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What is Digital Asset Management

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Asset Management

The Ultimate Guide to DAM: Everything You Need to Know About Digital Asset Management; How it Works, and Why It’s Important

Digital asset management (DAM) is the process by which organizations store, share, organize, find, and retrieve digital assets from their ever-growing library of content, rich media and digital materials, things like images, videos, audio files, branding material, presentations, proposals and more.

In other words, digital asset management is how organizations keep and utilize the digital assets they need to grow their brand, empower their sales teams, and disseminate a clear and purposeful message to their audience. This guide has everything you need to make sense of your digital assets, and choose the right digital asset management system for you.

What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Digital asset lifecycle

Definition: Digital asset management (DAM) is a business process and an information management technology that enables organizations with a centralized system to organize and access their media assets.

What is a Digital Asset (Digital Asset Examples)

A key component of digital asset management is, of course, the digital asset, defined as any type of uniquely identifiable media that exists in a digital format as legally belonging to the organization.

In the era of digital transformation, there is really no limit to what a digital asset can be. In fact, any file that you possess the legal right to use is considered a digital asset, including:

  • documents,
  • images,
  • audio files,
  • videos
  • logos,
  • power points slides
  • presentations,
  • spreadsheets,
  • graphics,
  • PDFs,
  • 3D models,
  • animation,
  • etc.

These media files come in several formats, including PNGs or JPGs for images; WAVs and BWFs for audio files; PSDs and TIFFs for design files, as well as PDFs, Word docs, and more.

Regardless of the file or media type, every business will inevitably accumulate thousands of digital assets. As your media library grows, so will the need to find, store and share those assets in a way that enables your team to utilize them effectively. That’s where a digital asset management system comes into play.

How Does Digital Asset Management Software Work

Research shows that marketers spend over 60% of their time retrieving information or restructuring lost assets and other low-value tasks. Digital asset management software works by creating workflows that enable your team to find, store and share the files they need to work most effectively.

To simplify the search for assets, DAM solutions utilize metadata to identify digital content with attributes and specific keywords. These identifiers create an index used to group and categorize assets by common tags (e.g. whitepaper, eBook, etc.), media type (e.g. video, image, etc.) and technology used (e.g. Photoshop, Canva, etc.) to improve searchability.

Empowered with that type of functionality, your team can then leverage your index of digital assets to create rule-driven workflows, and enable task and process automation. In other words, a DAM system works by creating agile workflows that enable your team to find, use and share your digital assets faster and easier than ever before.

But saying a DAM system helps you manage your digital library is like saying your smartphone helps you make phone calls. It ignores the incredible functionality, capability and value that the system provides to the average user.

Benefits of a Digital Asset Management

A successful digital asset management system offers much more than a simple repository for digital files, it enables your team to organize assets in a way that makes the most sense for your business.

Organize Digital Assets into One System

The perpetual need for marketing content means your marketing and branding teams are constantly churning out new content like blog posts, infographics, logos and branding material. But a large media library makes it easier for team members to misplace or misuse a valuable digital asset.

A digital asset management system alleviates that problem by providing a centralized location where users can find, store and share the digital assets they need. That type of functionality not only improves efficiency, but also makes it easier for marketing teams to adhere to a consistent brand strategy and make content as accessible as possible.

Repurpose High Performing Content

A key aspect of digital asset management software is the visibility it provides to your team. By providing a birds-eye-view of your digital asset library, DAM software enables your team to extend the value of media assets by identifying high-performing content to reuse and repurpose.

DAM software, thereby, makes it easier for your team to adapt existing digital assets for other creative purposes. With maximum accessibility over past and current media, your team can breathe new life into concluded projects while saving time, money, and resources by retooling existing assets.

Improve Internal and External Collaboration

File sharing via email is no longer a practical means of transferring a large volume of digital assets. Workplace chat software like Slack is a great way to communicate internally with colleagues, but it does not provide the kind of interagency collaboration facilitated by a digital asset management system.

A DAM system enables users to share assets with internal and external partners without additional software. This improves collaboration, and reduces time-to-market for important campaigns. If you’re looking to improve internal and external collaboration, be sure to look for a DAM system that offers support for multiple asset formats.

Measure the ROI and Performance of Digital Assets

Every department needs to generate reports to inform stakeholders and answer specific questions. It can be a frustrating process, especially if you rely on uncustomizable, canned reports from external sources.

A digital asset management system enables you to create customizable usage reports for governance and track your assets wherever they’re activated, unlocking previously inaccessible data views.

