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Q: How to Choose a Digital Asset Management System


Marketers and creatives are expected to produce more content faster than ever before. 85% of industry professionals say the demand for speed in content and asset creation has increased over the past 12 months. 

The speed and volume of content you need to create can make it hard to manage it all. That’s why brands are turning to technology like Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems to take control of their content, turn around campaigns faster, and get content in front of the right audience at the right time.

Not all DAMs are created equal, so it’s important to know which DAM has the suite of tools and features that will set your brand up for success.

The Cost of Out-Of-Control Content

What we hear from a lot of our clients before they partner with us  is that their content is out of control. 

And it’s costing companies more than you think:

  • Time and effort wasted: A study from Asana revealed that 13% of an employee’s day – 6.5 hours per week is wasted on tasks that have already been completedThat’s 236 hours per year.
  • High ROI work can’t be done: According to Asana, with almost two-thirds (61%) of our day taken up by tasks like file sharing, searching for a sales team deck, or checking messages, only one-quarter (24%) of time is spent on the skilled job employees were hired to do.
  • Productivity is negatively impacted: 82% of survey respondents of the 2019 Intelligent Information Benchmark report stated that navigating different systems & locations to verify the most current versions of files negatively affects productivity.
  • Brand consistency is a struggle: CMI found that 45% of marketers are having a hard time keeping up with demand and maintaining consistent brand guidelines and messaging.
  • Unused assets: 51% of study participants in a Digizuite report said they waste time and money creating assets that are never used because people don’t know they exist or can’t find them.

What is a Digital Asset Management System?

A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is a cloud-based software solution that aids brand management, helping to organize, manage, and distribute digital marketing materials. 

What is a digital asset? A digital asset is any media file type that has been created or stored electronically. Types of digital assets usually fall into one of the following categories: 


Your DAM offers a centralized location where team members, clients, contractors, and other stakeholders can easily access the entire digital library – from any connected device.


Your digital asset management software should serve as a single source of truth, which helps your organization maintain brand consistency, increase productivity, and maximize ROI.

Benefits of a Digital Asset Management Solution

Streamlined workflows

Streamline workflows with automation tools for collaboration, reviews, and approvals 

Organize assets in one place so all team members and stakeholders can easily access your content

Accelerated campaign delivery

Deliver campaigns faster and ensure brand consistency with easy-to-use on-brand templates

Metadata tagging

Metadata tags help speed up search functionality, making it easier to find desired assets in your archive 

Permissions and access control

Control which assets specific users can access and customize permissions in what ways they can use them

Improved ROI

Demonstrate your content’s ROI so you’re confident in the value of your content  

Cost savings

Cut costs by reducing redundant tools

Easy integrations

Integrate the DAM system with your existing martech stack 

Performance measurement

Make data-driven decisions for new content based on existing asset performance

What Your Team Wants From Your DAM

Every member of your team can benefit from using a DAM. But understanding what each team member needs from your DAM can help you choose the right solution.

C-Suite Marketers Creatives
Depending on your organization’s size, the CMO, CRO, COO, and even the CEO might weigh in on which DAM solution to choose. Executives will be more concerned with budget, future costs, and how the DAM system fits into the business’s future roadmap. Marketers are often intermediaries between content creators and other functions, such as sales. A strong DAM system enables marketers to keep track of digital content across its lifestyle, streamline approval and review processes, develop fresh content from pre-designed templates, and measure the success of individual assets. Designers, copywriters, and other creatives are fed up with manually entering metadata, juggling multiple creative platforms, and performing other repetitive work. With a modern DAM system, content creators can simplify their process, discover opportunities for collaboration, ensure brand consistency in an asset library, and streamline asset management, end to end.


IT/Ops External Stakeholders
IT and operations teams are more concerned about scalability, longevity, performance, security, compliance, integrating the DAM with your existing tech stack, and staying on budget. Finding a solution that automates time-consuming workflows and fits well with the organization’s current and future architecture will be a priority. IT and operations teams will be curious about more technical components, such as APIs and native integrations. Partners, agencies, contractors, and clients also need access to your brand’s content. A modern DAM platform equips your team with the right tools to seamlessly share media assets with third-parties.


10 Steps for Choosing Digital Asset Management software

Choosing the right DAM tools can be a daunting task. To help you get started, we’ve put together a simple, step-by-step game plan:

  1. Determine what level solution you need. Just getting started? Basic for you. Need a bit more power? Grab a mid-grade software. Are you part of a large enterprise with complex business needs? You’ll need an enterprise solution.
  2. Make a list of must-haves for your DAM software. Creating a list of necessary capabilities, customizations, and features can narrow your search. Helpful tip: analyze primary users and functional requirements per department. 
  3. Begin researching DAM solutions. Pay close attention to costs, features, customer support offerings, the onboarding process, flexibility, and integrations.
  4. Align with your organization. Understand who will use the DAM system. Engage key stakeholders early on, including marketing teams, creative teams, agencies, sales teams, and others. You will also want to get support from an executive or other organizational champion, such as a CMO, CRO, or COO.
  5. Create a short-list of DAM solutions that meet your martech stack needs. Find 2 or 3 solutions that match your organization’s unique needs, both in terms of functionality and budget.
  6. Evaluate demos. Have the DAM’s sales team walk you through the platform. Some DAM vendors offer short trials, while others provide additional assets to give potential buyers a better feel for the platform and various use cases.
  7. Compare prices, features, and capabilities. Still not sure which to choose? Then evaluate the pros and cons of the DAM systems under consideration. 
  8. Chat with folks that use a DAM! If you know anyone in your network who has a DAM, ask them about their experience. If not, leverage online forums like Reddit to get honest answers about providers.
  9. Choose the right solution! Once you’re confident that you have found a DAM system that meets your organization’s unique needs, congratulations! You’re ready to sign the paperwork. 
  10. Begin the onboarding process, and witness the positive brand results. 

