In my previous line of work, as a post-producer, I managed commercials and corporate video editorial for various agencies and marketing firms in San Francisco. The need for DAM was apparent: I found myself spending more and more time wrangling digital assets. While I transition into this new line of work, I wanted to share some of the ways I think DAM systems would benefit my friends and colleagues.
In the advertising world, work must be done well and quickly. The creative workflow is fast-paced and runs the risk of devolving into a disorganized mess, hampering the speed and the ease with which work can get done. This is where DAM can help. It enables the players to be self-reliant. Creatives can find source material for a new campaign without the need of an assistant, video editors can download and cut in the latest end-tags and audio flourishes as soon as they are ready, and producers can confidently link an element to its usage rights. A DAM can reduce the possibility of mistakes. Ensuring the latest approved version of a spot goes to air or is sent out for approval will maintain a company’s track record with their clients. A DAM system promotes brand management, leading to the consistent use of client brands. Of course, a DAM will save an agency time and money. The last thing anyone in this business needs is to waste time trying to find the latest version of some element, only to find that it exists on a creative’s laptop two states away. A creative workflow often depends on sharing assets between distant locations. In this situation a DAM must lend itself to being available 24/7 and via popular web browsers regardless of the operating system being used. This situation may require load balancing. Being able to share the workload between offices nation- or world-wide is a bonus to having a DAM.
An asset management system must also integrate well with the existing workflow, otherwise it will cause work to slow down. Creatives are visual people. Building a system that looks good, is easy to use, and is robust is key to user adoption. An agency may offer little time for their employees to enter complicated metadata values. In such instances, building a short, concise schema with a drop down list of values will be invaluable. Adding an automated way to extract technical information from the assets when they are being ingested is a good compliment to this scenario. Studying the agency’s culture and building a user model as early as possible is helpful. By observing the way brands are being described and how products are treated will help data professionals develop controlled vocabularies specific to the agency.
The DAM project manager will benefit from defining the content’s life cycle. The result will inform how an asset is managed, distributed, and preserved. Contrary to many other industries, an agency’s data will usually have a short life cycle. The company will benefit from a workflow that supports the quick turnaround of an asset from creation to archive. Generally speaking an agency’s DAM can barely afford to be down, even for routine maintenance. As such, it is a given that customization will be required at the beginning of any agency DAM implementation. As the creative user-base becomes accustomed to the benefits of a DAM, additional customization will likely be called for. To support major changes to the DAM system, a mirrored system may be necessary. Ongoing development of both the DAM system as well as expanding the schema and taxonomy are needed to ensure continued success.