In other words, a DAM makes it easier for your team to measure and report on the usage and performance of digital assets across different channels, and/or consolidate performance reports across product category, geography, and audience segment.

Integrate Your Marketing Tech (Martech) Stack

Modern DAM systems are a wash with innovation and functionality, but they can’t do everything. Fortunately, DAM systems like OpenAsset are packed with integrations that enable your team to utilize their favorite apps, tools and software via a seamless workflow and user interface.

In fact, the only way to truly integrate your martech stack is to build a strong data foundation through DAM focused on the people, the process, and the technology that affects your content.

Would you like to learn more about marketing technology? Follow the link to read our guide on how to build a martech stack.

Streamline the Content and Media Lifecycle

As your business grows, your content and digital asset library will grow exponentially. A digital asset management solution can streamline this process and serve as an incubator for all branded content, enabling teams to ideate, create, share, and manage assets from inception to publication.

Support Sales Channels and Marketing Channels

Sales and marketing need to collaborate on mission critical content, and distribute high-converting assets like datasheets and customer success stories. The right DAM system enables marketing and sales to communicate and transfer valuable digital assets with speed, ease and efficiency.

Armed with the power of self-service, your sales, marketing and communications team can collaborate more effectively; locate the assets they need, and capitalize on opportunities without unnecessary downtime.

Enable Your Sales Channels To Pursue Local Initiatives

The best way to support your sales efforts is to enable your sales organization to adapt content and sales material to the constraints of their local market. One way to do this is to improve the agility of local teams by arming them with the right assets to achieve their goals.

An enterprise DAM with distributed marketing capabilities can provide your local sales and marketing teams, affiliates, distributors and partners with customizable campaign kits and media collections that span that whole range of media. With template-based customization, you can enable easy and timely local production, ensure brand consistency and guarantee that legal compliance is never an issue.

Deliver A High Quality Customer Experience At Scale

According to a report compiled by Oracle companies are beginning to improve their customer experience through digital transformation and the development of more targeted strategies, but they are not performing as well as they think they are.

Unfortunately, businesses often fail to successfully execute due to fears about implementation, inability to align with existing systems, and high costs. Fortunately, DAM technology has evolved to provide processes and automation to directly address these fears.

By implementing a modern DAM system, you enable your team with the capabilities they need to deliver a consistent brand message, and support omnichannel customer experiences at scale without extra effort.

Minimize Legal Risk and Ensure Compliance With Usage Rights

From international clothing brands to architecture firms and construction companies, if you have a logo, your business is likely to encounter an issue with regulatory compliance. In addition to intrinsic issues with brand consistency, marketing and communications teams need to also track the use of licensed photos, images, or other assets.

What’s more, license rights and regulations often vary from region to region. Fortunately, a DAM system enables your team to stay in full control of compliance by enabling your team to:

  • control content usage,
  • track compliance with regulatory obligations,
  • involve legal, risk and compliance managers in the content validation process,
  • enforce communication embargoes,
  • segment assets and content by localization, language and market,
  • eliminate off-brand or off-message communications, and
  • avoid penalties for copyright infringement or regulatory non-compliance.

Support Your Video Marketing Strategy

Video files are typically large and come in several formats which makes it difficult to launch, manage and support video-centric marketing campaigns. Fortunately, an enterprise DAM with video capabilities enables you to automate the production of video variations at scale.

That means your team can serve the right version of your video — at the right time — to the right person — no matter their screen, bandwidth or platform.

Consolidate Redundant Tools and Automate Repetitive Tasks

Ultimately, much of the value that a DAM provides is found in the number of redundant tools, tasks and capabilities that it consolidates. The right DAM system also automates tedious workflows and repetitive tasks so your team can focus on what matters, building your brand and growing your business.

Digital Asset Management Features

Modern digital asset management systems are loaded with features that streamline asset management and optimize the production of rich media, particularly within sales and marketing organizations, including:

Standardized Templates and File Formats

Enable your team to prepare digital files for encoding even before they are created. This standardization improves the ease of document search and retrieval.

Encoding, Indexing and Metadata

Simplify the search for assets, and enables the identification of digital content through attributes and identifiers that create an index that groups assets via common tags to improve searchability.

Version Controls

Ensure that only the latest, most up-to-date assets are accessed, utilized and carried forward for review and use.

Governance and Permissions Monitoring

Protects organizational assets from theft, accidental corruption, or erasure.

Asset Auditing

Ensures an organization’s technology, digital assets and processes comply with company regulations.

