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Digital Asset Management Platforms Embrace Social Collaboration Tools

Digital Asset Management Platforms Embrace Social Collaboration Tools Matthew Gonnering
For many online consumers, it’s hard to imagine the time before user ratings and comments. How else would we know how a particular pair of running shoes fits or how a certain movie or recipe went over among our trusted cohorts? Today’s ubiquitous social collaboration tools inject new insight and efficiency into everyday decisions we make. They fortify our choices with objective input from those who have gone before us and who have no reason to steer us wrong.

Now imagine it’s not running shoes we’re in search of, but the right digital image among thousands to include in a crucial client presentation or national ad campaign. The stakes become a lot higher, as does the value of peer input and experience.

Apply the community-based knowledge sharing model to the digital asset management (DAM) world, and the value of faster and more informed decisions can be huge — in dollars, man-hours, competitiveness and brand reputation.

That’s why leaders in DAM software are beginning to embrace the user-driven social model and put it to work for the agencies and marketers they serve.

DAM platforms help centralize your digital media assets and enable easy distribution and repurposing by those who need them, when they need them. That helps you manage the entire asset lifecycle — from creation to expiration and archiving. They are essentially industrial-strength, enterprise-scale versions of familiar repositories like Dropbox. For marketing organizations and agencies, DAM tools provide essential Web-based access to a client’s digital asset library, eliminating manual search and file preparation and ensuring costly marketing investments are used to their fullest — not repeatedly misplaced and recreated.

Indeed, the assets housed and accessed via DAM are often the lifeblood of a brand. Think, for example, of the high-dollar photography and video investments a major automaker has in its library: thousands of images for each model, model year, body type, color and option package. Images used in advertising and collateral, but also in publicity, dealer training, fleet sales presentations, etc. Large marketing organizations must have a way to easily manage, share and distribute their marketing media so that users can search and select the right asset for each application, fast.

Those benefits are what the DAM industry is built upon. But in the age of social collaboration, top DAM vendors are adding a new layer of value to the equation. Searchable information packaged with each asset can now include user feedback and history. In addition to the very familiar five-star rating system, user comment capabilities can provide nuanced institutional knowledge about use cases, asset history and quality. “This image doesn’t meet 2013 brand standards.” “This image was used on the 2012 annual report cover.” “The client in this video testimonial has since been indicted for fraud.” “Amateur!!!” You get the picture. Users can even “follow” assets, getting updates when changes are made or other users interact with assets in certain ways — in much the same way social media sites alert you to other users’ interacting with your posts.

Clearly, the social collaboration model aligns well with the needs of DAM users and creative teams. The key, however, is not to reinvent the wheel. Vendors must stay as close as possible to the iconic features their agency and marketing users know from experience at Amazon.com, Facebook and other popular online destinations. Like it or not, they have already trained your users and set their expectations. While DAM vendors may be tempted to create a branded “exclusive” feedback system of their own, there’s far more value in features that users can grasp and exploit instantly.

As the model takes hold in our industry, other kinds of collaborative tools that easily group assets for specific campaigns, product launches, promotions or events for easy sharing with approved users are emerging. Users with administrative permission can make individual collections globally searchable and viewable. Also on the rise are in-app alerts to new messages and user-configurable email notifications on anything new or changed within the asset library.

Especially with the explosion of multi-screen campaigns, online video and mobile channels, a social collaboration approach to DAM is the way of the future. As libraries grow and become more diverse, social features will ensure marketers continue to get maximum value from their investments, build brand consistency, and respond to client and organizational needs efficiently.

Matthew Gonnering is the CEO of Widen Enterprises, a Madison, Wisconsin-based digital media solutions provider. He has been recognized by Madison InBusiness Magazine’s 40 under 40 list.

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