Digital Asset Management (DAM) platforms have come a long way. The new generation of DAMs will support and strengthen your marketing activities and drive business value. Is a modern DAM at the centre of your marketing technology stack?
I first started working with Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems in 1989. We were implementing solutions for pre-press companies, storing the earliest digital drum scans used for advertising. A lot has changed since then.
Before I get into the detail of why DAM is just so (well... damn) important in Martech stacks now, let me really briefly run you through the basics. Trust me, this is short, and it won’t hurt a bit…
What are Digital Assets?
A Digital Asset is something represented in a digital form that has intrinsic value or has an acquired value. If it takes time to create it, costs money to use it, or costs money to re-create it, then it is a digital asset.
What is DAM?
Digital Asset Management is the practice of managing our assets, so that we get the best ROI, through use, re-use, re-selling, re-purposing. DAM is both a discipline and a technology. The tech underpins the implementation of the discipline. The implementation of a DAM solution can vary in complexity and technique, dependant on the use cases needing to be achieved. E.g., Using DAM for Archive only is generally simple. Workflows, Approvals and DRM will increase the complexity of implementation. The key factor for DAM is that the asset has some value throughout its lifetime and that someone wants to use or reuse the asset
The Evolution of DAMs
DAMs have evolved from being a ‘basic library’ solution about three decades ago to a ‘creative library’ solution about two decades ago. It gradually became an essential component of an organisation’s marketing technology stack. More recently, DAMs have evolved to become a very robust and modern storage solution. For organisations that understand how precisely to leverage DAMs, they are beginning to use DAMs as a hub for digital transformation.
We reside in the digital marketing era. The power balance is well and truly in the customer’s favour. The customer is more demanding than ever. The market is more globalised than it ever was. The competition also has never been more fierce. Disruptions come towards organisations from direct competitors and from the outfield in the form of non-traditional competitors.
The competitive landscape is no longer about the obvious known rivals. It is about the ones we don’t. And often these rivals don’t even come from the industry. Example – Apple became a top player in the watch space even though it came from the computing industry.
Loyalty becomes a necessity in a crowded and competitive marketplace. So how do you keep customers loyal? Through personalisation and more recently through hyper-personalisation. Organisations must offer a highly personalised experience through the entire customer lifecycle; beginning at awareness and right through to advocacy. Note that this hyper-personalised experience must be delivered across multiple channels, in a variety of formats across a plethora of devices.
With the proliferation of channels, devices and touchpoints, and various formats of data, organisations must have a premeditated and deliberate approach to the management of their marketing assets.
Organisations must reach the right audience, at the right time with the right message. This requires the people in an organisation to have access the right assets at the right time.
Marketing teams must measure and report on their performance. How do you know how effective a campaign has been? Or whether a specific video, image or piece of content has connected with your intended audience?
Now throw in a need to collaborate with more people across different time zones and languages, and approval processes involving internal and external stakeholders, and you have a complicated, dynamic environment.
Why is Digital Asset Management Important?
Businesses find value in having a programmatic approach to finding, sharing and leveraging digital content. Online services such as Flickr, Pinterest or Shutterstock, or storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Box make it easier for businesses to store and manage their digital files.
For businesses, enterprise, mid-tiered or small, the way in which DAM is leveraged comes down to practical business benefits and considerations. I have sketched out below for you a few of these considerations:
Productivity: We all know the importance of finding ‘that’ file at the right time. We also know the crisis that the wrong version of the file creates. Search for the right file and the right version can become an organisational challenge. It leads to lowered productivity. DAM becomes important to assuage this challenge.
Process efficiency: Digital assets are not isolated. They must not reside in silos. They are an integral part of a business’ workflows. DAMs allow business professionals to locate the assets they need and help ensure that the right assets are used in the right places at the right time in a more streamlined manner.
Storage efficiency: As centralised repositories, DAMs provide cost-efficient and space-efficient storage. For instance, storage costs can be reduced by leveraging data reduction technology. This enables storing more data in the same amount of physical storage capacity. This approach can help extend the life of existing assets and reduces the need to purchase more storage.
