Best Digital Asset Management Software: How to Evaluate a DAM

Best Digital Asset Management Software: How to Evaluate a DAM

Learn how to evaluate a Digital Asset Management system.

If finding your creative assets fast is important to your business, finding the best Digital Asset Management (DAM) system to help you achieve that is imperative. 

A DAM software system is an online hub that helps teams manage the entire creative process from brief to launch as well as creative asset management. It is the one central source of truth for all approved creative assets that helps you:

  • Find content faster than ever
  • Share digital assets seamlessly
  • Streamline workflows
  • Enhance collaboration
  • Maintain brand compliance
  • Uphold regulatory compliance
  • Help you launch brand and legal approved creative quickly


If you’re a part of a marketing team, creative agency, or any business looking to tighten operations around images, audio and video, we know you’ll appreciate how important these functionalities are.

But while understanding a DAM’s basic functionalities is important, finding the best digital asset management system for your specific needs requires proper consideration of where your business is at. By this we mean things like the nature of your business, its size, your workflow, legacy systems and future plans. This guide will help you work through the process of figuring that out.

Understanding Digital Asset Management

At its core, a DAM streamlines the management of all kinds of files including; documents, video, audio, design files and presentations. It has systematic protocols and uses metadata, tagging and AI tools that allows users to manage, search for, and distribute content efficiently and accurately. 

Surrounding its base function is an extensive range of workflows and integrations that come together to ensure these creative assets are not an island – but rather, a single point of cohesion marketing operations.

Understanding Different Types of Digital Asset Management Tools

Basic Media Library DAMs

Media Library DAMs are designed to simplify the process of managing and distributing creative files such as images, audio, video, Microsoft Office, Adobe CC and PDFs. They generally appeal to small teams and larger enterprises, where the driving requirement is to centralize files, categorize them according to the business and make them easy to both share and track. 

Core functionality of a DAM includes the ability to: 

  • Upload files one at a time or in bulk
  • Embed metadata
  • Assign metadata and categorize files
  • Search with advanced queries and filtering
  • Create lightbox collections
  • Email links to registered and non-registered users
  • Share and embed files into third-party applications (for example, your CRM, CMS and AdobeCreative Cloud)
  • Set review dates as to when a file needs to be retired or expired
  • Manage talent-use rights with alerts
Digital Asset Management systems help centralize and organize creative content.

DAM for Marketing Operations and Compliance 


DAMs used for marketing operations take work flow processes to a whole new level. Marketers and creators who opt for this type of DAM are generally looking for efficient solutions for managing their digital content processes.

As well as media library functionality, a Marketing Operations DAM allows you to: 



  • Manage creative workflows
  • Approve creative before it is downloaded 

  • Download, transform, crop, resize and manipulate files on the fly 

  • Collaborate creatively via version control, comments and markups
  • Manage creative projects, including submitting creative briefs online and tracking the status of marketing projects, including budgets and designer workload
  • Manage tasks against a project, including the reporting on stages and completion rates
  • Manage alerts and reminders
  • Provide detailed analytics on asset usage
  • Edit dynamic pre-approved creative templates
  • Access plugins for third-party marketing apps and web CMS
  • Publish digital brand guidelines to real time online portals for easy updating and access 
Digital Asset Management systems can include Marketing Operations to assist with workflow and compliance.

Archival DAMs


Archival DAMs are specifically designed for museums and other cultural organizations in order to retain historical records – so they’re ideal for heritage collections. They are suited for organizations with millions of files and are therefore usually hosted on-premise. Some archival DAMs have storefront capabilities to sell collections to the public or to invited users.

Set near and mid-term objectives

Before you buy any DAM software, you want a system that’s right for your business now – and can also grow with you over time, but you don’t want to purchase features you won’t use in the near or mid-term. 

Ask yourself:

  • Who will use the DAM?
  • What type of content will I store?
  • Who will manage the DAM? 
  • Can it grow with me?
  • What analytics can I see?
  • What are the measures of success?
  • How will the DAM integrate with existing tech?

While assessing various applications, we recommend purchasing for requirements you anticipate using 2-3 years out. Look for a solution that can grow with you over time rather than be limited by it. Below is what is known as the DAM maturity model. It’s a great starting point as it’s super relatable. It marries business objectives and pain points with functionalities to steer you to the solution that’s right for you. 

Ultimately, the best Digital Asset Management software solutions will provide flexibility to choose from a basic or full-scale offering.

 

Basic Digital Asset Management system

Basic DAM

Business Need

Centralize creative files, documents and media. Need files in one place, with permissions access and ways to categorize files in a way that makes sense so they are easily searchable and shareable

Attitude

“The shared drive is driving me crazy and we are losing control of our creative content. There is duplication and no measurement of who is using what, and the effectiveness of our content.”

