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DAM ROI: The Business Case for DAM

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Blog header graphic: DAM ROI - The Business Case for DAM.


If you manage content, brand, or marketing operations you have a wide range of business needs for using digital asset management (DAM) software. Sometimes it can be hard to justify the new or continued investment in technology, but the return on investment (ROI) for DAM is there. It can help you streamline content operations, protect your brand, and overcome e-commerce content challenges.

Of course, everyone knows money will be saved if you can “overcome content challenges,” but how much? You need to be able to calculate the ROI for your DAM investment to show how it supports your strategic initiatives. Before we show you a few ways to calculate ROI for DAM, let’s start by building a business case. 

How to build a digital asset management business case

Let’s sync up on a common understanding of the business case for DAM.

DAM software and work management, when applied correctly and consistently, will help your business by:

    • Increasing marketing efficiency and effectiveness
    • Connecting you with revenue opportunities faster
    • Improving brand consistency
    • Increasing your brand equity


Securing, controlling, and appropriately using your visual content (digital assets) makes it a “vehicle” that drives connections with customers and revenue. In other words, with the help of a DAM system, you can streamline work management, which in turn helps you create the vehicles (aka visual content) that connect you with revenue opportunities, faster.

Global companies like Hootsuite use DAM software to power their brand management. With a central source for all their brand assets, Hootsuite has eliminated bottlenecks and redundancies in their workflows and increased brand consistency. In the last 12 months, they’ve tracked 287k+ asset views from their blog, enabled 14k+ downloads from their brand content portal, and captured 575k+ views from embedded assets.

Elsevier is another company that’s streamlined their global marketing process with the help of their DAM solution. It allowed them to realize immediate ROI by consolidating several marketing technology (martech) solutions, and over 12 months, their embedded digital assets have had 16+ million views and 88k downloads.

Whether your business case involves marketing, company-wide asset management, or e-commerce product content, you can use DAM as a foundation for getting a return on your martech investment.

DAM foundations

The primary features and functions of DAM systems help teams elevate the quality and consistency of their work, and create brand experiences that resonate with core audiences.

A DAM solution serves as the content marketing hub, or central source of truth for the creation, management, and distribution of your visual content. And this centralization is critical to achieving your highest return on content. Without this foundation, you can have content chaos. 

We’ve identified five key functional areas that drive return on content. Let’s examine each a little more closely.

    • Governance. User roles and access controls (via permissions) drive appropriate use and adoption. This allows you to ensure only the right assets are accessible to the right people, at the right time. This core function of content management aids and supports scalable business growth.
    • Metadata and taxonomy. These structures help you organize, find, and discover your best, most relevant — and most valuable — content, across your organization. Metadata describes content for search and searchability (and in turn reuse), defines appropriate use, and protects from misuse, abuse, and exposure to liability — from rights management to release and expiration controls.
    • Automatic processing. This includes on-the-fly file conversions that allow users to convert assets to other file formats without the help of the creative team. This feature also drives content repurposing.
    • Create once, publish everywhere (COPE). Embed links allow you to publish an updated version of an asset everywhere it lives across digital channels and websites, instantly. And the power of this automation is amplified when your DAM system (backed by a global, Amazon-powered Content Delivery Network CDN) is integrated with other martech tools!
    • Analytics. Analytics tools help identify your best-performing content across all channels — which is a direct line to DAM ROI. After all, understanding what your internal and external audiences want is priceless.


Each of these functional areas can provide tremendous ROI to your organization, making DAM software your indispensable content marketing hub.

Now, let’s get into some ways you can calculate DAM ROI. 

The importance of DAM ROI

Part of a functioning digital asset management (DAM) strategy at any organization is proving its value to the company. Martech is a big investment and you need to be able to gather, understand, and present ROI metrics for your DAM investment. Don’t worry, it’s possible. Whether you’re producing content for 10,000 SKUs a year or managing a global brand with strict visual requirements, there’s a model to show the value you’re creating. 

Here are some of the most important factors in calculating DAM ROI, no matter what your business case is. These will help you build a case for an initial DAM investment and along on your DAM journey.

How to calculate DAM ROI

Content creation entails valuable resources in terms of time and talent, and if you’re not using a DAM solution it’s likely costing you money. You might know this intrinsically, but you need to justify a DAM investment. We’ve worked with over 700 brands around the globe to understand DAM business cases and investments in many industries. Here are some of the approaches we use to calculate ROI for DAM.

1. Search and share time savings

Our first model asks you to consider the time disruption your graphic designers and marketers experience by constantly being asked to find, gather, and send visual content (digital assets) to internal and external stakeholders.

This is a simple calculation. For example, let’s say you have two designers that each spend an hour a day searching for and sharing content. At the average hourly rate of $25, that adds up to $13,000 wasted annually because your teams (and external partners) don’t have a central portal to go to and help themselves.

Now imagine how many other people are spending their time looking for digital assets. Apply this calculation to any position or department and you’ll start to see how much time and money can be saved when you give people a content portal that expedites content distribution. 

2. Asset fulfillment savings

This next model builds on the previous concept by looking at what you would have spent had you not had a self-serve content hub.

We’ve found that the average mid-size enterprise customer has about 60,000 asset downloads per year.

Our customers have told us it took an average of four minutes (at best) to fulfill one asset request “the old way,” prior to having a DAM system in place. Crunching the numbers, that equates to 4,000 hours spent fulfilling requests at the “pre-DAM” rate. And this doesn’t count those hard-to-find assets that take hours to locate on somebody’s local hard drive or Dropbox account.

In this case, using DAM software provides an average salary savings of over $100,000.

You could also use this exercise to demonstrate that with DAM, the number of downloads and uses far exceeds what could be accomplished before.

3. Asset creation and repurposing savings

We’ve worked with a lot of organizations, and nobody has ever told us they like to recreate visual content that has been lost or misplaced.

So, think about the average cost of a photo or video shoot — including models, retouching, production, and travel — all the things that add up to the total estimated value of individual assets (based solely on creation cost). Say $300.

If you take a conservative estimate of losing one file a week, that’s $15,000 that could be saved annually if you had a safe, secure access point for your existing work and creative investments.

In addition, we’re actively investigating how our customers are valuing their visual content based on revenue contributions. For instance, a mix of 1,000 campaign assets in a collection can easily contribute to campaign-driven sales of $300,000. Those are digital assets you don’t want to lose!

Making your case for DAM

With the information in this article, you can make a strong and detailed case for DAM. Start with the business case. Outline the foundational DAM functionality. And calculate potential ROI from the three approaches above.

Want some more help calculating your DAM ROI? We’ve assembled a DAM ROI slide deck from our experience helping hundreds of companies calculate their return on their digital asset management investment. Download it today

Note: This article was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated to remain current.

Topics: DAM

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