We’ve been exploring Web Engagement Management (WEM) perspectives lately. This time we look at the role that Digital Asset Management (DAM) plays in engagement. And based on my experiences, I'll put a stake in the ground and say that most organizations and DAM vendors are missing out on the potential DAM+WEM love.

Web Engagement's 5 Components

We've done a deeper dive on the elements of Web Engagement Management, but the topic bears a quick revisit for those less familiar with it.

WEM in essence is the strategy and practice of how an organization optimizes its online presence. While web content management still sits in the center, the five pillars of WEM draw on a number of different tools and ideas.

The 5 core WEM concepts are:

  1. Content Optimization
  2. Multi-channel Management
  3. Conversational Engagement
  4. Demand Generation
  5. Sales and Relationship Automation

Because WEM is a composite strategy, it will continue to evolve. And although changes to each area will naturally inspire activity in complementary areas, overall it's really about how an organization chooses to connect with their audience that will serve as the backbone for successful in these pursuits.

Why DAM Matters for Engagement

For all the reasons above, WEM is nothing without Web CMS, and DAM in WEM is a strategic necessity. Digital Asset Management functionality might seem like (eye) candy to marketing and advertising people, who are always on the lookout for enticing rich media -- be it images, Flash, or videos.

However, whether they use digital assets in email campaigns, on the Web, or in other delivery channels, the supporting DAM systems stand to make a big difference n just how much success they find in the WEM domain.

For engagement purposes, considering the following factors:

1. Communications Consistency

For brand, message and asset quality consistency in your cross-channel communications your team should be re-using the same images, logos, illustrations and videos.

DAM systems serve as a centralized repository for all your re-usable rich media and for related services like indexing, formating, resizing and metadata management. And no, for a number of reasons, your network file share does not qualify as a healthy replacement.

2. Asset Findability

Managing DAM findability through the efficient use of metadata is critical. Without digital assets being tagged properly, chances of finding them when they are needed is slim. And DAM users need to be able to find them quickly, without having to upload duplicates. The equation is easy: Happy end users = accelerated operational processes = better-quality work = more engaging experiences for your customers.

If frustrated content managers spend hours trying to collect the right assets rather than spend that time on experience tuning, you can guess that overall quality suffers. DAM can be an important enabler via high levels of asset findability.

3. Content Management Agility

Again, think a combination of findability and re-usability with a goal to be agile in DAM production and delivery cycles. Agility is also about reducing cycle times, costs and embracing flexible, adaptive processes. Cost reduction, shorter time to market, higher content quality, deeper engagement are some of the outcomes of a greater process agility.

4. Asset Mobility and Distribution

Close to the concepts of re-usability, mobility is all about the ability to render digital assets properly for various channels --  be they email, mobile, web or print. A good DAM solution has your engaging assets ready for delivery through a variety of channels.

The readiness of various renditions and transcodings of the same source asset is key to delivering engaging content. Even beyond WEM, there is much money to be saved here as well, creative renditions can be a huge time sink. A modern DAM system should as least partially save you from this trouble.

5. Asset Engagement Measurement

As the Digital Asset Management Journal notes, "companies are missing out on the holy grail of information -- information obtained through real-time streaming of assets from their digital asset repositories to the engaged customer and back."

As with any other type of content, digital assets need to be measured and analyzed -- especially, in cases of cross-channel distribution and integrations with analytics, CRM and e-Commerce systems.

6. Asset Optimization

We do all of the above to be able to improve the effectiveness of our efforts through optimization of digital assets. Optimizing the actual assets and semantics around them translate into the ability to deliver personalized content in your WEM scenarios. The association between text and digital assets makes for a stronger focus of an online, TV, or mobile campaign. 

A proper DAM system will be able to account for and deliver all those variations of assets optimized for different channels: from tightly compressed videos for web to even more tightly compressed ones for mobile. Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics can always be used to measure how delivery speed directly contributes to conversion rates.

Why DAM Needs More Love in the WEM Relationship

Currently, most DAM vendors aren’t much concerned about web engagement management. This may change in the future, but, as of now, the link between DAM and WEM lies in the web content management domain.

Why? Because there are two possible scenarios of how DAM can be involved in your WEM activities:

  1. You use a Web CMS that is integrated with a DAM system, where the latter is used as a central repository for your assets. Some vendors offer both Web CMS and DAM. In other cases, the two may be coming from two different companies.
  2. You don’t use a DAM system, but rather utilize the basic rich media asset management functionalities that are built into your Web CMS.

