5 DAM trends

5 Digital Asset Management Trends in 2020

The digital age has transformed the way brands pursue their marketing strategies, and the technologies they use to implement these strategies. Digital asset management (DAM) in particular has evolved significantly over the past few years. What are some of the DAM predictions for the new year? Here are 5 trends we think we’ll see in digital asset management in 2020.

The world of digital marketing has witnessed many innovations and evolutions in digital marketing over the past decade: the rise of mobile, social media marketing, user-generated content (UGC), big data, artificial intelligence, among others. These events have forced marketers to adapt their marketing strategies, and as a result, have led to the growth and the improvement in marketing technologies. One field that has undoubtedly changed has been digital asset management (DAM). Once a repository to simply store your files, DAM systems have become a key component of the martech stack, helping brands from content creation through distribution, to deliver truly personalized and consistent digital customer experiences. 

As we begin the new year – and a new decade – we can expect many more changes and trends to emerge, shaping digital asset management best practices. So what new trends can we expect from DAM vendors this coming year? We interviewed 25-year DAM consultant, Frédéric Sanuy, to gather his insights on what some of the DAM predictions are for 2020. 

1. DAM as a destination for all users 

Improving the customer experience (CX) has been at the core of digital transformation initiatives, but it is not just key to improve the experience of customers. A new trend in digital asset management will oversee developments in the UI/UX of DAM platforms, transitioning DAM from just a database-front end, and a destination for mostly marketers, to an experience for all users.

According to Frédéric Sanuy, “it’s very important that for a successful CX, you’re able to use DAM for different purposes, especially in today’s omnichannel environment (print, web, mobile, social…) Instead of going into a DAM, downloading an asset, and opening it in Powerpoint, Word, or Photoshop, which can be a waste of time for designers and creatives, it’s important to establish these connectors in order to facilitate content creation. It’s also important for getting the right design, that you have search capabilities integrated in these tools that allow you to type keywords, drag and drop an asset, and update your files. Especially when the native file is an InDesign file, which can be very complex (because you have links, fonts etc) this can be hard to manage, so integrating your DAM via a snippet will be super useful.” Eventually integrating DAM within your organization’s tools, such as Microsoft Office, InDesign or emailing service, it will be much easier and quicker for designers, creatives and sales teams to edit and finalize content from their preferred tools.

DAM Integration

2. Artificial Intelligence

An increasing number of DAM vendors have integrated artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in DAM platforms, applying AI to assets to recognize faces and emotions or detect printed and handwritten text. In fact, according to Mulesoft, 37% of companies say AI is a priority, while 95% of companies plan on adopting AI within the next 2 years. 

According to Sanuy, “artificial intelligence is not just about auto-tagging. Something we’re starting to see is how to enhance the experience inside the system. For example with AI, the DAM system can learn from the user and build some widgets with the latest uploads based on metadata the user is searching for everyday or based on the latest assets they’re working with.” 

“Another emerging trend is the use of AI for managing translations, voice search and natural language processing”, says Sanuy. We’ve already seen big investments in voice search technology with new devices or ‘intelligent assistants’ like Google Home, Siri by Apple, or Amazon’s Alexa gaining popularity. We could expect a similar practice within a digital asset management solution. This functionality would allow users to search for content via voice input rather than typing keywords and other metadata.   

Finally, AI will largely benefit designers: “thanks to AI, it is  possible to automatically remove the background of an image, which is very useful for creative purposes and saves a lot of time otherwise spent doing manual work” says Sanuy.

Image touch up

3. DAM to support the digital experience

Today, “achieving personalized marketing across channels at scale” is a top priority. This was a key finding in Gartner’s 2019 Market Guide for Digital Asset Management and is especially true in 2020. 71% of decision makers report that customer experience is a top goal of their digital transformation initiatives.

Dynamic assets are a key way to achieve this. They allow you to generate multiple renditions and adaptations of assets, so that you’re able to deliver the right asset at the right time for the right channel. “Dynamic assets are something we’ve seen in the market this year (2019), alongside omnichannel automation” says Sanuy. “Today you have to produce 20 types of assets from an original asset, from website banners to sliders or instagram square images to packaging images. Thanks to digital asset management, you now only have to manage one asset, and from that you can generate more than 50 renditions.” 

Personalization across all possible customer touchpoints is extremely important today. But adapting content across multiple devices and channels while contextualizing the experience can be overwhelming. Dynamic content based on user context addresses this challenge. It dynamically adapts master assets and displays content according to the distribution channel (e.g. mobile, social) but also the user’s context, such as their location or web navigation. One way of doing this is by dynamically replacing the background of an image with one that will resonate better with the user. AI will thus be used to not only automatically remove the background of an image, but also dynamically replace it with another background, ultimately rendering media display “context-aware” and the digital experience customer-centric. 

Context aware media display

Templates are another way of achieving a high level of personalization. “For example, say you have a flyer with text and some rules that will authorize people to change the text, or price of the product, choose a style and a font etc. and automatically you have a new version. The capability to edit templates online in a DAM is very rare, but we’re seeing more and more DAM vendors such as Wedia, doing some great automation by integrating Indesign native files and templates management, which is much more than what DAM was doing just years ago”, says Sanuy. 

4. DAM as a digital marketing hub or a brand portal

Digital asset management takes place in an ecosystem where many solutions co-exist. In this marketing technology stack, recently referred to as an “omnichannel technology stack” by Real Story Group, Digital Asset Management has become a core instrument in bringing together internal and external systems. “DAM is at the heart of the digital hub,” says Sanuy. 

“Alongside UX and performance, this ecosystem is even more important today. Companies must connect systems with APIs so that data and content can pass between systems, and so that metadata/taxonomies are mapped and speak the same language. In all organizations you have a database, a PIM system (for retailers), a CMS, social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, but in order to aggregate data and syndicate content from the DAM to print, social, or CMS, companies must connect this all to the DAM platform. Establishing these connectors and getting these systems to communicate will be a differentiating factor  in 2020.” 

5. KPIs: Measuring DAM ROI

We know the benefits that arise from digital asset management: faster workflows and time to market, improved collaboration, better brand control etc… But to get the best return on investment (ROI), you need to be able to measure performance of your marketing assets and campaigns. The last DAM trend we think we’ll see in 2020 are KPIs (key performance indicators) and Business Intelligence (BI), measurement tools that provide you with important metrics and information on your assets and projects. 

“Whether you’re a brand owner or CEO or stakeholder of the customer, you use assets to manage marketing campaigns but at end of the project you need to be able to answer: ‘Where were the bottlenecks’? ‘What issues were there in communication?’ With AI we now have business intelligence tools to infer relationships between metadata of your assets and metadata of your projects. You’ll be able to identify issues and bottlenecks such as the time it took someone to approve content. These new analytics will allow you to continuously improve the usage of the DAM and its associated workflows, and ultimately help you get the best ROI.”

While some of these trends are not entirely new to Digital Asset Management and have been consolidating for some time – like artificial intelligence and analytics – they reveal big technological advances centered around today’s changing digital marketing landscape. With personalization and omnichannel marketing now at the forefront of marketing priorities, these 5 DAM trends will give companies the necessary capabilities, tools and data to put their ideas into practice and successfully compete in 2020.


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