neon sign reading: "All We Have Is Words // All We Have Is Worlds"
PHOTO: Alexandra

“Dictionary – opinion expressed as truth in alphabetical order”  — John Ralston Saul

Defining Digital Asset Management Terms

Digital asset management (DAM) consists of the management tasks and technological functionality that helps companies organize their media assets like photographs, video and marketing assets to strengthen their message or brand.  DAM systems inventory, control and distribute these digital assets for use and reuse in marketing and/or business operations and help simplify the workflow to ingest, annotate, catalog, store, retrieve and distribute them. DAM systems may be developed to house different forms of rich media including audio, image, and video file, organized by descriptive data about the asset.

This is the second part of a two-part series defining commonly used terminology in the DAM space to help with your DAM initiatives.

CMS: A content management system (CMS) is a software application which involves the creation, management and often publication of digital content. CMS and DAMs are related within a business or corporate ecosystem. CMSs are often broken down further between Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems — for internal content management — or Web Content Management (WCM) systems — for creating, managing and publishing content on public-facing web pages.

Codec: A codec is a mashup of the words code and decode. It is a program that compresses data to enable faster transmission and decompresses received data.This is most often seen in compression to shrink a large movie file or convert between analog and digital sound, therefore, audio or video codecs. The purpose of a codec is for speed, that is, to speed up downloads.

Data Migration: This is the process of selecting, preparing, extracting and transforming data and permanently transferring it from one digital storage content system to another. The validation of the migrated data for completeness and accuracy of legacy data within systems are considered part of migration process. This migration is most common when migrating assets and metadata from one DAM to a new DAM, or for consolidation and/or disaster recovery efforts.

Dublin Core: The Dublin Core Schema is a small set of 15 vocabulary terms that may be used to describe digital resources such as videos, images, web components, etc. as most often found in a DAM. The Dublin Core most often serves as the “starting point” or “metadata inspiration” for any organization when creating their DAM metadata model, or other central data schema.

EXIF Data: EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format and is the data created by a camera every time a picture is taken. This can include date, time, camera settings and possible copyright information. Further metadata can be added to EXIF, such as through photo processing software. EXIF data is a valuable source of “technical metadata” to be used in a DAM.

Linked Data: Linked data refers to a concept by Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, for a common practice of exposing, sharing and connecting information and data on the web. This approach is referred to as the Semantic Web. Linked data is a standardized semantic approach to making data inter-relatable so it can group itself with other relevant concepts. Large global organizations and businesses are also using linked data methods for managing and discovering their own wealth of enterprise data.

Metadata Standard: A standard is an agreed level of quality used as a measure, or norm in comparative evaluations. It needs to be evaluated on a regular basis through the ongoing work of the metadata manager/taxonomist. Use an industry standard if you can find one that applies and extend it as needed. Created by industry members to meet the specific needs of that industry, standards adoption results in huge cost savings. Examples include Dublin Core, ONIX, SMPTE, PRISM, PRISM DIM2, METS, MODS, XMP, MARC, IPTC, GILS, SCORM, IMS, JDF … Which one(s) you use depend on the business purpose(s) you want to accomplish.

MAM: A MAM is a Media Asset Management (MAM) system and is most often found in the broadcast media market to serve their complex video needs, though it has become increasingly popular in all industries. MAMs focus on the management of large volumes of high-resolution and long-form video formats for storage, archiving and distribution. In many instances, a MAM is often related to a DAM within a business or corporate ecosystem.

MDM: Master data management (MDM) is the technical discipline/method of enabling an enterprise (both the business and IT) to link all of its critical data to one file, most often referred to a “master” file for centralized governance. In many instances, a MDM is often related to a DAM within a business or corporate ecosystem.

MIME Type: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) is an internet standard that extends the format of email to support as a way of identifying files on the internet according to their nature and format. This is text in character sets other than ASCII. Non-text attachments: audio, video, images, application programs, etc.

Ontology: Ontology refers to a way to classify and connect items in a more flexible fashion as it does not need to be limited by the notions of classes and class definitions. Ontologies are a representation, formal naming and definition of categories, properties, and relationships between the concepts, data and entities that make one, many or all domains.

PIM: A PIM is a Product Information Management (PIM) system, a central source that manages the content required to market and see products in a corporate and often global enterprise setting. This central set of product data, often multi-geographic and multilingual, can be used to feed data to ecommerce, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or a trading partner. A PIM is often related to a DAM within a business or corporate ecosystem.

Preservation: This term refers to the protection of digital content, assets such as videos, images, documents, etc., most often in a digital and/or physical archive through activities that minimize deterioration and damage and that prevent loss of informational content. The primary goal of preservation is to prolong the existence of those assets.

Retention Policy: Content owners should create a retention policy and retention schedule that quantifies information or asset life cycle and defines the relevance of a given asset type over time. Identifying what is ephemeral, duplicative or low value decreases system burden while allowing the focus to be on preservation of archival, unique, and reusable material

Use Cases: In DAMs and other content systems, a use case is a list of actions or event steps defining the interactions between a role, most often identified a user or user group, and the system to achieve a specific action and/or goal. Use cases are most often used when doing the business requirements and discovery for selecting a DAM as well as for regular maintenance of the DAM over time. The use cases may also be used to help with creating the business case for the DAM.

Related Article: A DAM Glossary of Common Terms

Build Your DAM Foundation 

The decision to implement a DAM is the right step in the right direction to gaining operational and intellectual control of your digital assets. DAM brings with it great responsibility for how the organization’s assets will be efficiently and effectively managed in its daily operations and is essential to growth. DAM as a single source of truth in the organization helps quantify the value of digital assets, through their discovery, use and reuse in daily operations. Any successful DAM implementation requires more than just new technology; it requires a foundation for digital strategy.