digital asset management (DAM)

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.

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What is a digital asset? 

The asset being managed is stored in a digital format and is detailed by its metadata. The metadata can describe the asset content, the means of encoding, ownership, and rights of access.

Types of digital asset management

There are several broad categories of digital asset management. Brand asset management systems have content that is mostly marketing-related, such as logos. Library asset management systems focus on storage and retrieval of infrequently changing media assets, such as photo archiving. Production asset management systems manage assets as they are being created for digital media production, such as video games.  There is also cloud-based digital asset management system, which allows users to access assets from any device, including mobile.

DAM software

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.

Benefits of DAM software

Some benefits of DAM software are that it allows access to digital media anytime, anywhere. It also includes fast implementation, easy integration, and is intuitive.

Use cases

Anyone who needs to optimize digital asset workflows needs a digital asset management system. Marketers can grow their brands and increase brand consistency with a DAM system. Designers can use DAM to optimize their workflows by being able to quickly search for files and repurpose assets. Sales teams can have up-to-date materials and resources anytime and anywhere. Agencies can use DAM to keep all of their creative files organized, enabling for faster turnaround times. And distributors can optimize their delivery process.

This was last updated in January 2017

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How does digital asset management improve your workflow?
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.
Great post Margaret! It highlights the basics of digital asset management really well.

I work at MediaValet, a cloud-based DAM solution and we've found that DAM has enabled our customers to effectively manage their content creation workflows, as well. What are your thoughts on using DAM for the entire asset lifecycle?