Digital Asset Management: Definition and Basics digital asset management definition and basics

Every company has countless digital assets at its disposal – in theory. Because it is often not so easy to find the right file for the respective project. The problem is that many digital assets are not stored centrally. Lengthy searches are inevitable. And that’s not all: Managing the media is also more difficult and involves risks. Managing digital assets is made easier with a digital asset management (DAM) system. This article provides you with an overview of DAM – from the definition of digital asset management to reasons for a DAM system.

Digital Asset Management Definition

What does Digital Asset Management (DAM) actually mean? In a nutshell, the Digital Asset Management definition is this: DAM refers to processes related to the management of digital assets. Digital asset management runs along the entire lifecycle of the assets: creation, storage, distribution, deletion or archiving of the media content are all mapped via the DAM system in the company.

What is a digital asset?

As mentioned, basically every company has digital assets that it draws on. Digital assets are ultimately understood to be various digital content and media files. This includes very different data formats and media, such as:

  • Images
  • Video and audio files
  • Graphics
  • Presentations
  • Office documents
  • PDF files
  • Text files
  • HTML files
  • Layouts and layout templates (e.g. in corporate design)
  • and much more.

In themselves, however, these individual contents are not yet digital assets! They only become digital assets when the files are described and enriched using metadata. In the end, this is how companies obtain rich media. Metadata makes it possible to precisely specify the type of encoding, the ownership, usage and access rights, and the actual content of the digital assets. The advantage is that this information makes it easier to search for and manage media files.

Differentiation between DAM, MAM and PIM – where the differences lie

Some companies may not yet have digital asset management systems in place, but they do have other systems that help organize the flood of files. In addition to DAM systems, there are also Media Asset Management (MAM) systems and Product Information Management (PIM) systems. The three different systems for managing data and files differ primarily in one respect: the file types they can manage.

MAM and PIM are much more specialized than DAM. This is already clear from the names of the systems. In the case of media asset management systems, the respective solutions focus exclusively on media files such as images, graphics, videos and audio files – in other words, classic media content. A PIM system exclusively organizes data and files related to product information. These can be product descriptions as text files, PDFs of instructions, images and videos of products, and data from the ERP system. The important thing with PIM is the strict product reference.

A DAM system is thus much broader than MAM and PIM, because it handles the management of all digital assets. Regardless of whether it is product information, media content or other digital formats.

Types of digital asset management

However, DAM not only differentiates itself from MAM and PIM, but also takes on different forms itself. Depending on the focus of digital asset management, one also likes to speak of:

  • Brand Asset Management – here the focus is on marketing content such as logos, corporate design elements, etc.
  • Library Asset Management – here DAM focuses on the storage and retrieval of rarely changing media assets such as the archiving of photos
  • Production Asset Management – here the focus is on the management of assets needed for the production of digital media content (e.g. video games)
  • Cloud-based DAM systems – this does not focus on any particular type of digital asset. Rather, they are DAM solutions that run via cloud, allowing mobile access from any device

How digital asset management works with software solutions

Digital Asset Management Software – compares!

digital asset management definition eCover Marktüberblick DAM

Is digital asset management already on your company’s agenda? And are you looking for the right software solution? In our digital asset management comparison, we have compared 17 DAM providers. You can download the summary of the market overview here.

Digital asset management initially describes only the central management process of digital assets. In order for this to be mapped, suitable DAM software is needed to set up the system. But what does a digital asset management solution “do” once it has been implemented? Here we take a close look at the technology and functions of DAM software.

Search technologies and interfaces

A key advantage of DAM systems is that digital assets are easier to find. An important component is therefore the appropriate search technology. It should enable keywording, but also offer options for specifying format data, licenses or combinations of different attributes and metadata. The more search options the DAM solution offers, the easier it will be later to find and use digital assets. This also includes support for version control and direct distribution of digital content from within the DAM system. And that means the DAM system needs not only extensive search capabilities, but also interfaces to other systems in the enterprise.

