What is a Headless DAM?

What is a Headless DAM?

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At IntelligenceBank, we’re seeing more customers use our Digital Asset Management (DAM) software not only as a front-end portal to manage assets and content compliance, but as a way to power dynamic marketing and improve their content governance through the use of our ‘headless DAM’ feature.

What is a headless DAM?

A headless DAM is a Digital Asset Management platform without a user interface or front-end. Traditional front-end human DAM users typically log into the DAM software, search for files, download them, transform them into different sizes and formats or even upload files with custom metadata. The end-user of a headless DAM dynamically connects with other software and services using an API.

While ultimately a person consumes the final content, the headless DAM’s first ‘consumer’ is the software service that delivers the content to another portal or application in a format and structure needed by that downstream service.

When to go headless?

If you have several applications or portals that rely on the same documents, media or images to be served in multiple places, headless is the way to go. It removes duplication and can automatically establish one to many relationships between files and systems.

For example, if you are a company with several brands or divisions and are selling the same product across multiple websites, you would not want to manually upload the exact product image and its corresponding descriptions and metadata to several different sites. Instead, you would dynamically distribute the same file to multiple destinations using the DAM’s CDN (Content Distribution Network) link.

So if the product changed, you could update the image, description, and metadata once and be automatically sent to multiple locations. With a headless DAM in place, you save time, provide consistency and ensure only approved and compliant assets are being used across all channels. By centralizing how files are ultimately being distributed, you can also report on the asset’s usage, so if an image or video is underperforming, you can proactively change that as well.

Can you have a headless and traditional DAM at the same time?

Yes, and you should. Well designed DAM systems like IntelligenceBank, enable a common platform that is feature-rich for users while providing secure and high-speed access to other systems. Users of IntelligenceBank can define the rules and governance on assets and those rules flow to any other system that tries to access them. 

An example of this is one of IntelligenceBank’s clients who use their DAM to manage large videos. Internal staff are using the platform to search and view videos. Since the DAM is also connected to an e-commerce engine, external customers can purchase video content. Therefore when a sale is made, an API call is made to the DAM to fulfill the online order.

Why go pure headless?

Marketing technologists and developers love Headless applications because it gives them building blocks to quickly create scalable, integrated and innovative solutions. So the three operative benefits being: scalability, freedom and control. A pure Headless DAM application is used when the content is driving other applications and is not a destination unto itself.

There are several benefits to using a Headless DAM, but before moving forward, there are six critical things to consider when assessing this type of content distribution model:


By specifying your Headless DAM system with information such as ‘How many read, write and search calls do you need the API to make within an hour?’ (or during specific time periods such as working hours), it will ensure that content is delivered quickly and efficiently across all channels.


The API’s will be searching and managing content based on metadata. The
metadata management capability within the DAM needs to be robust, configurable (you will
probably want custom metadata fields) and you will want the ability to embed metadata into files from the DAM.


It’s about how well the system handles large files. Chunking doesn’t sound nice, but it’s super important when streaming large files – especially video (to ensure there is no disruption if Internet speeds are erratic).

Formats and previews – When a file gets delivered to another application, it needs a thumbnail and the ability to be previewed before downloading. IntelligenceBank supports over 100 different file types and it’s mission-critical that these can be returned in the API call.

Sizes and presets

Files need dynamic derivatives so they can be optimized for different
devices on the fly (depending on how the ultimate end user is viewing the file).


A Headless DAM can deliver hyper-personalized experiences. It does so by using artificial intelligence, granular metadata and having the API connect with other software and services.

Use cases for headless DAM

There are several use cases that only a Headless DAM can offer marketers and managers of dynamic content. Here are a few ways you can take advantage of this type of the application’s flexibility and scalability.


In personalized marketing, we know so much about a consumer and we can present them with unique content at precise moments. But the true value of personalization has yet to be realized because the part of marketing that changes consumers’ behavior is visual content (images and video). With the power of AI and a Headless DAM, we can make visual content flexible as text content and do it with intelligence. By creating reusable content components and storing them in the IntelligenceBank DAM, we can let AI’s power tell the DAM how to create new content in real-time. Not only will it be culturally, demographically, contextually and psychologically relevant, but it will be impactful for that individual marketing touchpoint.

Intelligent content

For years, the DAM industry has focused on “enriching assets with metadata,” but that effort has made it easier for humans to find and use the content. Now, we need solutions that can scale and accelerate our marketing efforts. To do this, the content that drives our marketing must become more intelligent. The rules of usage, relationships to other content, and lifecycle need to be part of or instantly accessible by other content systems outside of the DAM. IntelligenceBank platform services bring these capabilities to fruition.

Omni content

The goal for omnichannel focuses on the historical process of write once, publish everywhere. For most marketers, omnichannel marketing breaks down when trying to provide dynamic visual content. Today’s platforms support changing the size and orientation of content to present the best on different devices or mediums. But the platform and the medium are not the only two variables for omni content marketing. Today we need to consider variables such as dark mode and reverse colors, bandwidth, handoff between devices, cached displays, and hundreds of variables in the print world. With a Headless DAM, all of your omnichannel platforms have secure access to the digital master assets and all of its derivatives and variations needed to execute a true omnichannel process.

Get in touch

As marketers and other content owners are operating in a world of digital content explosion, it’s time to look beyond a standard Digital Asset Management use case and think about headless applications.To learn more about Digital Asset Management and how it can help your business, check out our Ultimate Guide to Digital Asset Management, or contact us directly.

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