DAM Straight: Centralizing Digital Assets

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dam_smallADOTAS – You may remember in the early days of “Saturday Night Live,” the comedy classic spoofed a real commercial showing two cast members arguing over whether the canned product they were holding was a floor wax or a dessert topping. After about 10 seconds of animosity, a chuckling Chevy Chase stepped in as the announcer and said, “Hey you two, it’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping.”

A combination floor wax and dessert topping may not be very appealing to those who need more shine on their floors or a little something extra on their pie. But digital asset management (DAM) is becoming an acquired taste for organizations both large and small. It provides a way to centralize the organization’s digital assets, ensuring not only that the correct and most current version is being used, but also that it isn’t being duplicated unnecessarily.

The idea of maximizing the value of images and videos has become appealing to cash-strapped marketers being told to “do more with less.” Digital Asset Management (DAM) provides the ability to both re-use and re-purpose digital assets effectively while providing better management and control over the process.

Digital assets are generally developed for one of three reasons:

  1. To make money in businesses where the assets are the actual products being sold – for example, digital music or movie downloads.
  2. To market and/or sell products or services where the digital assets represent the product(s) being sold — for example, product images in a catalog or website.
  3. To reinforce a brand image or build brand equity — for example, a brand logo or logo for a special occasion such as “60 years of service.”

Maximizing the value of those digital assets is accomplished by getting as much use or work and result or return from that asset.

There are two basic ways to do that. You can either re-use a digital asset, which means employing it for the purpose it was created more than once, such as an image created for a specific PowerPoint presentation that is then used in other presentations. Or you can re-purpose the asset — that is, use the image created for one medium in a different one.

An example of re-purposing would be to take the image created for the PowerPoint presentation and use it in a brochure, on a web page, on a Facebook fan page, or in an email marketing piece. Each method creates a different type of value for the asset.
Increasing a Digital Asset’s Intrinsic Value

When you re-use a digital asset, you increase its intrinsic value. DAM makes it easier to improve the intrinsic value of a digital asset by allowing images and videos to be easily and cost-effectively cataloged in the proper format for the intended use. The easier an image is to find and access, the more likely it is to be re-used, thus improving its intrinsic value.

The more people who use an asset, the more valuable it becomes. It’s the story of the long tail — 1,000 people using an asset three times is just as valuable, if not more so, than 30 people using an asset 100 times. Think of it in terms of social media. Having 1,000 people watch a YouTube video 30 times gives you a lot more reach and impact — and ultimately value — than 100 people watching it 300 times.

The ability of DAM to empower users to find, use and repurpose a digital asset also plays a big part in calculating its lingering, enduring residual value. As marketers, we have grown so accustomed to repurposing digital assets in as many channels as possible that residual value is expected instead of being viewed as a bonus.

These days it’s rare that a digital asset is developed for one single purpose. Given the challenges in overcoming “noise” to reach target markets, the repurposing of digital assets –- and creating multiple touch points — in as many available channels is imperative to grab, and keep, an audience’s attention.

DAM systems encourage repurposing because they allow you to store one master high-resolution image file or high-definition video file in a single location which users can access in the format they need, on demand. The transformation engine within a DAM system cuts out the manual processes required to a get high-resolution TIFF file for a print brochure and a low-resolution JPEG file for a web site, for example.

Again, the more an asset can be repurposed, the more value it accumulates. Concurrently, the more an asset can be applied to new projects without being recreated or reproduced, the more valuable it becomes.

Controlling Digital Asset Usage

There are cases where marketers must control where and when assets are used — or even if they’re used at all. For example, when a digital asset is used in social media or deployed for social consumption, that asset can be re-used and re-purposed exponentially — to the point where marketers lose control of the asset and it instead becomes managed by the consumers or “socializers.”

Protecting against the possibility of an asset being hijacked by socializers is a “soft” benefit of DAM. For example, suppose an image was developed specifically for use on product packaging for future release, but that image was prematurely or unintentionally repurposed — used for something else.

This premature release could dilute the value of the asset and spoil the impact when used for its intended purpose –- not to mention that a “leak” of this type could be detrimental to the product launch and the authority of the brand.

It makes sense for marketers to have a tool that governs digital assets to avoid leaks into blogs or social channels. Even when leaks are intentionally used as a way of “pre-market” measurement or promotion, those assets would need to be protected at some point.

That old SNL skit demonstrated how everyone feels good when they get more than one use out of something they buy. “Wow — I can put it on my pumpkin pie and see myself in my kitchen floor? I must’ve done well when I bought it!”

This same mindset is pervading the world of digital assets, particularly in a cost-conscious economy. Organizations must maximize the value of all their digital assets, both to reduce their upfront costs and to increase the ROI on every expenditure.

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