Why is Digital Asset Management Important

As your business grows, the number of media files and digital assets you need to build your brand and win more business will only increase. The larger your media library, the harder it becomes to maintain brand consistency, and disseminate a clear and purposeful message to staff, clients, and partners.

In other words, the more digital assets you have, the harder it becomes to present a consistent brand image to the world. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your digital assets and bring order to your media library.

Common Digital Asset Management Challenges and How To Solve Them

Regardless of industry, business type or market segment, if you fail to manage your digital assets, it will affect your bottom line. Fortunately, DAM systems like OpenAsset are designed with the user in mind. That user-centric approach enables your team with the capabilities they need to overcome common challenges, like:

Limited Access to Digital Assets

If you’re not using a DAM, then chances are that your digital assets are being utilized incorrectly by the wrong people. DAM systems like OpenAsset enable your team with a centralized solution and established workflows to regain control over digital assets, manage access and streamline the approval process.

Misallocation of Time and Budget

If your team wastes precious time searching for mislabeled assets, that’s time lost that they could be spending focused on growing and scaling your business. Empower them with a centralized platform that makes the organization, monitoring, and maintenance of every asset in your ecosystem easy and efficient.

Disconnected Workforce

DAM systems enable you to break down silos and enhance communications across your organization by providing a unified platform designed to boost collaboration, and enable teams to democratize assets, create agile workflows, and improve consistency across all channels.

Failing Brand Standards

Address failing brand standards by integrating with a DAM that serves as a single source of truth for all brand assets, improves information security and enables teams to store, organize, share, search, and grow their digital library.

DAM Use Cases and Applications: Who Needs Digital Asset Management

From architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), to real estate, marketing, manufacturing and design, the use cases for digital asset management software are numerous and cover a range of different industries, including:


Technology companies use DAM in many different departments, often across multiple locations to manage employee records; maintain brand consistency, and store preferred vendor contact details, proprietary product design, development plans, planning materials, images and more.


Construction companies utilize DAM to manage their projects; create RFP responses and foster collaboration between departments, subject matter experts and the many contractors and subcontractors that they deal with on a daily basis.


Successful engineering firms use DAM to ensure the right formats are utilized in the promotion of special projects, and make content easily accessible to partners, agencies, and creatives.


Architecture firms utilize DAM software to foster collaboration and improve the workflows that enable them to showcase the expertise, skill and passion of their architects, as well as the quality and success of completed projects.


A Digital Asset Management can support you and your team in the design process as a centralized work tool to keep track of all your digital assets. Not only as a tool for storing assets, but as a professional work tool for project management.


A digital asset management system gives manufacturers and their partners a single-source-of-truth for all their brand material. With a library that enables search by SKU, product ID and more, manufacturers are able to empower their distribution channels and strengthen their brand.


As part of an overall marketing operations management strategy, digital asset management helps corporate marketing departments centrally manage creative assets from production to on-demand distribution across the enterprise.

Retail and eCommerce

Digital asset management helps retailers to better manage the creation and distribution of their brand materials across each department, team and partner. From eCommerce to in-store signage, a DAM ensures that every channel remains consistent and on-brand.


A key concern for nonprofits is often the time they waste trying to manage their marketing material across multiple hard drives and personal computers, with a majority of their employees working off-site. A DAM provides a central point of access for assets no matter where employees or volunteers are working.

Hotels and Resorts

With various locations, chains and products, managing a hospitality enterprise can be difficult. Hotels & resorts benefit from a DAM that allows their collection to grow at a rapid rate and enables global employees to access digital assets when they need them.


In tourism, employees typically work with agencies and partners across geographical boundaries and use a DAM to consolidate scattered and siloed collections. Tourism boards also use a DAM as an online hub to help drive customer engagement and encourage user-generated content.


A common problem that most franchises face is making on-brand material instantly available to their franchisees. With a DAM in place, each item in the system is subject to controls and permissions set up by an admin, which ensures that users across all franchise locations have access to up-to-date collateral that’s relevant to their location.

Local Government

While governments suffer from common DAM problems, they absolutely cannot risk assets being improperly shared with unauthorized audience members. With a DAM built on security-forward cloud platforms, governments can be at ease that their private digital files are stored in a safe and secure manner.

Sales and Business Development

A digital asset management solution ensures that your sales team gains unlimited access to the latest marketing collateral. This improves their capacity to provide new and existing clients with the necessary materials promptly.

