Let DAM Do the Dirty Work

1. 'Start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology' —Steve Jobs

Think of an amazing dining experience. In a restaurant, the waiter is in the best position to interact and understand what experience would most delight the customer. A good waiter can easily assess a customer and can process personalized orders with the chef. In turn, the chef will create a meal that matches the customers’ taste and then the waiter will deliver that special meal to the customer. The smoother and faster this collaboration happens, the higher the likelihood of delivering an amazing experience increases. Chances are, none of this happens by chance. Management started with the customer experience they wanted to deliver and worked backward.

A major Internet content provider took this approach when it revamped how it captured premium advertising revenue on digital properties. Better customer experiences on its Web properties would increase the likelihood of higher revenue. The company decided to help its ecosystem of advertisers create compelling and relevant advertising experiences to drive high levels of engagement (and as a result, revenue).

It decided to simplify the process to create, manage, deliver and measure digital advertising content. The company’s technology stack would include a well-integrated set of analytics, ad management, serving and publishing technology, creative tools -- with digital asset management positioned at the center of the solution -- and a digital library to connect digital assets to digital experiences.

Just like a chef and waiters in a restaurant, digital marketing and creative teams need to be joined at the hip with the right technology, tools and processes to deliver experiences that matter.

2. Ditch the Shared Network Drive

Most of us have already learned this lesson. The shared network drive as a central collaboration space without asset management can be a recipe for disaster. For many organizations, the shared network drive wasn’t the original plan. It was useful in the early production cycle but then it grew into the de facto place to store creative marketing assets. The team went around or didn’t integrate with the DAM for various reasons, from outgrowing a DAM that no longer met the needs of today’s stakeholders to a draconian IT policy that forced creative and marketing teams to use a corporate enterprise CMS that was designed to manage documents, not rich media assets.

The shared network drive likely started small: a special shared folder that was set up so the team could collaborate and get things done quickly. But it grew into a mess. Now the users are faced with several questions: Who’s editing or has checked out the latest version? Where can I leave feedback? How can I prevent others from seeing this asset until it’s ready? Where is the DAM file?

As a result, we spend more time fighting a system that wasn’t built to support the task at hand than creating amazing digital assets for new digital experiences with our best creative and marketing minds.

Assets can and will change over time. People will come and go. These are facts of life. For example, creative pros and marketing teams will collaborate on an asset at many different paths and times of the production and postproduction cycles. Instead of browsing among multiple hierarchies of files and folders and relying solely on naming conventions such as Spring_Banner_Backpack_V3.21998, leveraging a DAM to capture and maintain metadata and versions is a much richer approach.

With a DAM we can create a “snapshot” of a digital asset at a specific point in time -- the DAM always know the latest version. If we need to go back in time to audit, compare or restore assets to previous versions, it’s all there. A solid metadata and taxonomy strategy can also ensure that assets are easily discoverable and highly utilized. Delaying the move to a DAM to get features such as an improved search experience, content and workflow notifications, true version control, metadata, etc. will only give your team additional work in the future as your production and distribution challenges grow in complexity.

Tip 3: Let the DAM Do the Dirty Work

Creative pros and designers must spend time doing what they do best -- being creative. They shouldn’t be bogged down with mundane tasks best left for the DAM, such as resizing, reformatting or transcoding files. In most cases, we can count on the DAM to do the dirty work.

Consider this lesson from a mid-sized manufacturing company with a 10 person team assigned to produce new marketing creative and sales collateral. One of the team’s most time-consuming tasks was to take creative output, convert it to different formats, sizes and resolutions, and then store the renditions on a shared file server. It was a constant struggle to keep up with the demand for new content, especially as the marketing department increased the demands for new content as well as the scope of the variations/renditions the creative team needed to produce.

They moved to a DAM that automated the creation of multiple renditions of the newly created assets (sizes, colorspace, formats). The revamped process now allows the creative team to produce more than three times more new content, which directs their time back to higher value tasks -- creating digital experiences.

Title image by clogozm (Flickr) by CC BY 2.0 license