Interfaces are central to enabling DAM software to serve as a hub for digital asset management. This is because assets are first stored as usual in various other systems, tools and folder structures. The DAM software needs access to these systems and tools – such as the content management system – to consolidate the assets they contain and keep them up-to-date and accessible in one environment. At the same time, the interfaces, especially to the CMS, are there to play out digital content from the DAM system easily and without media breaks. Marketing, for example, can take advantage of synergy effects and not only simplify content playout, but ideally even automate it.

Tasks of DAM solutions – an overview of functions

The DAM system is the data center for digital assets. Therefore, the software takes on various tasks and needs corresponding functions. Here is an overview of the most important tasks and features it should cover:

  • Import and export of digital assets
  • Conversion of file formats, if necessary
  • Enrichment of metadata
  • Searching digital content by metadata, file name or other properties
  • Previewing files
  • Archiving and versioning content
  • Providing a brand portal for cross-team collaboration
  • Managing licenses and access rights, such as for images

Why is Digital Asset Management important?

The core tasks of the DAM system already indicate why digital asset management is so important for companies today – both for medium-sized companies and large corporations. As mentioned, numerous digital assets are lying around in companies. Searching for them is often very time-consuming and managing the content is even more time-consuming. As a result, timeliness, consistency in branding, and access rights are difficult to maintain. As the DAM system becomes the data hub for digital assets, companies simplify the complete management of digital content. This brings several benefits at once:

  1. Time and resource savings: first and foremost, of course, a DAM system saves time and resources. Finding the content you need (e.g., a video in content marketing) takes less effort. Marketing teams thus have more time to devote to more complex tasks.
  2. Seamless collaboration of teams: Speaking of teams – we have already briefly alluded to it: Collaboration within the company is also visibly easier thanks to central data storage in the DAM system. All the files you need can be found in the DAM system. And all teams that need to use this content have access to it. At the same time, different teams (e.g., marketing and sales) can more easily share files with each other, always keeping them up to date.
  3. Protecting licenses and ensuring access rights: In terms of access to content in the DAM system, there is another elementary advantage to the classic folder structure: access rights and licenses can be managed more easily. This secures the use of digital content and protects companies from misuse and sometimes unintentional, expensive license violations. In our article, you will learn how to professionally manage photos and videos with DAM solutions. We’ve also summarized how to properly manage usage rights with DAM software.
  4. Consistent brand presence: A consistent brand presence is elementary in order to be clearly anchored in the memory of customers. However, the more channels a company covers with content, the more difficult this task becomes. A DAM system supports brand consistency by providing uniform content for all channels in one environment.
  5. Simplified content production and distribution: DAM solutions enable companies not only to manage content, but even to produce it directly if required. This applies to advertising materials, for example. In this article, you will learn how you can create advertising materials with DAM software at the push of a button.

All around the selection of a suitable DAM solution

digital asset management definition Whitepaper DAM eCover marketingandtech.comWe provide you with a selection criteria guide to find the right DAM software for your business. Download our free DAM whitepaper including selection guide here.

Deployment scenarios of DAM software

Deployment scenarios of DAM softwareDAM solutions can basically be usefully deployed in almost all companies that work with digital assets. Every company that wants to optimize the workflows for digital assets should think about DAM software. Are you one of those companies that have already integrated a PIM system? Even then, using DAM software can be worthwhile – especially in combination with AI tools. How exactly the interaction of PIM, DAM and AI can look like, you can read in our whitepaper “Using AI successfully in PIM and DAM systems”.

Conclusion: Digital Asset Management for Modern Data Management

Digital asset management should ideally become the standard in companies. Especially in view of the ever-increasing digitization and the increasingly large volume of data and files. After all, keeping track of all digital content will be even more important in the future to ensure an excellent customer experience. After all, brand consistency and up-to-date content are part of this. And last but not least, a DAM system helps companies free up time and human resources for more complex tasks.

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