Access and Permissions: By applying access rules, DAMs can serve to become guardians of digital assets. This capability is vital to protect the fundamental value of branded and trademarked assets.
Regulatory Compliance: Licenses, legal documentation and archives can play a key role in meeting industry-driven or regulatory compliance requirements. The ability to rapidly organise and rapidly retrieve these materials can save organisations time and effort, as well as mitigate the disruption of core business processes.
Culture: Good leaders ensure that the teams they lead enjoy working together. They strive to achieve a true synergy of ideas and working behaviours. These cultural improvements are not soft and fluffy measures. They can contribute to the financial benefits of an organisation. Greater consistency leads to less conflict. Greater reliability on process leads to more harmonious interactions. The harmonious interactions lead to happier, more loyal staff, and less turnover.
A Hub for Digital Transformation: So I have taken you through a quick summary of DAMs, from three decades ago to where we are now.
Today, DAMs are used as cross-functional tools within organisations. They are now beyond being a creative library or a media solution or a mere storage solution. DAMs are now playing a pivotal role in Digital Transformation initiatives.
DAMs are now working towards enabling different functional units with assets. They are also encouraging these functional units to work in cohesion with each other.
DAMs are now helping connect internal and external platforms. This is helping break down operational siloes, and helping organisations create a ‘consolidated ecosystem’ that can provide customers with a seamless and consistent experience across all channels.
DAMs are now being used to connect an organisation’s assets and content to every touchpoint. From contact centres to sales to support service, companies can strengthen their brand identity and transform into a digital workforce.
As you can see, emerging in the 1990s as simple digital libraries to manage growing quantities of this new thing called “digital assets”, DAMs were a welcome alternative to boxes of floppy discs and chaotic file shares. Unfortunately, over time, these repositories became silos, cut off from the rest of the business and accessible only by certain staff.
The rise of online publishing platforms in the 2000s and the emergence of massive disparate audiences meant that not only did content need to be more readily and easily available, it meant DAMs needed to be integrated with a range of other applications like CRMs, CMSs and PIMs. And so integrative, cloud-based DAM applications evolved.
How DAM platforms can help
DAMs are coming into their own as “anchor” platforms in organisations’ marketing technology (martech) stacks. All digital marketing is built on assets – whether it’s something as simple as a single image posted on Instagram or a tailored email, automatically generated from a range of content types – and a DAM, as an organisation’s single source of truth, ought to be where those assets are housed.
Modern DAM technologies no longer just provide a platform to store, share and manipulate marketing assets, they also give organisations the ability to deliver the right assets to the appropriate channel, at the optimal time and in a compliant way. Your DAM can also be used to not just house video and images but contracts, sales presentations and other business documents.
And placing your DAM at the heart of the digital asset supply chain also means you can data match more easily, using asset metadata, customer information in your CRM, and product data in your PIM to ensure marketing assets are up-to-date, targeted correctly and available and consistent across all channels.
DAMs are no longer standalone applications – they’re sophisticated, connectable platforms that can underpin your organisation’s entire marketing and brand activity. In addition to saving your organisation time and money via process improvement and efficiency gains, DAMs also unify marketing teams and omni-channels, track metrics, and provide a foundation for a holistic customer experience, driving sales growth.
It’s possible that your organisation doesn’t require the level of functionality that modern DAMs provide, in which case a simple asset library may suffice. But with the era of machine learning and AI upon us, where image recognition and metadata will likely play an increasingly important role in shaping and delivering our online experiences, having a DAM strategy will almost certainly become business-critical sooner than you think.
At Creative Folks, we are specialists in Digital Asset Management. DAMs have been around since the early 90'. We have been implementing solutions since the inception of DAMs. We are recognised by leading vendors, and we are certified as a Sitecore Partner, Elvis Platinum Partner, Adobe Business Partner and Canto Systems Integrator.
If you would like to understand how DAMs can add value to your business, reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I write about DAM and other relevant and related topics on LinkedIn, please connect with me https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewlomas
There are ideas, and then there is the practical reality for your specific business. If you want to know how to turn ideas into a reality, reach out to me. Let’s get DAM working for you. Is a Modern DAM Platform at the Core of Your Marketing Technology Stack?