RFP and Proposal Writing

The best proposals utilize vibrant visuals like charts, videos, graphics and project-photography to prove to the reader that your business has a complete understanding of the project and how best to complete it. Fortunately, digital asset management solutions provide the framework you need to manage these multimedia assets.

What is the Difference Between a DAM System and DAM Software

There is no difference between a digital asset management (DAM) system and DAM software. Alternative names for digital asset management systems and related software include:

  • Media Asset Management (MAM)
  • Rich Media Asset Management
  • Enterprise Media Management
  • Image Management Software
  • Marketing Asset Management
  • Brand Asset Management (BAM)

PIM vs. Digital Asset Management (DAM)

Though similar in process and functionality, digital asset management (DAM) systems and product information management (PIM) software offer value to business users in different ways.

Where a DAM system enables your team to manage digital assets such as images, logos and videos related to your products, A PIM system enables your team to store, manage and distribute product related information (SKUs, sales data, delivery info) across your sales channels, and publish that information onto online stores and marketplaces.

What is The Difference Between a CMS and a DAM

The primary difference between a content management system (CMS) and a digital asset management system (DAM) is the type of asset that they manage. Where a digital asset management system enables users to search and utilize media assets like images, videos and graphics, a content management system enables users to publish content like landing pages and blog posts to the internet.

In other words, DAM software enables your team with the workflows they need to create the content that your CMS publishes to the internet. Like a toolbox, DAM software enables your team to organize the tools (images, videos, PDFs, etc) they use to produce amazing work.

For more information on Digital Asset Management and the many tools it provides, check out What is DAM and why does it matter in AEC?

Google Drive vs. Digital Asset Management

Comparing Google Drive, Dropbox and similar cloud-based storage systems to a digital asset management solution is like comparing a bucket to a toolbox. One is a simple, multipurpose storage implement that can be used to hold material. The other is a purpose-built organization system that enables your team with quick and easy access to the tools they need, precisely when they need them.

What is The Difference Between a MAM and a DAM

The primary difference between a media asset management (MAM) system and a digital asset management solution is the type of media that they manage. Where a DAM system enables your team to find, use, and share things like images, graphics, and similar online assets, a media asset management system helps teams create and manage video content in a video production workflow.

Open Source Digital Asset Management

Open source DAM refers to software whose source code is freely available to the public, with members of the user community able to develop new functionality and integrations independent of the vendor.

By contrast, the license for proprietary software is restricted, with updates and bug fixes rolled out periodically by the vendor. By definition, open source software must be freely available and offer free redistribution.

Open source software users are advised to use caution, as modifications made to open source software are often unsupported by the vendor, which means you’ll need to invest in a larger internal DAM team than you would with proprietary software.

What Are The Best Digital Asset Management Tools

Though many digital asset management tools offer broad appeal, some are specially designed for use in a specific industry or subsegment, such as architecture, engineering and construction.

Specially designed for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) brands, OpenAsset is the only project-based digital asset management system, and the best way to help your team build something bigger.

How to Choose a Digital Asset Management Solution

A well-chosen DAM system can save your organization valuable time and resources, improve workflow efficiency, and enhance the overall management of your digital assets. To help you make an informed decision, review these key considerations when choosing a DAM solution.


Why Integrations Matter

Integrations are vital for a seamless workflow in your organization. A DAM system should integrate with other tools and software you already use, such as content management systems, design software, project management platforms, and e-commerce solutions. This ensures that your team can access and use digital assets within their preferred working environment, minimizing disruptions and boosting productivity.


  • Compatibility: Ensure the DAM solution integrates with your existing software and tools.
  • APIs: Evaluate the availability and flexibility of application programming interfaces (APIs) for custom integrations.
  • Automation: Look for automation capabilities to streamline asset management processes.


Balancing Access and Control

Security is a top priority when it comes to managing digital assets. You need to safeguard your content while allowing authorized users to access and work with it.

Key Aspects:

  • Rights Management: The DAM system should support robust rights management, allowing you to define user roles and permissions, restrict access to sensitive content, and track changes.
  • Permissions Settings: Fine-tune access controls with granular permissions, ensuring that only the right people can edit, download, or share assets.
  • Encryption: Make sure the DAM system offers data encryption, both in transit and at rest, to protect your assets from unauthorized access.


Efficient Asset Discovery

An effective search feature is essential for finding the right assets quickly, saving time, and preventing frustration among users.

