Content comes in many formats—words and text, podcasts and audio, photographs and images, videos, slides, whitepapers, e-books, and reports—and you need a system in place to manage it all. Whether you’re creating a little content or a lot, digital asset management is an important part of your overall content strategy.

Digital asset management (DAM) is a major category of content technology. To understand that in a broad sense, read our Content Technology Fact Sheet. To understand DAM and what it means in relation to content, we must first define it.

Digital asset management (DAM) is a business process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions. Rich media assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts, and other multimedia content. – Tech Target

Colleen Jones, author of “Clout” and CEO of Content Science, notes that DAM is growing in importance: ““We need more content assets than ever before because all business functions are going digital and demand highly dynamic, personalized, and optimized experiences. Optimizing an experience alone—with automated A/B testing driven by machine learning—can require hundreds of digital assets. Whoever can manage those assets well will have a competitive advantage.”

We continue to make investments at this [technology] level, including a CMS, DAM (digital asset management), analytics, curation, and marketing automation. These are all important tools for a digital content marketing program to succeed. – Ed Youngblood, Director of Content Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, CMO Council’s Marketing Magnified

To function effectively, DAM should be a foundation in your digital strategy and it should be integrated with other aspects of your existing technology. These mechanisms of engineering and evaluating are crucial for content success to obtain operational and intellectual control of your digital assets. Most companies rely on DAM software coupled with a small team with the capabilities to assess and manage those assets. Make no mistake, the DAM software market can be dizzying with many options on the market, so it’s good to do thorough research to match DAM software services with your needs. Capterra ranks the best of the bunch.

The image content universe contains 122 million users uploading content on Flickr, 500 million active users on Instagram, and more than 1.79 billion users on Facebook. – Social Pilot

DAM as a technology strategy is up there with project management and communication–it’s critical from an operational sense. With digital files more and more the norm in content management, having a DAM system in place is no longer an opt-out option for most companies. To understand the full scope of the digital management universe, read our Omniverse Fact Sheet.

Digital assets across the entire economy doubled over the past 15 years, as firms invested not just in IT but in digitizing their physical assets. — Harvard Business Review

Webdam explains the lifecycle of a digital asset, emphasizing that created, managed, and delivered aren’t the only steps; companies must track the performance of these assets and identify opportunities to reuse and repurpose high-performing pieces or repackaging or removing lower-performing pieces.

digital asset management

A commitment to improving your digital asset management is crucial for many reasons, including lowering costs and increasing productivity. A McKinsey report shares that workers spend an average of 19% of their workweek searching for and gathering information, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

…digital asset management is different than content or web content management and requires a different support structure (and training). It is an important cost—to establish and maintain this organizational infrastructure that is largely specific to the DAM. – Digital Asset Management News

There are costs associated with DAM technology, which can include everything from software to other systems integration to hosting to project management to data migration. The reality is, you can’t afford to not have some sort of system in place. However, depending on the scope, it likely won’t come cheap, and that’s not just in software. “If you want to implement your own digital video archive and rich media storage infrastructure, it’s going to cost you a lot in terms of technology, resources, and manpower,” says Rino Petricola, Vice President for digital media solutions at Oracle. But the investment is a must to stay ahead of your competition, as the Global Digital Asset Management Market 2017-2021 report forecasts, “Global DAM marketing will grow at a CAGR of 20.5% during the period 2017-2021.”

Think of a DAM system as a marketing technology tool that enables you to connect your digital assets with customers—and by extension with revenue sources. – DigitalAssetManagement.com

Much like financial asset management, DAM is all about spreading the wealth and organizing all your digital assets in a cohesive way that makes sense for your company and content team. There are many tools out there to help you assess the level in which you need DAM and that help you determine its role in your digital experience ecosystem now and in the future. And avoiding folding in this vital element of your content strategy will delay your ability to mature through what Earley identifies as three levels of digital asset management strategy, using retail as an example:

  • The first stage of digital asset management strategy maturity is directed toward risk mitigation and compliance.
  • The second stage of digital asset management strategy maturity improves asset management at the product stock keeping unit (SKU) level and leverages technology to move toward a greater degree of publishing integration.
  • The third stage of digital asset management strategy maturity supports the effective use of analytics and information architecture to track customer behavior, to influence shopper buying and opinion, and to predict future preferences and trends.

This third level showcases how your organization can harness DAM to deliver personalized user experiences that people will find useful, relevant, and influential.

Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, and offers valuable and meaningful effects for your digital strategy. Getting your digital house in order with an organizational system will speed the workflow and reduce errors of duplicate or missing files. Additionally, your DAM offers an array of modern benefits, including supporting highly personalized, optimized, and dynamic experiences that your users will return for again and again.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company based and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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