DAM -- while it can be a standalone system -- is an important support mechanism to WEM. Just like with Web CMS, DAM needs to be tightly and usefully integrated with other systems in your organization for you to take full advantage of DAM when delivering on your web engagement strategy.

According to Theresa Regli, principal at The Real Story Group and author the Digital & Media Asset Management Report:

...DAM is increasingly fitting into WEM strategies -- even if it's not something the DAM vendors talk about much, if at all.

Engaging online experiences increasingly involve rich media, video, 3D and pre-purchase product experiences (be it an interior tour of a house or car, or seeing all angles of the shoes you're looking at). Web CMSs can't manage these sorts of experiences as well as a DAM can -- and this is where the integration becomes so key to WEM.

Usable DAM systems and integration interfaces make a difference for the marketeer Joe, who is trying to put a campaign together without going through the pain of using too many, too complex tools. In the ideal world, the integration among Web CMS, WEM and DAM tools would be so flawless that users wouldn’t notice the difference of working in multiple systems.

Staggering volumes of digital content in TMEs (telecommunications, media and entertainment) and CMEs (communications, media and entertainment) elevate the need for effective DAM strategy even higher. And the role of Web CMS? Very often, a Web CMS plays the role of the personalization and profiling mechanism in this relationship, where the CMS is wedged between DAM and content delivery and distribution tools. 

DAM Players Reaching for WEM

Most DAM vendors are focused on traditional asset management challenges like handling high volumes of assets and executing workflows efficiently. But there are a few companies making notable WEM efforts. Here’s a look at some of them.

Autonomy (news, site) with its formerly Interwoven’s MediaBin product is making great strides to be meaning-based as part of Autonomy’s overall vision. That translates to the ability to find meaning deep within video and image files and extract highly detailed metadata from them using Autonomy's Deep Video Indexing technology. 

In particular, it extends that ability to search rich media assets in internal and external content repositories including social media, blogs and video, while identifying the most relevant assets related to both the search queries and the market segment. Other functionalities include advanced analytics, automatic categorization, dynamic content associations and business processes.

CoreMedia (news, site) offers a Digital Rights Management product, which really is a very limited set of digital asset management functionalities focused on digital rights protection with OMA DRM 1.0 and OMA DRM 2.1 standards support. 

Day Software’s (news, site) DAM is an essential part to their CQ5 web content management system. Day's stance on DAM and WEM: Visual imagery brings the emotional reaction that draws attention, prompts community promotion through social networks, and be the final trigger to an online conversion. Good marketing is about emotion. Good marketing online to drive business requires DAM.

Since DAM is also critical for campaign optimization, customer segmentation, building an online community, social collaboration and social conversation, Day included those capabilities in their latest release of DAM.

FatWire (news, site) Digital Asset Management is provided by EMC Documentum. Key features enable marketeers to manage, transform and deploy assets in their campaigns, with the goal of doing that easily and cost-effectively. Fatwire stresses asset re-use and brand consistency across channels in its integration of DAM with Web Experience Management (WEM) framework.

Open Text (news, site) delivers DAM mainly through the Artesia acquisition. Features-abound, the product includes metadata management via automated or manual means, taxonomies, vocabularies, versioning, asset linking, findability, re-use, workflows, with the ability to the ability to transcode assets for distribution via email, FTP, HTTP.

ADAM Software, VYRE, MediaBeacon, North Plains and Nuxeo DAM are also offering varying degrees of DAM functionalities that you may want to check out in your quest for near perfect DAM+WEM love.

Today and Tomorrow: When the Love Comes

Just as you have a Web CMS with WEM capabilities, or a Web CMS integrated with third-party engagement tools, you should have a WEM-friendly DAM system. From what I see today, however, this may be hard to come by --many pure-play DAM vendors are still waking up to WEM. 

With this relationship currently leaning more towards the Web CMS side, first of all, consider a WEM-friendly Web CMS. A good start (if you’re not looking for a full-blown DAM system) is to explore some basic rich media management capabilities that are built-in in most modern web content management systems.

What is missing right now is clear understanding of how DAM and WEM play together, and how to effectively use DAM to propel your engagement strategy. Currently, there’s lack of understanding of how to best use DAM to produce and manage engaging customer and brand experiences, as digital asset management is not being fully accounted for in most engagement strategies -- neither by customers nor by vendors.

This applies not only to web engagement, but to mobile engagement as well -- as we shift towards the mobile-everything-anywhere paradigm, 4G networks, and a variety of mobile devices that need to be able to consume and render digital media.

DAM is not there yet. That's bad news for engagement managers, but good news for vendors -- there are spiffy new versions to work on and some fancy new branding to realize. Stay tuned to this space.