FAQ: What is a DAM?

1. What does DAM stand for? 

DAM stands for Digital Asset Management. A DAM platform allows users to manage the lifecycle of a digital asset from creative development and classification to rights usage and finally distribution. Digital assets include any digital file such as documents, images, audio files, logos, videos, illustrations, InDesign, html files and even icons.  

A DAM platform is not just about digital asset storage but, rather, the management and access of files over time. 


2. What are the main functions a DAM should be able to do?

Your DAM platform of choice should be capable of ingesting, securing, storing, enriching and publishing your digital assets. It should aid your organization with offering workflow and, of course, it should allow users to quickly search – and quickly find – any asset they may require.

What does this mean? 

  • Ingesting: Your DAM platform should be capable of inputting digital assets of all types, not just documents or .jpegs, but myriad file types, everything from audio, video, InDesign and.html files to PowerPoint Presentations, and certainly those file types that are relevant to your day-to-day business.
  • Securing: Obviously your DAM platform should be secure when it comes to overall access, however, it should also be capable of adding access controls as to which individuals or groups can access which files.
  • Storage: Your DAM platform will, of course, store your digital assets in various file formats, but it must also be able to store associated metadata. More importantly, you should be able to edit that metadata and customize it as your business requires. 
  • Enriching your assets – and your DAM experience: A truly worthy DAM platform will be capable of enriching and transforming assets that it ingests. This extends to more than just the ability to create thumbnails or proxy files. Your DAM platform should be able to add value to any asset it stores. This could be through functionality that allows the addition of metadata or the ability to download files in different sizes and formats. Whatever the function, all these modifications and improvements to files should be trackable and stored with the individual file and each of its versions. To improve your DAM experience, especially when working remotely or via a mobile device, your DAM should offer the ability to preview files without having to download the full file. 
  • Workflow: The beauty of a well-built DAM is that it will allow users to collaborate (regardless of their location) and distribute assets within a pre-determined and officially sanctioned workflow. This functionality helps organizations collaborate when creating assets, ensures assets are approved prior to going into the DAM, and before downloading certain images, an approval process can be triggered.
  • Search: One of the key features your DAM should possess is the ability to find required assets, but search functionality should go well beyond a mere search for the title of a file. Your DAM platform should be able to find assets based on other factors such as file metadata and metadata you add to a file as it relates to your business. More information on metadata taxonomies is available on IntelligenceBank Marketing’s Blog.
  • Distribution and publishing: The DAM you are considering should aid users in sharing and publishing assets quickly and easily. Be it the simple ability to embed assets into another website, instantly publish to social media outlets or to share collections of assets with third parties – great Digital Asset Management Platforms should make publishing and sharing easy.

3. It sounds simple enough. Why do I need a DAM ‘platform’? Why can’t I just use Dropbox or Google Drive?

If you want your shared drive online – a file sync and sharing system such as Dropbox or Google Drive is suitable. However, if you are serious about managing your marketing content – and you want to manage your assets instead of simply sharing them – then a DAM is for you.

DAM platforms take your ability to store and share digital assets to a whole other level by adding various layers of organization and protection to your files. 

For example, a DAM system not only allows you to store and share your files, it also allows the added functionality of being able to track versions of files; monitoring usage rights on those files; automatically extract and input metadata, add annotations and can even provide workflow options that allow you to create processes around the use of various files within an organization.

At the end of these processes, your DAM will aid you in sharing and/or publishing these assets without requiring large files to be emailed around or uploaded via FTP.

Free cloud storage solutions (or even their paid-for pro upgrades) simply don’t do that.  

4. OK, so I get that a DAM platform is more appropriate for marketing departments, but how will it benefit me and my business?

To put it simply, a DAM platform makes your digital life easy. It removes the headaches we all suffer from having to track too many files across multiple media channels, usage parameters, and end users.

Given how expensive digital assets are to produce, organizations need to get the most out of them but if you can’t find them when you need them, what’s the point?

DAM solutions are about managing your media – anytime and from anywhere.

You’ll be able to find any file you need quickly and easily, and you’ll also be able to control who can access and use those files, all the while knowing exactly how specific files can be used if, indeed, they can be.

DAM platforms make monitoring the usage of your digital assets a synch because they do all the tracking and monitoring for you. You can see which people in your company are using specific assets, and equally importantly, you can instantly see if creative is being overused.

By having your digital assets properly categorized and centralized in on place, creative teams no longer have to spend hours creating – and recreating – assets for all your media channels.  With a DAM, previous versions are readily available, and you can also download files in different sizes and formats on the fly – which ultimately, saves everyone time – and your business money. 

DAM platforms such as IntelligenceBank are pro-active and will even send you emails when such crucial dates are approaching so, even if you don’t check your DAM calendar, the system will alert you. 

Similarly, you won’t find yourself re-purchasing assets you already own – just because you can’t find them when they’re needed! 

