Digital asset management (DAM) systems can be found at the heart of many digital marketing campaigns or departments, even if the users don’t use that particular label to describe what they are using to upload, share, distribute or locate digital content.

Adoption of DAM seems to be on the rise. Recent research carried out by eMedia on behalf of North Plains with 100 marketers found that half of all respondents are currently researching DAM,  a third are planning to improve existing systems and a further 13 per cent are looking to replace or implement new systems in the next 6-12 months.  This is no surprise, given the growth of rich media and the increasing 24/7 culture, where the need to be able to create, distribute and access digital assets quickly and efficiently becomes more important with each passing day. Having a central repository for digital assets makes a lot of sense.

1 Education is key – whether you’re a novice or someone who has experience in DAM, it’s worth doing some thorough research, because DAM systems have evolved hugely over the past few years.  Fortunately, there are lots of resources available, including reports, LinkedIn groups, events and websites.

2 Be clear what the DAM needs to deliver – this may sound obvious, but it is where organisations can easily go wrong when putting together the specification for a DAM.  Invest time in defining exactly what problems the DAM needs to solve (such as creating a central place for all video assets), and for whom in the organisation the DAM is going to make the most difference.

3 choose the right delivery platform – you have three choices here: ‘on-premise’ (using the company’s computer servers, back-up and security); cloud-based (remote online service from a third party, so there is negligible impact on internal IT), or a hybrid solution of both.  There’s no single answer here and even if you’re planning to go the cloud route – where theoretically you don’t need to involve the IT crowd – it makes sense to get their views, advice and buy-in.  Regardless of how the service is delivered, it is essential to choose a provider that really understands your business and will provide on-going consultancy and support.

4 Build a strong argument – let’s face it, most new projects tend to get some resistance from someone in the organisation, so create a very tangible business case for DAM.  Sure, there are plenty of ‘soft’ benefits, such as spending less time looking for assets and being able to react to external demands more quickly.  There are also benefits that have hard values, such as money saved through reduction in duplication of assets and sharing content across the organisation.

5 Find stakeholders – apart from marketing and creative colleagues, other people might include the legal team, the purchasing department, IT and HR.  Consider finding someone in senior management to ‘sponsor’ the project, to help encourage buy-in to cascade downwards. 

6 step-wise implementation – as a general rule, it is best to implement one step at a time, rather than across the whole organisation.  For example, start with one department or team who are not only pre-disposed to the idea of having a DAM, but are likely to see some fairly rapid benefits.  This will help encourage other users in the organisation.  

Define functional requirements – this is part of the implementation process and involves looking at user personas and what each needs to be able to do.  For instance, someone in the social media team will need to be able to access images and video files very quickly, and at the same time ensure their actions are visible to their colleagues.  Using a DAM can help them to upload and share social media content more rapidly and efficiently whilst ensuring the relevant stakeholders can track the progress of the content.

Choosing, specifying and installing a DAM can seem a daunting process, but for today’s increasingly demanding digital marketing environment, once in place a DAM can make a big difference.  The secret is to choose not just the right technology, but to also focus on the right processes and approach.

Deena Brown

Deena Brown


Deena Brown, Marketing Manager, North Plains.