Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital asset management comes of age

Anne Gretland, CEO of FotoWare

Not so long ago, managing a brand’s assets meant filing cabinets, colour-coded binders and a lot of hassle for anyone looking to use, access, or manage said assets. Sadly, too many marketers still rely on folder structures, email attachments, and searching for files in several cloud storage solutions to access, manage and organise digital assets.

Today, Digital Asset Management (DAM) is being used by marketers to index, store and retrieve digital assets. With a DAM system in place, every part of the process becomes simplified, freeing time and resources that can be used elsewhere.

Organising digital assets is still a major challenge

The ability to organise and manage digital assets is the biggest challenge identified in a recent FotoWare survey by 55% of respondents. With many teams managing thousands of assets, there is a need for a system to process and provide fast access, especially as the amount of assets increases.

DAM has made it easier to organise and find digital assets via metadata, where users can assign certain attributes to images. However, marketers want to speed up the creation of metadata, as writing captions and keywords for all images easily, simplifies asset selection. Many assets have small variations so good metadata is essential in finding the right version.

However, metadata governance presents another major challenge. Without strong metadata governance, many assets are hard to find and in danger of remaining unused, while others are published multiple times.

Of course, manually adding such metadata to thousands of individual items is an incredibly time-consuming process. This is precisely where advanced algorithms, made possible by AI, come into play.

With those algorithms, any image imported into a DAM platform can be automatically scanned and identified so that the correct metadata can be attributed to it. This saves countless hours of manual searching and tagging, even though some individual images may need a human touch, especially for more subjective filtering.

Metadata automations are increasingly important since they determine how employees attribute approved images or video from say a day’s shooting. This information is stored as metadata, so marketing managers get a notification with a collection of only the approved images. The metadata travels with the file so information is never lost.

Integration with other platforms is crucial

While migrating to a DAM platform from a legacy system can sometimes be overwhelming due to insufficient resources, additional training required, poor existing catalogues, or many other reasons, using DAM is easy once everything has been properly set up.

This is especially evident within the various integrations offered by DAM platforms. If, for example, you are used to working with Adobe’s CC suite, suitable plugins are available that will make collaboration a breeze.

Indeed, moving assets across different teams, approving images or videos to be used in a variety of promotional efforts, or confirming the purchase of copyrighted material to third-parties can become as simple as clicking on a single button instead of having to communicate via slower, asynchronous platforms such as email.

Security is of the utmost importance

Security is an important aspect when dealing with digital assets. With many organisations changing their way of working since COVID-19, secure remote user management is a focal point of interest.

Remote users must be both aware of security considerations, and also actively apply various measures, including mirrored backups, encryption access management, network segmentation, two-factor authentication and VPN management, as strategies to ensure digital assets collected are not compromised.

In addition, marketers are now more concerned than ever with government regulations such as GDPR. Assets need correct user rights’ information to protect organisations and enable follow up of asset theft, on social media for instance. Image rights can be managed through a variety of methods, e.g. credits and expiry dates, GDPR information, transfer of IPTC copyrights into metadata fields, and documentation of purchased rights, to avoid prosecution.

The importance of DAM for marketing is now obvious

DAM platforms manage vast collections of digital assets that underpin marketing efforts. Respondents of FotoWare’s recent research cite that using DAM solutions simplifies sharing content, speeds up marketing campaigns and improves ROI.

The rapid adoption of advanced technologies such as AI and ML will only serve to make DAM even more important and useful in the near future.

With thousands of individual assets to manage, dozens of teams that need to collaborate with each other, and an increasingly remote workforce, marketers need access to intelligent, secure and flexible DAM platforms in order to work efficiently.