Key Functionalities

Simple, cloud based DAM with metadata management, automatic keyword tagging, usage reporting and alerts

Brand Compliance Digital Asset Management solution.

Brand Compliance DAM

Business Need

Ensure creative is on brand & logos, brand assets and other creative files are accessible so the broader team understands guidelines and work is approved before it is distributed.

Attitude

Managing approvals in email is too hard and you need to control the quality of creative everywhere. An audit trail of usage and sign off is critical. Heavily regulated industry laws define the approval process for collateral.

Key Functionalities

DAM with workflow approvals, dynamic creative templates and custom brand guidelines pages.

Marketing Operations Digital Asset Management solution

Marketing Operations DAM

Business Need

Streamline marketing processes such as creative briefs, creative project management (with design and job management) and brand materials ordering.

Attitude

Managing marketing projects and budgets in spreadsheets is inefficient and chaotic. I need a system to manage creative processes that is auditable, creates efficiences and better measurement.

Key Functionalities

DAM with workflow approvals, custom forms and dashboard reporting on projects, tasks, designer workload and approval status.

Enterprise content management Campaign Planning Amber rgb 2000px

Enterprize Content Management DAM

Business Need

DAM as the single source of truth for creative files across the organization, with custom taxonomies and advanced integrations with third party systems. Can include Brand Compliance and Marketing Operations capabilities.

Attitude

“We can’t find anything, we have massive creative procurement inefficiencies. We are constantly double handling assets across multiple channels. There is no creative compliance throughout the organization.”

Key Functionalities

DAM with workflow approvals, custom forms, dashboard reporting and connection with CMS & other marketing apps.

 

See how your budget stacks up

Your budget is a crucial factor in the evaluation process. DAM platforms come in a wide range of pricing models, from affordable solutions for small businesses to high-end options for enterprise-level organizations. Be realistic about your budget constraints and ensure that the chosen platform aligns with your financial and staffing resources.


Determining the ROI of a DAM

Once you’ve set high level objectives, worked out the solutions you need to achieve them and received pricing, it’s time to weigh up if the squeeze is worth the juice.

When a company doesn’t have a system dedicated to managing its digital creative assets, marketing can become a cost-center rather than a revenue driver. Many of these costs can be identified and directly linked to time:

  • Time searching for assets
  • Time recreating lost assets
  • Time wasted when assets are underutilized time chasing stakeholders for asset approval

The net gain on any software purchase these days has to be significant. Our clients typically see a 50%+ reduction in time spent managing their creative assets. We’ve developed a tool to help you calculate your projected ROI as well as a methodical guide to setting up a business case internally.

 

Additional evaluation points

Along with our highly granular RFP sheet, here are some other factors to consider when it comes to selecting the best Digital Asset Management systems:

Does it have a user-friendly interface?

A user-friendly interface is essential for a successful DAM platform. It ensures that team members can easily navigate and utilize the system without extensive training or support. Look for features such as:

Is it scalable?

Remember that the chosen DAM platform should not only meet your current requirements but also adapt to your organization’s evolving needs. It should serve as a valuable tool to enhance efficiency, collaboration, and content management. By selecting the right DAM platform, you can unlock the full potential of your digital assets and achieve your business objectives with ease.

Check user feedback and reviews

There is no better temperature check on a Digital Asset Management vendor’s performance than verified user review sites such as G2. The G2 is the world’s largest and most trusted software marketplace. More than 80 million people annually — including employees at all of the Fortune 500 companies — use G2 to make smarter software decisions based on authentic peer reviews.

Thousands of software and services companies of all sizes partner with G2 to build their reputation, manage their software spend, and grow their business.

We’ve prepared a downloadable report that allows you to see exactly where IntelligenceBank fits in the DAM landscape. It analyses our performance across key G2 categories as well as a side by side comparison of top rated vendors.


Vendor experience and longevity

Digital Asset Management as a category and there are a lot of new players blurring the lines between DAMs and other semi-aligned functionalities. It is critical to choose a vendor with a proven track record in DAM management and also has a clear and exciting roadmap for future development.

Making your decision

Digital content is king and has been for some time now. Chances are the volume of digital creative assets you hold is going up not down. Deploying a digital asset management platform can be an absolute game-changer for your organization when it comes to getting brand and legal approved content to market fast.

We’ve got a lot of resources to refer to for help, such as the Ultimate Guide to DAM, a deep dive on the benefits of a DAM as well as How to Buy a DAM. And of course, there is one more, slightly old fashioned way of evaluating DAM providers. Have a face to face and run through a demo. We’d love to hear from you.

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