digital asset management

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Web content management systems roundup
Contributor(s): Jonathan Gourlay

Digital asset management (DAM) is a business process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions. Rich media assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts and other multimedia content.

DAM involves the creation of an archive, the development of an infrastructure to preserve and manage digital assets and a search functionality that allows end users to identify, locate and retrieve an asset. At its simplest, a DAM is a set of database records. Each database record contains metadata explaining the name of the file, its format and information about its content and usage. Digital asset management software can be used to create and manage the database and help the company to store rich media in a cost-effective manner.

While digital media management software tools were once used exclusively by publishing and media companies, they are increasingly being incorporated into content management systems and are of particular interest to retail sales companies that have customer-facing websites. DAM is generally considered to be a subset of enterprise content management (ECM), a business process for organizing text documents, email and spreadsheets.

This was last updated in May 2014

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Great definition Margaret, although I would add that Digital Asset Management systems are invaluable for storing simple documents as well, not just rich media. Any files that have value to an organisation really. I think it is also important to recognise the benefit DAMs offer to companies in the ability to more easily share their assets. I work for Asset Bank and many of our clients cite this ability as the key benefit of a DAM, especially when they have staff and partners across the world who can now help themselves.


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