The Evolution of Digital Asset Management: Innovating in Technology
Over time, Digital Asset Management (DAM) platforms have expanded in use cases, becoming powerful tools used for marketing, sales and commerce activities. But this modern and sophisticated technology today used to streamline global businesses’ omnichannel strategies is thanks to DAM’s ability to take advantage of technological innovations, and thus meet the challenges of global brands. The second article of our article series explores the various technological milestones enterprise DAMs have made in order to drive more value for businesses and support their advanced use cases. Let’s explore these various technological DAM innovations together.
In the first article of our article series “The Evolution of Digital Asset Management” we looked at how DAM has claimed its place in companies’ MarTech stacks and in the daily lives of marketing professionals. But it was a transformation that did not happen overnight. Today’s best-in-class DAM platforms, many of which are moving towards “MACH” architecture – microservices, API-driven, cloud, headless – are the result of various technological advances and innovations. So which capabilities has DAM adopted in order to keep up with customer expectations and provide them with the best possible user experience?
8 key ways DAM platforms innovated in technology
1. Universal media support: going beyond established file types
In the beginning, DAM systems could only support basic file types like photos and videos. But over time, as ‘content became king’, brands needed to create more varied content in order to engage customers and create meaningful interactions. An image or data sheet was not enough to sell a product. Companies needed to produce rich media for multiple delivery channels: POS materials, brand visuals, 3D files, 360 content, product pack shots etc. To stay relevant, DAM platforms started to support these established and emerging file formats, becoming a Single Source of Truth for all marketing and brand assets, no matter their size, type (image, audio, video etc.) or format (JPEG, PNG etc.). To see some of the most popular file formats stored in a DAM, take a look at this infographic.
2. Artificial Intelligence: automating media indexing
As DAM began to support more types and volumes of media, indexing these assets and finding content relevant to users’ searches presented a challenge. That is, before artificial intelligence (AI) entered the picture. As DAM platforms started to integrate AI capabilities, it was now possible to automate classification and discoverability of content. By scanning images and videos, AI could detect scene types, sentiments, people, age ranges, presence of specific models of products etc. making subsequent searches much easier and powerful. By introducing and leveraging AI, Digital Asset Management proved it was there to automate low value tasks such as assigning metadata, and therefore accelerate marketing initiatives, rather than slow them down.
3. Another key marketing DAM innovation: Advanced Video Capabilities
The field of Digital Asset Management witnessed many digital marketing trends over time, but perhaps one of the most buzz-worthy terms to emerge was none-other than “video marketing”. As video marketing became a must-have for businesses and the fan favorite of younger generations of consumers like millennials and Gen Zers, DAM platforms had to keep up with the growing demand for this popular digital marketing format. DAM providers started to integrate video functionalities that went far beyond basic storage. Some of these new capabilities included the creation of video playlists, video chaptering, interactive CTAs, tokenization, automatic transcripts and translations, video workflow and approval, the list goes on…
4. Content distribution: ‘create one and publish everywhere’
While centralizing, organizing and accessing digital assets from a single interface was solving a complex business challenge, DAM started to face a stern reality. Consumers used multiple channels and devices to interact and shop from their favorite brands. DAM therefore needed to be more than just a reference for companies’ assets. Powering customer experience was now at the heart of digital marketing initiatives and content like images and videos consistently delivered in the right format, and in the best quality, was a necessary prerequisite for achieving this. DAM platforms started to integrate diffusion capabilities, working with Content Delivery Networks in order to seamlessly deliver assets across multiple touchpoints and digital experiences to their audiences.
5. Integrations & APIs: Integrating DAM into a broader ecosystem
Delivering assets to multiple marketing and sales channels brought another significant innovation to DAM: integrations and APIs. Publishing content first and foremost meant fully integrating a DAM system with the key building blocks of a company’s information system. The DAM needed to communicate and integrate with various applications in order to push content to a company’s website, e-commerce site, mobile app, social media publishing tool or marketing automation platforms. It also needed to ingest important customer or product information from a PIM, CRM, ERP or data platform to enrich and optimize these customer experiences. In essence, in order to really provide customers with the best digital omnichannel experiences, DAM could no longer be independent of the rest of a company’s digital ecosystem, and powerful integrations and APIs made this possible.
6. Analytics: going beyond internal DAM usage
While internal analytics like getting a breakdown of a DAM system’s users and assets appeared rather early on, as DAM adopted digital experience functionalities, it became crucial for brands to understand how customers were interacting with their content. Analytics capabilities for scoring content performance were necessary to guide content production and optimize engagement across the customer journey, touchpoint by touchpoint. These new analytics complemented existing analytic systems such as web analytics, audience analytics (CDP, CRM…) and helped customers gain important media-centric and audience-centric insights. With advanced analytics, organizations using DAM could now understand how different assets performed across markets, channels and customer segments. They could ultimately improve their marketing efficiency and prove the ROI of their assets.
7. Dynamic assets & atomic content, get ready for “automated” personalization
“Propose the right content to the right person at the right time”. If you know anything about DAM, you’ve probably heard this sentence in recent years. Optimizing content for a specific device or channel was an indispensable evolution in DAM, but as the need for personalization became digital marketers’ number one priority, DAM needed to build on this capability. ‘Dynamic’ or ‘atomic’ content allowed companies to generate multiple variants of assets in order to dynamically contextualize each user experience. Content could be adapted based on the technical context but also based on user context and behavior, creating multiple personalized experiences from a single master asset. With dynamic content, we saw the introduction of ‘smart cropping’, background removal, color substitution, dynamic customizable templating etc. to create all these required variants.
8. Product Views: Supporting the boom in e-commerce
In the last couple of years and in the context of a global pandemic, we’ve witnessed a boom in e-commerce and a shift to digital ways of working and shopping. The role of product marketing assets became more important than ever: customers needed to see multiple images of a product before purchasing online. Functional product images like pack shots and 360 views, but also carefully designed ambient and inspirational images or videos that could trigger emotions. DAM systems offering a “product view” accompanied brands in effectively managing this visual content, allowing them to ensure all necessary and brand consistent visuals were available for eCommerce and marketplace platforms as well as other sales channels.
While these are just a few examples of technological DAM innovation, one thing is certain: innovation is at the core of DAM and this trajectory will only continue to grow. DAM providers that capitalize on new technologies and capabilities to solve marketers’ biggest challenges will keep them ahead of the game. At Wedia, our R&D team’s main priority has been to bring our customers a next-gen DAM designed to support emerging trends and drive better experiences, both inside the DAM and outside.
Stay tuned for the third and final blog post of our article series “The Evolution of Digital Asset Management” coming next month!