If all that doesn’t convince you, why not calculate the potential savings yourself with our DAM ROI calculator

5. So, who can use a DAM platform?

Anyone who needs to store, organize, share and retrieve digital assets, really. 

DAM platforms are suited for use by businesses of all sizes. While many DAM platforms only cater to large organizations with big budgets, there are several companies, including IntelligenceBank, who also offer pricing for organizations with only 1-5 users.  

In a corporate environment with multiple internal and external stakeholders, DAM platforms usually have extensive permission settings, so end users can easily access files that only matter to their part of the business. 

Typical types of users of a DAM include the following roles:

  • Administrators: Admins set up permission groups add users and determine general settings such as security parameters. This allows users to email file links to non-registered users, enabling the capability to share files on social media and embed on third-party websites, set up workflows, create a universal taxonomy and metadata settings, and to control the branding.
  • Publishers: Publishers are able to add folders and content to the system, add new versions and approve which content gets added if a publish workflow is enabled.
  • Internal Users: Internal users are able to preview files online and download files in different formats and sizes. 
  • External/Ad-Hoc users: These users can receive links to files, or can self-register to see a limited view of your asset library. As an added safety measure, you can require these users request permission before downloading specific asset.

6. DAM platforms sound pretty flexible, but are they only for marketing departments? 

DAM Platforms may be the tools of marketing departments in organizations across the globe, but they are capable of delivering the same benefits and efficiencies to any department or organization in any industry that handles digital assets en mass and, let’s face it, that’s just about any industry in the world right now.

After all, though DAM platforms such as IntelligenceBank allow marketing departments to custom brand their DAM setups and share with users within an organization in-depth brand guidelines, they could also just as easily help an architectural firm keep track of versions of its designs for multiple projects, or a FMCG company keep track of product packaging information

What about your sales department or distributors? 

Both need to be on top of your brand guidelines and brand assets / sales will, likely, need 24/7 access to core sales materials and current presentations, while distributors across the country or globe will require unfettered access to the latest approved assets and ONLY the latest approved assets. 

DAMs give all areas of a business in any industry this functionality, not just your marketing department.

7. What should I think about before I select a DAM partner? 

  • Is it user friendly? 

Each DAM platform sits along a spectrum. They can either be very technical and production oriented (i.e. designers and producers love them but the rest of the company struggles because they are too complex) – or they are operationally friendly (i.e. they lack some of the advanced bells and whistles – but everyone in your company can use it).  Before you shortlist any vendors you need to ask them where on this spectrum they sit.

  • Where are the files hosted? 

Some DAM’s offer self-hosted platforms, others are cloud based.  If you opt for a cloud solution, finding out where the data is stored – and ensuring there is local access - is very important, especially when you are managing large files and video.  

  • Customer service?

The actual software is just the start of your DAM journey. You need to work with a vendor who can help you with implementation, data migration, taxonomy structure and change management – and with one for whom customer service is important.  

By working with a DAM vendor who is experienced in these areas your implementation risk decreases dramatically.  The last thing you want is an IT project that never gets off the ground and, with the right support services, your launch will be successful and you will be able to demonstrate an instant ROI.

  • Can it help me with my processes?

A DAM is not a shared drive online but rather a system that will save you time and money by automating your creative processes, collaboration during production, categorization, distribution and talent and usage rights.  Ensure your DAM offers robust workflow options, 

  • Can it interact with my other systems?

A DAM should not be an island. Instead, it should be the very heart of your content marketing engine. Your DAM should offer robust APIs, which will allow it to interact with other systems such as a CMS. It should also offer connectors to your social media channels.

8. Should I host my DAM on-premise or should it sit up ‘on the cloud?’

While on-premise DAM solutions mean you have total control of your DAM software, the fact is, it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity and cost. 

An on-premise solution means you must host the software and maintain it, which means extra hardware, IT and personnel costs. So, ask yourself if you want or even need that control. 

If you have less than 5TB of data, a cleaner and more practical solution is to simply opt for a cloud-based DAM platform, which means the DAM vendor takes responsibility for the software, including version upgrades and new features. All you need to do is log in.

The costs are lower since you do not need to worry about installation, maintenance and administration or the extra IT and labor costs associated with these functions.

A cloud-based solution means that anyone can access your DAM from anywhere else, including people such as contractors who you may not want accessing your servers. 

With a cloud-based solution, all a person needs to access the assets you want them to access is a login and a web browser! It won’t matter where in the world they are.

If, however, you are managing more than 5TB of data, there is a diminishing cost benefit return and hosting your DAM internally may be a more cost-effective option.

If you have any questions on how a Digital Asset Management platform works, please contact us on support@intelligencebank.com

For more information on how DAMs works, please visit IntelligenceBank Marketing’s Resources for a guide to metadata, a vendor comparison grid, and last but certainly not least, an ROI calculator which will instantly show you how much time and money you will save by using a DAM. 


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