While the digital world continues to evolve and change, one thing that won’t is the fact that people love visual stories. To connect with them, brands will need to continue creating digital assets. This is great news for photographers, videographers, designers, and other visual artists.
All of this visual content means content creators, from freelancers to agencies, need a way to organize and manage libraries of files. Digital assets like audio files, images, infographics, videos, and more have driven the need for end-to-end digital asset management (DAM) solutions.
The Evolution of DAM
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, digital assets for advertising, marketing, and branding would be created, then saved to an actual, physical disk. The disk would then be passed around the office from team to team, stakeholder to stakeholder, either by hand or by mail. DAM was effectively just file-sharing.
But as time passed and digital media grew more mature, with more assets and the rise of visual storytelling, this simple file structure wasn’t enough. Companies needed more information about their assets to better manage them: which derived versions were in use, who was sharing and accessing them, which resolution and file format they were delivered in, and, eventually, how well the assets were actually performing from a marketing perspective.
Today, modern DAM solutions should be fully end-to-end, encompassing the entire creation, storage, categorization, manipulation, optimization, approval, search and delivery of each asset.
It also ought to enable workflow efficiencies powered by robust A.I., saving time and effort over the manual processes, making valuable asset delivery possible at scale.
What’s more, it should make your media library searchable with autotagging, your assets automatically adjustable for resolution, file format, and delivery device, and it should be simple enough for all teams that need to use it.
DAM For the Modern Content Creators
At its core, DAM offers an effective solution to organize, store, search, share, and deploy digital files. It should provide an easy-to-use, centralized digital “library” for peers, employees, clients, contractors, and other key stakeholders to have controlled access to images, photos, video, audio, and more.
It should enable workflow efficiency, as well as streamline and track the approval process. It should make it easy to access and search archived and backup versions, and it should track usage and interaction.
Forget multiple external drives and a million iterations of the same file saved on your computer as “Version 1,” “Version 2,” and “Rev 3,” all the way to “Version 106.”
A modern DAM solution should allow for one central storage hub that can be accessed by all necessary stakeholders, whether they’re in your office or they work remotely (as more and more creative and marketing personnel do).
Cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox work extremely well for a centralized collaboration platform, allowing local and remote contributors to access the same files. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, cloud storage becomes less cost-effective the more data you store, it still can’t be beat for collaboration.
A modern DAM solution should also integrate with your existing workflows and systems, so your teams can keep working in the same applications they already know, love, and live in, to boost adoption. From content management systems (CMS) to product information management systems (PIM) and any other tools in between, your DAM should include robust APIs that make integration a snap if a predefined integration doesn’t already exist.
Your digital asset management solution should help, well… manage your assets. It should provide a single source of truth on the status of each and every asset, so everyone can find what is available and understand the current realities surrounding each campaign.
Using metadata, your DAM solution should organize your assets in a way that makes it easy to search, browse, and find exactly what you need. This includes A.I.-enabled auto-tagging, which should use powerful algorithms to automatically suggest tags for all your assets, providing consistent tagging categories across assets and saving your team massive amounts of time and effort.
Additionally, it should streamline your approval workflows, making review and approval of assets for version and quality control a snap, with live status reports on where each asset currently stands.
It should also give you the flexibility to easily manage rights and access control, so partners, vendors, and internal teams get only the access you want them to have, and none that you don’t.
Learning More About DAM
While this post is intended to give you things to think about, digital asset management is a deep subject that could fill an entire blog like this one from Extensis. There are also books about setting up a DAM system that works for you.
But looking to the future, with new and exciting visual engagement trends like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) on the rise – and those particular media being extraordinarily data-dense and in need of very specific formatting requirements – the need for streamlined, optimized digital asset management is only going to grow.