How to Compare DAM Systems

Before finalizing your decision, you’ll want to carefully compare solutions to make sure that you choose the best DAM system for your organization. 

Functionality and features

Key DAM features to look for include: 

  • Customizable embedded metadata and tagging, which can include information such as file name and description, EXIF, and IPTC metadata tags, or customizable metadata fields that are important to your organization, like SKU or the location or event where an image was taken.  
  • AI Tagging for metadata tags that are important to your organization, such as automated tags for people, players, brands or objects in an image.
  • Search capabilities, including keyword search, and advanced search such as AI-powered search 
  • File sharing capabilities
  • Real-time workflow capabilities
  • Analytics and performance tracking tools
  • User management and permissions
  • Mobile app / on-the-go functionality
  • Automated workflows
  • Templates for creating collateral
  • Intuitive navigation for browsing
  • Collaboration tools 
  • Integrations with other platforms and tools (more on integrations with your martech stack below.) 

Integration with current marketing technology stack

While you will likely collect some tech debt during periods of intense growth, consider your current software providers and tools to boost productivity and eliminate redundant tools. Your DAM solution should meet your short-term needs, as well as mesh well with your long-term roadmap. 

Closely evaluate which DAM solutions have integrations with the following:

  • Design tools to make it faster for your team to create (Adobe CC and Canva)
  • Content management systems & social media marketing tools so your content can be published directly from your DAM (WordPress, Sidearm Sports, Drupal, Socialie, Hootsuite, Greenfly, Inflcr, Opendorse, Slate)
  • File Sharing platforms so your team can easily import assets from where they already live (Box, Dropbox, Drive)
  • Communications platforms to ensure your team is up-to-date about what is happening with your content (Slack, Microsoft Teams)
  • Project management tools to help get content through the process faster (Asana, Wrike)
  • Photo workflow integrations to simplify the process for your photographers (Photo Mechanic, Fotobridge)
  • API for customizable integrations for your organization

Ensuring that your future DAM solution integrates with your tech stack saves money and enables adoption. 

Ease of Use

While some level of set-up and training is almost always required, it shouldn’t slow down productivity. 

An easy-to-use interface boosts adoption across the organization, especially for less experienced users. Select a DAM provider that puts a premium on customer experience.  

Usability may not be equal across the board. Here are the features you should consider:

  • How easy it is to get set up
  • How easy it is to upload and access assets
  • How easy it is to organize, search for, and find assets
  • How easy it is to share assets
  • How easy it is to integrate into your current tech stack


Speed, scalability, efficiency, and overall performance should be top of mind for decision makers. 

Some key components to evaluate are:

  • Storage limits
  • Level of AI and automation capabilities
  • Number of users, assets, and searches 
  • Tools to evaluate key metrics and user insights 
  • Customizable workflows and other features that allow users to optimize the DAM system’s architecture 
  • Upload speeds 
  • Content distribution speed 
  • System scalability 

Focusing on performance ensures that your DAM solution meets the needs of a scaling business, so you avoid switching costs in the future. 

Compliance and security 

With more hackers disrupting business operations each day, investing in a DAM platform that offers best-in-class security capabilities is a necessity. It’s crucial for maintaining compliance. 

At the minimum, your DAM solution should include:

  • SSO, or multi-step user authentication 
  • Encryption 
  • Antivirus and malware protection 
  • User permissions and access controls that restrict access
  • Access options such as private, public, and limited to select groups or users 
  • Copy rights management tools
  • Data loss prevention & protection measures
  • Multiple copies of your data being stored in different geographic locations 
  • A disaster recovery plan 
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Change management 
  • High uptime 
  • Compliance with applicable regulations (e.g. GDPR compliance, HIPAA, FERPA, EU-US Data Privacy Framework, CCPA, CPRA, or PIPEDA)

Don’t let your security fall by the wayside. Safeguard your business’s intellectual property and sensitive information by choosing a DAM vendor that cares.

Customer support, onboarding, and training

Choosing a DAM platform with a robust customer support system makes the first few weeks even easier. 

In addition, double check that your DAM vendor provides a robust suite of training materials. This might include product updates, training manuals, one-on-one training sessions  or regular emails alerting users about what’s new. 


Pricing for DAM solutions varies. Your DAM vendor should provide you with an initial quote. Your annual DAM costs will be determined based on:

  • Number of users and user types 
  • Storage 
  • Features
  • Onboarding costs and fees, including implementation support 
  • Customization 

Top 10 Questions to Ask a DAM Provider

  1. Can you describe the primary functions and capabilities of your digital asset management (DAM) system?
  2. What file types and media formats are supported by your DAM system?
  3. How does the system facilitate sharing and distribution of digital assets?
  4. Are there any built-in analytics or reporting tools to track asset usage and performance?
  5. How user-friendly is the interface, especially for non-technical users?
  6. How does your DAM leverage AI to make my team’s life easier?
  7. Can the system handle rights management to protect copyright and usage compliance?
  8. What measures are in place to ensure the long-term viability of assets within the system?
  9. Do you have any case studies or references from current clients that use your DAM?
  10. What is the onboarding process like and what kind of training do you provide?