The Single Source of Truth
Giving the gift of ubiquity to your assets
Do you know how much of your marketing content is duplicated in your company? Do you know which team, be it marketing or communication, is the biggest consumer of your latest photo shoot? And this image found on Twitter, do you know who produced it? How do you tackle these challenges?
« With the Single Source of Truth », announces Olivier Grenet, Wedia’s Chief Technology Officer.
Olivier, what are the recurring problems you see in terms of content at large companies?
Everything starts with the usual trend: the ease of production – and increased asset consumption – has gradually led to a high level of complexity for companies. It has been generated by a profusion of creative tools, hosting offers, broadcasting platforms, etc. Typically, in large enterprises, everybody stores images by their own means: communication uses the corporate website, marketing has its merchandising tools and e-commerce solutions, corporate communication relies on its brand center etc. This phenomenon is amplified by the number of subsidiaries and countries.
And what are the consequences?
Beyond the obvious consequences, such as cost, security, or inefficiency, there are real problems. The first is in relation to production quality, such as degraded photos, missing links, missing fonts, and heavily compressed images and videos that cannot be repurposed anywhere. Then there are issues related to duplicates, for example by not indexing them in the same way as the original content or unifying the file names and attached keywords. This creates discrepancies and of course leads to confusion. Last but not least, there are copyright issues – when an asset is copied, its actual rights will most likely not be copied, leading to improper usage and legal risks – and channel usage rights problems, such as when an asset acquired for digital use may only be printed. Model releases will be ignored, placing companies in legal trouble, and believe me, this can be a real mess. It is critical to manage these topics more smoothly and easily. Without a doubt, the only solution is the centralization of assets.
What is the “Single Source of Truth”?
This expression comes from the world of computer science. It is not only a matter of creating a unique documentary reference, but also of using it as a single source of distribution. From a digital point of view, it is like a database also used as a content server. In practice, pre-existing software won’t change, but will use links (i.e. URL) towards content. This is a very smooth transition: rather than copying the asset to a local library, you are just embedding it. Consequently, the Single Source of Truth is a perfect match for a Marketing Resource Management (MRM) that includes a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution.
Can you remind us what a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution is?
A DAM is the central repository for all marketing and communication content such as photos, videos et al. It enables them to be stored, managed and shared easily among teams, channels and markets. That marketing platform also offers the ability to control these assets with validation workflows, enforcing their associated rights and ensuring their history and traceability.
With today’s focus on content marketing, these platforms are becoming indispensable to brands, which currently invest large amounts of money and time in the production and management of content. Since content needs to be delivered in multiple formats for multiple channels and markets, the focus is not only on developing content, but continuously repurposing it for various audiences. This reality has made marketing platforms that much more important in scaling marketing activities: they provide a central hub for digital assets, so that a users can quickly find, edit, and deliver the precise asset they want, increasing both operational efficiency and confidence that they have taken the proper, most up-to-date and brand-safe asset. Due to this functionality, the value of a DAM extends far from sophisticatedly organizing your creative files to empowering teams across your organization to work better and faster.
Let’s go back to the Single Source of Truth. What are the major benefits?
Its primary benefit is the ability to truly cope with the usage of content on several axes, starting with the famous copyright management, which is a puzzle without it. You can prevent the rights’ expiration when you choose to automatically archive the image and plan its replacement on a specific date, or simply negotiate an extension. You can also control its geographical and/or network usage, because content can be authorized on Facebook for example, but not on Instagram, or in Europe, but not in the U.S.
By documenting usage rights and restrictions, the Single Source of Truth allows organizations to avoid copyright infringement and maintain brand integrity. It enables you to react very quickly in case of a crisis. Because the withdrawal (or modification) of an asset is instant, it can be very useful if an inappropriate photo is inadvertently found online. At the same time, it provides the possibility of setting up embargos on a selection of images or videos. For example, it is possible to blur the future assets of a new model of a car brand until its specified release date. For educational and training videos, material may be updated without having to change anything on the website – it is just a matter of pushing the new version from the platform.
How else does it empower teams?
Because users are able to locate digital assets quickly and customize them for publication across different channels, they save huge amounts of time and cost reproducing, reviewing and delivering final content. The Single Source of Truth also helps connect digital assets to existing tools and teams as these solutions can integrate with an organization’s entire ecosystem, including e-commerce sites, Content Management System (CMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), mobile applications or brand center. Each participant in this ecosystem draws its content directly from the marketing platform, but also retrieves all the metadata associated with its assets. This information can be as varied as the name of the product on the picture, its size, GPS location of the photo shots, legal information or product references. A picture of a blue bike for a child, which is on the site of a retailer, will automatically see its “alt” tag filled with essential information for its Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And on an e-commerce site, the URL of each image will contain all the references to the product. Essentially, it gives you the flexibility of being able to pull, update and upload content across any channel from one centralized location, connecting the people, processes and technologies of your business.
Where does data analysis fit into this process?
By syncing these various tools, companies are not only able to better collaborate and manage projects but benefit from rich analytics providing a single view into marketing data. Indeed, it is the only way to instantly obtain the performance of an asset. With the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms in a marketing solution, it is possible to detect trends and predict the success or failure of content. This allows you to produce popular content again or vice versa, to change it so that it doesn’t get boring. Data analysis also makes it possible to automatically suggest content adapted to the diffusion, orienting the creativity on what pleases or is requested by each of the brands’ business units, or in every country where it is present. Ultimately, the Single Source of Truth is making content management easier.
Lastly, what is the Return on Investment (ROI) for the implementation of DAM solution with Single Source of Truth?
Imagine a river delta: a river begins at a source (or several sources), and eventually flows into a large body of water. But before it reaches this final destination, it would divide into many channels that will enrich the field, known as the river delta. A DAM platform works in a similar way: these systems support the journey of an asset from its retrieval in a single source of truth library, through its transformation, and eventual unique distribution on different devices and platforms. This way, you maximize the value of your marketing asset at every place of usage, and benefit from cross-channel and media-centric data analysis. And by simplifying this process onto one central platform, you reduce your content production investments, open up new revenue streams and are able to measure your marketing ROI from a consolidated pool of data: unification gives actual value to each and every piece of content, making it easy to divide the production cost by the number of impressions. Moreover, IT services have only one database and solution to keep up to date – which will be the unique reference for dozens of different applications – and marketing services are pleased, avoiding duplication or unnecessary purchases of art. The automation of tedious and time-consuming activities also enables them to focus on higher value tasks such as strategy and creation. Finally, we end up with a diffusion of content that scores high on technical quality, brand consistency and user experience, all of which is made possible through a powerful management solution giving you complete control over your assets, your communication and your brand.