketing teams need customized videos to stay competitive and relevant. DAM capabilities must evolve with rapidly changing business needs to manage rich media and produce relevant digital experiences.

On the other hand, enterprise IT teams must incorporate DAM capabilities into cloud-based enterprise architectures and manage the technical risks of embedding digital assets in their business operations.

Key takaways

DAM systems offer essential capabilities for digital transformation initiatives where images, videos and other kinds of rich media are critical to business success. However, whether the DAM software is within a dedicated platform or its features are embedded within a digital experience platform, organizations must prepare for potential challenges.

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