What is digital asset management and how can it help you?

Digital asset management can play a vital role in your marketing organization, unifying online and offline marketing channels and leading to more efficient marketing resource allocation.

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Digital asset management (DAM) stores and organizes all of an organization’s digital assets — images, PDFs, photographs, audio, video and even virtual reality or other cutting-edge formats.

It is the “single source of truth,” where marketers can find every relevant version of media assets created for the brand. A DAM also allows the addition of metadata (topic, date, author and so on) that can provide information on anything the marketer might want to know before using it. Metadata can also include things like whether the company has perpetual rights to use a photograph, whether the legal team has approved a video, and if an infographic or whitepaper was checked for brand design standard compliance.

How do companies use DAM?

Marketing agencies might leverage DAM technology to maintain consistency across in-house content and creatives developed by partners. B2B businesses might draw on the benefits of a centralized hub for sales collateral and event marketing materials. B2C businesses might have countless text, image and video assets to incorporate on websites, in social media, in apps or in catalogs.

DAMs are being integrated with other technologies, especially content management systems and digital experience platforms, to unify marketing asset management and distribute digital content directly to the channels where they’re consumed.

Why are so many organizations using DAMs?

Consumer expectations

Nearly three quarters of customers expect companies to understand their unique wants and needs — up from two-thirds in 2020, according to the fifth edition of Salesforce’s The State of the Connected Customer. The benefits of this personalization are clear. Companies using more granular personalization experience significant gains in conversions, revenue per visitor and average order value, according to an Incisiv Adobe study.

The expanding number of channels and devices consumers are using

DAMs make it easier to create and repurpose marketing content according to the different needs of the medium and format. They also support the entire content lifecycle – from upstream creative to downstream delivery. They support work-in-progress for content, speeding asset workflows, reviews and approvals, as well as connecting with tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, Canva and Microsoft Office.

Dig deeper: How to protect and leverage your single source of truth

This guide is for marketers who are looking to enhance their campaigns with digital assessment management technologies. Here’s what’s inside:

Dig Deeper: 4 steps to faster DAM search: Creating a file naming convention

Capabilities of digital asset management platforms

Digital asset management platforms have everything from legacy features, like file management, to emerging capabilities due to the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Here is a detailed look.

Workflow management

DAM systems differ in the extent of their workflow management capabilities. Some allow collaboration through @ tagging, while others have more full-fledged project management offerings. This can help marketing teams, along with outside creative resources, communicate about changes while an asset is in development or being updated.

Later, they can allow for approvals to be obtained from brand managers, execs and the legal team, while some systems also facilitate asset distribution. These capabilities may be built into the core platform or offered as an add-on or integration. Most DAMs are SaaS and can be accessed from browsers, but some have developed native apps.

File formats and handling

One area of differentiation is the ability to manage a variety of file formats. Most support common popular video, image and audio formats. However, if your workflow requires the use of a specialized format you need to ensure any system you’re considering can handle it.

Asset conversion, editing and customization

Some platforms allow an asset uploaded in one format to be downloaded or distributed in another — with conversions happening on the fly. Also, some have lightweight editing capabilities within the platform. To be clear, connections with common image editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc.) are typically more useful.

Distribution and user permissions management

The content production supply chain can involve many departments, agencies, freelancers and more. The ability to provide flexible permissions, so the right people have access to the right assets –– and only the right assets –– is very valuable.

Within agencies, in particular, these capabilities can give clients/customers convenient self-service capabilities. It also lets large enterprises maintain a consistent brand message across geographies and verticals, while still letting marketers and salespeople can help themselves to the materials they need.

Search and metadata

One of the most important benefits of a DAM is the ability to find assets after they’ve been created and filed away. Most providers now use artificial intelligence, either proprietary or through a partnership, for image and video recognition and tagging. Vendors are also exploring ways to use AI and machine learning to find insights and automate content transformations based on usage patterns.


Digital rights and corporate governance management

Most marketers license content from individual creators or stock libraries. DAMs can keep track of the specific license terms governing each piece of content, ensuring they’re not used in the wrong market, an unapproved context or after license expiration.

Corporate brand guidelines, as well as timelines associated with particular marketing campaigns, can also typically be managed with DAM functionality.

Reports and analytics

Analytics capabilities allow marketers to trace the return on the investment made in the development of digital media. They can also determine which assets are used most often and in what ways, proividing insights for planning future content creation.

Data storage and security

The majority of DAM providers partner with Amazon Web Services or Google to host their software and their clients’ assets. This means following those companies’ policies for geographical distribution, backups and security protocols. However, some players offer clients a variety of options for data hosting. This is useful for enterprises working with strict data governance regulations.


Since a DAM is meant to be the central “single source of truth” repository for all of a brand’s assets, it must integrate well with the rest of your martech stack. Vendors differ greatly in terms of the number and types of integrations they offer. Some are beginning to specialize in serving a specific sector with unique integration needs, such as online retailers using product information management systems.

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Explore DAM solutions from vendors like Acquia, Widen, Cloudinary, MediaValet and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on digital asset management platforms.

Click here to download!

What are the benefits of using a digital asset management system?

Digital asset management systems can play a vital role in your marketing organization, unifying online and offline marketing channels and leading to more efficient marketing resource allocation.

The specific benefits of using a digital asset management platform include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Improved communication between in-house and freelance/contract workers.
  • Improved distribution of assets to clients, partners or other outsiders.
  • More efficient utilization of existing resources.
  • Increased efficiency in the workflow for internal approvals.
  • Speed the conversion of assets into different sizes, aspect ratios and file types.
  • More efficient creation and distribution of assets to martech and adtech systems.
  • Easier compliance with changing brand standards and licensing terms.
  • Ease of presenting a more consistent brand face to the customer.
  • Ability to quantify the usage of each individual digital asset, and therefore track ROI on the cost of creation and distribution.

About the author

Pamela Parker
Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media's Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She's a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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