5 Things Every Retailer Should Know About Digital Asset Management
One advantage of digitization is that company processes have become leaner and more accessible thanks to new tools and innovations. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always apply to marketing, which consists of many small activities that add exponentially to a large amount of work. Often, these processes include the management of assets needed to create printed or digital marketing materials. In modern marketing, some time-consuming manual work has been reduced to a minimum. But at the same time, the number of digital assets for organizations to manage grew disproportionately.
Ever since, marketing and advertising departments have struggled to keep track of all those assets, giving birth to a new software genre, Digital Asset Management or DAM. With multiple enterprise DAM systems to choose from, plus many other customized versions available, it’s time to list the five most important things a retail marketing and advertising professional needs to know about DAM.
- It’s All About the Metadata
Assets in a DAM system are not limited to photographic images and illustrations. There are also text descriptions and customer reviews for each product, not to mention videos, audio, and other media used in a campaign. With all that data, the problem is finding the right asset or the version you need in time to create a deadline-critical ad or promotion. Studies have found that searching for the right image can consume 20 to 30 percent of a designer’s time!
Retailers must have ways to deal with product-related assets from outside sources so that the identifiers and keywords are where designers need to find them.
The way to recoup that lost time is to use a DAM with a consistent and easy-to-use metadata framework – the data about the data – and a robust search engine to help users find what they need. Every object must have consistent identifiers, keywords, version numbers, and other easily accessible information to speed up the design and production process and avoid costly errors.
The metadata used by a DAM also must be consistent with that of other data sources. Retailers, in particular, must have ways to deal with product-related assets from manufacturers and outside agencies so that the identifiers and keywords are all in the places designers need to find them.
- No DAM Is an Island
Over the past decade, DAM systems (and other aspects of enterprise computing) have moved out of local data networks and into the cloud. This trend has highlighted the importance of connectivity between multiple data sources. For retailers, in particular, data from a DAM must be connected practically to a Product Information Management or PIM system, as well as other, sometimes proprietary, pricing, inventory, and logistics databases. Without that connection, creating a promotional piece about a single product will take far too long – much less a catalog or mobile app promotion for multiple products.
The first step in connecting all these data sources is a consistent metadata strategy, as noted above. But the connected DAM, PIM, and other databases must also have a meaningful, efficient workflow for using those assets and data in a promotional campaign. Whether the result is a printed catalog, a website, or populating a mobile app, the data must be used effectively by marketing and advertising planners, designers, and producers.
One such framework for wrangling all these data sources is Comosoft’s LAGO system. By making all the product data available, at any stage of the advertising planning and production process—no matter where the data reside – LAGO can streamlining the entire multichannel marketing process. This has been demonstrated at Lowe’s and many other large retail operations.
- Leveraging DAM Workflow
In large retail organizations, there are many levels of authority to create, find, update, and replace assets in a DAM system. Think of each asset as having a true lifecycle, from its creation through multiple revisions and eventually obsolescence. At any point, marketing and advertising professionals may need to find a particular asset and any of its related data points to promote one product, suggest related products, and deepen the retailer’s connection with individual shopping behavior.
To do this effectively requires a comprehensive and effective approach to users and permissions. Anyone may identify an error in the data, but correcting it requires approval and accountability. A good DAM system must make it easy for the right people to act and do so without undue delay or complications. When the data changes, such as introducing a new product photo, the DAM system must also have the means to update all the related media without incurring extra review and approval cycles.
A good DAM system must make it easy for the right people to act and do so without undue delay or complications.
Again, Comosoft’s LAGO is especially powerful when it comes to keeping DAM and related workflows moving smoothly. Permissions for users and groups are managed uniformly across all data and workflow processes. In addition, when something in the DAM system is updated or modified, it is automatically updated in the InDesign production file thanks to LAGO’s two-way workflow. For example, suppose a designer finds an erroneous data element. In that case, they can easily communicate that to someone with the authority to correct the issue globally—or allow a local override.
- Maintaining Brand Identity
One of the strengths of DAM is its ability to enforce brand consistency. Brand-critical elements such as logos can be “locked” in their most current, approved form. Retailers must not only use their own brand elements consistently and make sure to correctly use manufacturers’ logos and product images in every campaign and channel. A well-organized DAM system will always provide the most current version of such assets and restrict access to older versions.
A well-organized DAM system must provide the most current version of brand assets and restrict access to older versions.
LAGO takes that further, by maintaining InDesign templates with all the approved brand elements (images, illustrations, and text) in their originally designed configuration. As a result, designers are free to do their thing elsewhere on the page, creating compelling displays of the retailer’s featured products, but they cannot override the well-planned brand aspects of the piece. Such centralized control is critical for retailers with multiple locations, and creative channels spanning both internal and external teams.
- Automation That Works
With the explosion of digital assets and the channels they use, every retailer must find ways to automat design and production wherever possible while leaving designers free to create fresh and compelling work. An integrated DAM-PIM-production workflow offers many such opportunities, such as assigning assets to other objects based on rules or an asset’s data attributes. By automating such steps in a production process, advertising and marketing departments can save on manual labor and free up valuable time for more creative work.
Again, LAGO has made great strides in this area. For example, once a campaign has been devised using a data-connected whiteboard process, the selected product’s data are automatically placed in an InDesign template, giving the designer more time to finesse and improve the piece. Multiple regional versions of a single piece are also easy to create, automatically re-using the base elements and letting the designer focus on customization.
Giving DAM Its Due
Digital Asset Management systems are far more than just advanced cloud storage drives. DAM and its allied data sources can connect multiple departments to help retail marketing production become faster, more accurate, and far more efficient. In this age of multichannel-everything, no competitive retailer can afford to be without this advantage. All it takes is a workflow that truly understands the power of integrated data.