How to Choose a Digital Asset Management Vendor

June 20, 2023

Contributor: Philip Booth

Scope requirements and use cases and ask key questions to secure the right software for your organization.

Digital asset management (DAM) software plans and manages the creation, approval, organization and distribution of all types of content (text, graphics, images, videos and audio) from a single system. It ensures that each piece of content is the best and most appropriate for every interaction, and that internal and external stakeholders properly use digital assets to increase customer engagement, retention, acquisition and satisfaction.

"DAMs can deliver phenomenal functionality and ROI in today's market,” says Nicole Greene, VP Analyst at Gartner. “With the potential to operate as the proprietary content library for generative AI, they offer organizations a tantalizing opportunity for the future. However, this opportunity is rapidly developing, so content operations, marketing and creative leaders must do their research to understand and plan accordingly."

The rapidly expanding volume and velocity of content, real-time personalization variations, global distribution and the rapid growth of generative AI and other disruptive technologies are driving organizations to consider DAM platforms. To find one that best meets your organization’s needs, ask the following.

5 Questions to Help Evaluate a Digital Asset Management Platform

No. 1. What are the key incentives for buying digital asset management software?

  • The proliferation of marketing touchpoints is fueling an accelerating need for organized and coordinated content development and storage. DAM solutions enable organizations to better deliver the key components of advanced marketing capabilities, like real-time personalized marketing across multiple channels at scale.

  • Future market changes: The increasing use of content libraries and generative AI for images suggests you need a platform that supports your ability to meet market needs now and going forward. 

  • Content growth: Volume, variety and uses are rapidly increasing, and marketing leaders are struggling to classify and organize assets. DAM workflow and project management solutions leverage taxonomies to let marketing and creative teams transparently and efficiently deliver against development cycles. 

  • Brand and regulatory expectations: When interacting with a brand, customers put a high priority on consistency and continuity. DAM platforms enable marketers to distribute content that has been audited and subjected to rigorous approval processes, which is critical for efficient and effective martech ecosystems.

No. 2. Are you ready to start the evaluation process?

To better structure and guide vendor conversations:

  • Prioritize key requirements so as to define the DAM use cases you need to support. Contextualize the benefits of DAMs and examine how those align to your specific business needs.

  • Minimize disruption by defining your DAM integration strategy through identifying incoming and outgoing data and asset flows.

  • Define how your DAM solution will affect existing or planned workflows. Ensure all impacted teams and users are ready, capable and enabled to leverage the DAM. Ask for their feedback early and often, and be prepared to act upon it to deliver and maintain ROI.

No. 3. Does the potential provider offer key core features?

All DAM solutions should support:

  • Divisional deployment: Only one division, department or business unit has requirements for centralizing and managing digital assets for marketing.

  • Bulk intake and outtake of content assets: Authorized users can copy entire collections, libraries and folders into and out of the DAM storage.

  • Tag, organize and store finished assets: Users can tag content assets with metadata. 

  • Cloud-enabled technology: Technology providers can deploy solutions in one predefined cloud environment such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

  • Organize and filter user access to assets based on tags: Users inside and outside of the organization are allowed to share the assets stored within a DAM system through simple access control options like password protection and expiring links.

  • Search for and download assets on demand: Users can access rapid search and downloads of finished/approved assets based on tagged metadata.

As you get more granular, use Gartner BuySmart™ to determine whether a provider vendor is active in your market, access peer reviews and feedback, and access industry experts’ takes.

No. 4. Is the software you’re considering the right one at the right time for your organization?

The most successful technology purchases begin with understanding your requirements, which, for DAMs, include:

  • Asset development, tracking and approval: Manages and tracks all assets through the content creation process, including seamless single-sign-on (SSO) integration with creative software such as Adobe Creative Studio.

  • Content planning: Plans, schedules and assigns the end-to-end process for generating and updating content assets.

  • Product usability: Provides readily accessible interfaces with intuitive designs to facilitate user engagement.

  • Asset library: Organizes work in progress, approves and even expires content into a searchable, secure and backed-up library.

  • Library organization: Tags and organizes assets with meta-tagging and into folders and subfolders, including a fully customizable starter structure designed to accelerate performance.

  • Access control and publication management: Controls teams’ and individuals’ access to all parts of the system and content libraries. 

  • Digital rights management: Implements restrictions and controls on assets, like licensing requirements, regional copyrights and expiration dates.

  • Content assets sharing: Lets field sales teams, ad agencies and franchisees access the content assets needed for their roles. 

  • Automated delivery and updates: Automates the proactive delivery of approved content into third-party systems, such as email and web content management engines, to ensure all content remains relevant, compliant and accurate.

Gartner BuySmart™ allows you to assemble a robust, customizable list of requirements, so that you can more easily ensure that the DAM you choose does what you need it to do.

No. 5. Will this DAM platform meet your business strategy and support future market needs?

In a confusing, overlapping and rapidly changing landscape, you are likely challenged with implementing a forward-facing technology ecosystem that supports agility and personalized customer experiences at scale and enables you to prepare for the arrival of advanced technologies likely to disrupt business as usual. You want to be certain that DAM software helps you deliver an integrated content operations ecosystem that:

  • Works cross-functionally to define and prioritize use cases and the capabilities required by the range of users across your organization’s content operations ecosystem. 

  • Tracks existing vendors in terms of their potential for acquiring or being acquired by other martech vendors

  • Manages for the “speeds and feeds” of the content ops systems: integration, training and support. 

  • Enables understanding of how vendors have built their offerings, which capabilities are native, which come via partnerships and which are newly acquired.

  • Accommodates the deployment of generative AI, which can draw from your existing library of assets to create new content.

Nicole Greene is a VP Analyst at Gartner. She analyzes marketing strategy, trends and practices with an emphasis on content marketing and management, digital experience and AI.

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