Digital Asset Management (DAM): A Necessity in Your Digital World

What are digital assets? Digital assets are images, videos, PDFs, word documents, spreadsheets, and music files. They are any file that you would find on your computer.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a tool to help you identify, sort and search for these files. DAMs also manage the version control of the files, as well as size and format conversion. As an example, images can come in multiple formats and codecs like RAW, JPEG, PNG, and GIF. In Video, too, you’ll find Cinepak, MPEG-2, H.264, VP8, and more. Modern DAMs will allow you to store a file in one format, and extract it for use in another format. They can support hundreds of file formats, and usually have built-in editor and converters. Let’s say you shoot video in a high definition 4K format, which may be excellent for use on your internal projection system but would be horrendously slow to load or play on Facebook or YouTube. A DAM will allow you to quickly and easily extract that one video in whichever platform-specific format you need, regardless of how it’s saved.

Practical uses for a DAM come into play when you start to build out your web store, CMS and POS. Because you can assign digital assets such as images, PDFs and videos to products, it is important that you have a central location that manages these assets. Before DAM, your digital assets would be spread all over your network. The Art department may have a new version of the company logo, but the webmaster may not know that that iteration of the logo exists and retains an older version on his machine. Photography may have shot a new round of product images that are sitting on their hard drives, but again, the webmaster is loading products into the store with images he/she found on the NAS drive. Not only does this minimize the impact of good visual marketing, but it can result in significant time wasted by colleagues searching for the right image, but being unable to find it. DAM takes care of all of this. It manages version control, it allows you to edit images on the fly, and it allows you to create metadata for each file to make it easier to find.

With a DAM, when the webmaster goes looking for that logo, he/she need not scour the network. They simply go to the DAM, search for “Company Logo” for example, and instantly the newest version of the logo is displayed along with prior versions, the date the image was uploaded, and notes about what changed. The same goes for product videos and PDFs. Your webmaster can link directly from a page to the correct digital asset in the DAM. Let’s say you have a product detail page in your web store that has multiple product images, a product video, and a spec sheet in PDF format. Now let’s suppose there’s a new set of product images, a newer video, and an updated spec sheet. If the web developer has pointed the links in the web page to use the newest published version of each of these items, the website will automatically be updated with the latest version of each of the assets as soon as they are approved for publication in the DAM.

In some DAMs, you can also store time-of-use as part of the metadata. As an example let’s say you have a page that highlights things at your site for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Based on the time of day, you want the appropriate image and content displayed on the page. By setting the appropriate hours for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the DAM, the right content will automatically be served to the page.

DAMs help companies manage digital assets by making searching and version control easier, controlling the approval workflow from creation through publication, and allowing you to edit and convert assets to the appropriate format for the task at hand. Moreover, with most modern DAMs you can set an end-of-life event for an asset. If the new logo comes into effect January 1st, you may want to set the old logo to end-of-life, so it doesn’t accidentally get used in future campaigns, web page or printed materials.

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