Factors to Consider:

  • Search Intuitiveness: The DAM solution should offer an intuitive search interface, making it easy for users to locate assets without extensive training.
  • Search Metadata: Assess the system’s ability to handle metadata, keywords, and tags for accurate asset identification.
  • Search and Retrieval: Speed and precision in searching are critical. A good DAM system will offer a variety of search options, including text search, filters, and advanced search capabilities.

Ease of Use/User Adoption

User-Centric Design

User adoption is a crucial factor in the success of your DAM system. The solution should be user-friendly, reducing the learning curve for your team.


  • Usability: Look for an intuitive interface that requires minimal training for users.
  • User Onboarding: Ensure the DAM provider offers training and resources for easy onboarding.
  • Support and Updates: Check for ongoing support and updates to address user feedback and improve the user experience.

Asset Lifecycle

End-to-End Asset Management

DAM solutions should support the entire lifecycle of digital assets, from creation and uploading to archiving and eventual retirement.


  • File Types: Ensure compatibility with various file types, including images, videos, and documents.
  • Version Control: Track asset versions, edits, and changes.
  • Archiving and Deletion: Manage the retention and disposal of assets in compliance with legal requirements.

Access/User Access

Anytime, Anywhere Access

Remote work and distributed teams require DAM solutions that offer easy, secure access to digital assets from anywhere.

Key Aspects:

  • Cloud Accessibility: Opt for cloud-based solutions to enable remote access.
  • Mobile Accessibility: Verify that the DAM system is mobile-responsive for users on the go.
  • Offline Access: Consider how assets can be accessed and used when not connected to the internet.

Know Your Needs

Align with Stakeholders

Before making a decision, thoroughly understand your organization’s specific requirements. Collaborate with key stakeholders to define your DAM system needs.


  • Needs Assessment: Identify the exact features and capabilities your organization requires.
  • Budget Constraints: Consider budget limitations and choose a solution that offers the best value for your investment.
  • Scalability: Ensure the DAM system can grow with your organization’s needs.

Choosing the right Digital Asset Management solution is a significant decision that can greatly impact your organization’s workflow and efficiency. By carefully considering integration capabilities, security, search functionality, user-friendliness, asset lifecycle support, user access, and aligning your needs with stakeholders, you can find a DAM solution that not only manages your digital assets effectively but also empowers your team to work more efficiently and creatively.

How Much Does Digital Asset Management (DAM) Software Cost

The one-year cost of most digital asset management software will range from less than $350 to upwards of $250,000. Pricing depends on a variety of factors, including number of users, amount of storage, advanced features, brand reputation, implementation fees, customization, services, and other setup considerations.

Those functional differences can add up to create a wide variety of prices. While the range of prices and options are vast, the average price of digital asset management software is closer to $52,000 per year. For software that is managed on the customer’s own servers (non-hosted), the average one-year cost of a DAM climbs to around $72,000.

To learn more about DAM pricing, or to speak to a DAM expert, contact OpenAsset to be connected with a customer support representative. They will answer all of your questions and make sure you have the information you need to make an informed decision.

When Do I Need To Invest In A DAM

If your team wastes time and money searching for images, then it’s time to invest in a digital asset management solution. If it takes too much time, resources and effort to answer RFPs and create proposals, then it’s time to invest in a digital asset management solution.

In fact, any brand looking to increase efficiency, maintain brand consistency and maximize the effectiveness of their team would benefit from the use of a DAM solution. That’s why it’s so important that you invest in DAM today, because the longer you wait, the harder it becomes for your team to manage the ever-growing library of digital assets they use each day.

How To Measure Digital Asset Management ROI

The ROI of employing a digital asset management solution will vary among organizations. To estimate your ROI, you must first understand how digital asset management is likely to impact your people, your brand, and your assets. Thus, the formula for calculating the ROI of a DAM is: savings on asset spend + added value to your brand — cost of your DAM solution = ROI.

Fortunately, you don’t have to work out the math on that calculation because we can do it for you. Simply punch in your information into our digital asset management ROI calculator to see how much you’re likely to save by investing in DAM.

Though digital asset management has broad appeal across a range of industries, different businesses utilize DAM systems differently. Fortunately, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with Digital Asset Management (DAM) has all the information you need to determine which kind of digital asset management system is right for you.

We hope this guide on What is Digital Asset Management was helpful. As you learn about digital asset management, remember that there are a lot of different DAM solutions out there, but only one that is perfect for your team.

There is no need to settle for clunky, time-consuming legacy software, because the best DAM solutions combine power, efficiency and ease-of-use. Contact OpenAsset today to schedule a demo of the only DAM solution designed specifically for firms in the built world.