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The Time Has Come To Build A DAM (Digital Asset Manager)

January 23, 2018 Rick Reid


A digital asset manager (DAM) isn’t a mundane summertime title for the boss’ nephew. Prepare your mind to be expanded in ways that only a Pink Floyd record and a bean bag chair can. Get comfortable, take a deep breath, and leave it to the beaver to work smarter for you.

Call me jaded, but working for a marketing agency with access to the latest enterprise tools and workflow techniques keeps me plugged-in and excited. I think we all know what it’s like to work for a company whose fatal mantra is, “that’s the way it’s always been done.” With so many advances in technology and marketing methodologies, it’s impossible to imagine a business not taking logical steps to improve. Chances are, one or more of these company’s competitors are already wringing greater returns by harnessing technology and clobbering today’s hesitant status quo.


Building A DAM

So let’s get to the meat of this DAM thing, shall we? It’s all about time, which is what we all want more of, right? For starters, if you’re in a creative role, you’re going to love the benefits of a DAM. If you're a sales or marketing team member constantly struggling with version control, especially remote, you'll likely give a DAM. Likewise, if your office is located in the C-Suites, you’ll appreciate what a DAM can do for your return on energy. In brief, if you spend an unnecessary amount of time locating digital assets of any kind, having a DAM is pure sorcery at your fingertips.

First, what is a Digital Asset Management system? Google defines a DAM as: "A business process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions. Assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts and other multimedia content."


As a basic illustration of how a DAM saves time for your content marketing team, consider this process: You will want to tag your assets with as much descriptive language as possible so these files will be found quickly. There are hundreds of ways you can categorize a shirt (casual or dress; long-sleeve or short; cotton, silk, polyester; solid or pattern; etc.) A smart list of terminology will take a bit of effort, but this cursory endeavor at the beginning of the process will make your DAM significantly more intuitive no matter the way different team members classify files and semantic as you add more content over time.


Based On A True Story

Imagine if you will; your manager asks you to pull all the approved images of apartment interiors for a particular client, who happens to arrange and manage temporary housing for businesses. There are thousands of photos that fit this description. Additionally, your manager asks to narrow these photos down to furnished common areas that are ideal for families and utilize neutral colors… that are located in the mid western U.S. Also, these photos need to be of units that have been recently upgraded with wood vinyl tile flooring. And in a particular file type. Another scenario, you're working on an important RFP, and need to reference a sales sheet for a specific product, as well as your latest logo, and a relevant healthcare case study by product offering. Where do you go and how do you pull the right files?


Can you pull these files in 20 seconds or less? Or would you have to refer to an Excel spreadsheet (since using Excel is the way it’s always been done) or that summarizes files into generalized columns? Chances are too, these columns don’t conform to all of the details of your manager’s request. Or do you go to a colleagues  computer? Or dig in a messy shared drive? Or open tons of files with poor naming conventions? Remember, If you’re trying to be trendy, this idea is so 1980’s. While the 80’s might be a cool throwback to music and fashion, trying to run a business using antique technology is a dangerous time killer.  

Surf’s Up, Dude

In scenario one, you’ve taken your manager’s request, waxed it down and leashed it to your ankle. Off you go surfing the line-up of folders on the server to find the photos. You search using relevant keywords and get closed-out. You drop in and stall, realizing the majority of all the images you are locating have the name, “IMG_####.JPG.” Okay, just bail. You may as well go to Shutterstock and download a reasonable prototype image. It will take a fraction of your time.

Hey, wait. Shutterstock?


Why is it so easy to find images on Shutterstock by using keywords? Huzzah! Shutterstock is really a digital asset manager. Imagine having the capability of entering tags as search criteria for not only images but all file types — for all your clients or your internal stakeholders — immediately accessed through the power of the DAM and keyword tags. If you’re a digital designer like myself, high five... ’cause… productivity! What’s more is; a DAM leverages rich metadata technology, enhancing the capabilities of media-managers to change the way digital content is stored, tagged, recalled, repurposed, and monetized.


DAM Intelligent Idea

Managing your business’ assets, from documents and images to audio and videos, through a central portal from anywhere in the world, is raw power. DAM solutions such as Bynder, AssetSERV, and Extensis Portfolio are just a few SaaS options that are transforming the way marketers reduce manual workloads while championing branding for themselves — and their clients. Furthermore, using a DAM system can assist your content teams in crafting and completing tasks quicker by finding the perfect assets to use (and even reuse) especially if they’re approved resources.


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