A Quick Primer For Selecting A Digital Asset Management Solution

Digital Asset Management (or DAM) isn’t new. DAM solutions have been in play for years at the larger corporate level, but it is becoming more and more prevalent in smaller businesses due to the sheer volume of files being created by today’s content producers. And, with that content explosion comes a new problem facing these organizations – how do we capture and reuse all of this great stuff we’re making?

Here are a few items to consider:

Not every DAM is the same

Some DAMs products provide industry specific solutions where as others focus on more generic universal capture and storage. It’s a good place to start by thinking about the particular best practices and norms in your particular industry.

Not every file is the same

It beginning your evaluation of the right DAM, start with the types of files that are most critical to your every day. For example, while you might need to store all kinds of files, certain playback or preview functionalities might be imperative, like reviewing large videos or images. This alone might limit certain DAM products and focus your choices. Even then, files like video have additional criteria that need to be considered like quality, resolution, performance, and compatibility. Some product support video, but might support high-quality ProRes playback.

How do you value your collection?

How do you place monetary value of your asset collection? Can you distill that to a value per asset? While there isn’t a magic calculator for determining this, it’s good to think about at least conceptually. One reason is that DAMs (good and bad) often come at a considerable upfront costs including the core software, setup, integrations, training, etc. Understanding how the size of your asset catalog and it’s potential growth will help you understand how one solution or the other will provide adequate scale and ultimately long-term sustainability.

Metadata requires flexibility

Flexibility is the key here, plain and simple. As I’ve already said, not every file is the same and how files are described is even more unique. Let’s look at two file types: Videos and Spreadsheets. While videos might require a meta-tag for director, spreadsheets would never. Moreover even within a single file type like video, it might need to be described with different tags and in different orders. Here is an example:

Video #1 = broadcast commercial
Director: John Doe
Agency: MyAgency
Editor: Jane Doe
Runtime: 0:30

Video #2 = digital billboard
Category: Out of Home:
Type: Digital signage
Placement: Outdoor
Agency: MyAgency

Two things of note: the first is that video #1 has a director, while video #2 does not and has it’s own specific tag needs. The second is that while both have “Agency”, it is less important based on it’s prioritized order. Sounds simple enough but not many DAMs solution require this kind of flexibility.

Where do you need reach?

Part of good DAM is not being left on a prison island. Thus, integrating with the greater media and workflow ecosystem is imperative. It’s one thing that capture and store, but make sure that you can push/pull assets from other places for easy research and reuse. In addition check to see whether the DAM solution has out-of-the-box connectivity to the applications most used in your most common workflows.

Who can do what?

While consolidation and accessibility are key, not everyone needs access to everything. In many cases some assets are more sensitive in nature, thus require strong security measures to be met and enforced.

Will your people use it?

While this might sound a bit odd, culture, as I have written, might be the most crucial part of selecting the right DAM. Many people looking to bring DAM into their organization don’t even realize they are using something already. Every company has a baked-in culture for organizing, searching, and trafficking, even if their version is an unmitigated free-for-all. Trust me when I say that preferences exist in your business, and if ignored, whatever you do is doomed before it gets off the ground.

By Taylor Tyng