As a business, a vendor/partner and a professional service, creative agencies face a unique set of challenges serving their clients. The computer revolution and DIY communications culture have many agencies scrambling for differentiation to avoid being commoditized. When turn around is everything to customers, reducing time to market can be a real competitive advantage.
The focus of an agency’s offering may range from advertising or branding to marketing or interactive design, but one thing they all share is the desire to create. And, create they do. Files upon files are churned out for mood boards, design concepts, new business pitches, client presentations, and ad campaigns. These digital files – or assets – range from page layouts, logos, photos, audio files, and videos at resolutions for both print and web. Storing all these assets in an organized way is no easy task and sharing them efficiently and effectively can be even more daunting.
I recently spoke with someone responsible for digital asset management at a Chicago-based agency about the value digital asset management can bring to creative agencies. He’s been with his agency nearly a decade and witnessed the transistion of pre-press production to premedia and digital asset management.
When asked what events triggered the need for a DAM system, he painted a familiar picture of the pain experienced at most organizations before a move is made to DAM.
“We had a delivery system for our global facilities — in the conventional method — of our global creative. Chicago was the hub for our main clients. There was a need to eliminate errors and the time to market and create a more economical distribution to the client. We were redistributing assets globally for advertisement throughout the world.”
“There were shipment problems and delays in getting files to other countries. The cost for shipping was high and the things our clients thought they were getting, and what they actually got, weren’t matching up. We thought an Internet-based system would eliminate a lot of the problems. We wanted to try to save money for our clients. In doing so, we could get files to the client better. We proposed the DAM (system) to the client because they were going to pay for it, but realized that in a short time they could see the ROI: time saved and lower cost for distribution. And, what they see on the site is what they get.”
Of course, implementing a DAM system is easier said than done. You can spend a lot of money on a hefty DAM system, but it won’t change a thing if no one uses it. Here are three must-haves for successful adoption of digital asset management at a creative agency.
1. Assign a DAM champion and get buy-in
“First, you need a DAM champion – the person who leads the initiative and follows it through to completion. They need to lead the change in process and staff to make sure there’s enough training for people to adopt. It’s a big responsibility. And, they are key in getting buy-in from the people using the system. For development of the system to function correctly, when it is being set-up, the people who will put assets in and the people using it really need to be involved in the creation of the system. Especially the end user. You need more input from these people to get their buy in and make sure everyone will use it.”
2. Track the lifecycle of each asset
“You also need to think about the flow of information that follows an asset. It’s important to parallel how that asset is related to different projects through its lifespan. We have a lot of job numbers that affect the lifecycle of an asset. The assets transition from different departments with different job numbers. A photo shoot that has usage rights doesn’t necessarily translate that way to the production department. Determining the streamline of information that goes with the asset as it goes through its phases of development – from proposal to creative to fulfillment to the DAM – and applying that to the asset in the final stages at the end is essential. The DAM system is where all the metadata gets applied.”
3. Stay focused on change
“The big one is keeping an eye on change. Change management is critical for the future of DAM. As things have grown over the past ten years, now we store pitches, manuscripts, etc. It’s not just photos and videos anymore. Keep thinking about the future of that with your DAM system — how you ingest assets and distribute them to the end user. Think about applications that would sit on top of a DAM system."
"For example, HR. You could track the hours associated with a job and cost associated with a job in addition to the asset."
"In publishing, where it can publish directly to social networks, client sites, and your own business sites. A dashboard where your executives can learn what’s going on with the system and make educated guesses about where to go next."
To echo my opening position, our agency friend agreed that digital asset management brings big benefits to creative agencies.
“The biggest return we see from our DAM is turnaround time and accessibility to the assets. Not only as a repository, but for the work in progress, too. If we have three images for packaging, they can then be placed in an ad. We may have an earlier approval date for the ad itself, but it can be distributed to other media like the Internet. We don’t have to wait until the ad is approved before the product shot can be distributed. Multimedia assets can be moved forward and turnaround times get faster. This reduces time to market. For our major clients who have information that is timely, it’s crucial. One client won an award for customer service and needed to turn around ads quickly that shared that information to validate their services. It gave them a competitive advantage."
"The ability to get assets to market quicker is probably the biggest challenge to agencies right now. Getting things out on the market as soon as possible is a big benefit to agency clients.”
Learn more about the benefits of DAM to creative agencies.
If you’d like to talk about your needs for DAM, contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.