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Digital Asset Management for Digital Agencies: The Tool to Have

While all businesses are about digital assets (videos, pictures, photos) few of them are as about assets as agencies. For all of the above, digital assets are the lifeblood of design, marketing, post-production, or video production.

With the numerous clients, the common issues of improper asset management multiply. Even organizations that only care about in-house things can run into such issues as:

  • Problems finding the right assets at the right time.
  • Struggles with distributing assets to third-party stakeholders.
  • Lack of a good way to keep assets and feedback on them in the same place.
  • Privacy concerns and the need to restrict access to certain assets from the general public

Where an organization will have 1,000 assets, an agency might have 10,000. Quite an ordeal to properly juggle all assets and tasks without eating into profitability. And it’s not like, adding “spent 2 hours looking for your video because our digital library is a mess” is something that you can put on the itemized bill.

So, the answer to these problems comes with digital asset management (DAM) - a specialized software meant to be the one place of truth for all your digital asset needs. And in today’s article, we’ll talk about the benefits that DAM brings to your agencies and how.

Version Control

It would be a miracle if the first iteration of any asset would have been immediately finalized. But those are just dreams, and revisioning and modifications are an inevitability.

The standard workflow when it comes to the asset revisions is as expected and as simple as you’d think it is: you have one folder (either local or cloud-based) that has all versions of an image with names such as “RE_final”, “Revision”, “Final_submission.”

Unsurprisingly, when this folder grows to even a couple of dozens of variants it becomes impossible to track which version has been approved (because it’s not always the last one) and what comments have been left by you and/or by your clients.

Digital asset management simplifies this process by making all revisions accessible from a single thumbnail.

Below is the screenshot of what it looks like.

Whenever you open an asset’s info panel, you can open its comment section which also doubles as revision tracking. You can see what everyone thinks about the asset, and bring up and visually compare any past revision just by clicking on the one that you want.

Side-by-side version control helps you ensure that your manufacturing marketing assets look exactly as you need them to

So, instead of having a mess, you have a linear and straightforward way to see how the asset changed from its first iteration to the final.

Keeping Track of All Assets

When we’re talking about agency work, it’s not only about the number of assets but their types. Let’s take a video as an example. Besides the video itself, you might have such associated assets:

  • Project brief
  • Requirements
  • Contract
  • Work schedule
  • Invoices
  • Licenses to purchase photos
  • Stock images (and associated license)
  • Contracts with models (wherever applicable)

Herein comes the question of how to organize all these assets. Do you just put everything into one big folder? Root folder for a project and then nested folders for each specific document? Well, the last option seems like a more “neat” one but when can actually be a pain to navigate. Plus, it doesn’t offer a glance value - you can’t just look at the folder (or the tree of multiples) and say “Yep, everything seems in order, we’re good to go.”

Digital asset management for agencies has a few ways in which it can make this conundrum easier. On one hand, there is metadata. Using keywords or custom fields, you can tag all relevant assets as those related to the client (e.g. Client_1).

So next time you’re going to use the search function to search for Client_1, it will bring up all associated assets.

Alternatively, you can depend on Linked Assets. When you link assets together, you can freely switch between them through the asset’s info panel. So, if there’s anything missing, you have an easy way of identifying what is lacking.

Distributing Assets to Third-Parties and Clients

This is time for the personal anecdote. Last year, Pics.io decided to launch a series of videos describing our product’s features. Not having our in-house video team, we relied on a video production agency to do the legwork for us.

Naturally, this kind of process necessitated a lot of back and forth. We would send the script and requirements, the agency would send us the work-in-progress, and we would exchange feedback, rinse & repeat.

What made this process easier than it might have been was our own product! We have this thing called Websites, interactive web portals that let you share assets with people outside of your organization.

So, whenever we wanted to upload new assets for our agency, we would just do it inside our collection that we’ve publicly hosted as a website. And, since it acts as a mini-DAM in functionality, we could exchange comments and feedback directly through there. Basically, we’ve completely sidelined this awkward combination of Dropbox + Slack, where you send files through one channel but then you have to communicate through another, inadvertently introducing confusion and the endless need to cross-reference two communication channels.

After we’ve agreed upon something with our colleagues, they then could send the revised assets directly to us using Inboxes. Think about inboxes like WeTransfer or Dropbox but instead of some third-party server, people would be uploading files directly to you, and then you can instantly transfer them to whatever collection you need without re-uploading things.

The Website + Inbox combination streamlines the asset delivery process so that you can focus on creativity.

Permission & Roles Management

It’s not rare for agencies to work with sensitive information. Whether it’s something like clients’ information or even stock assets that are licensed on per case basis, there are things that should be distributed only by discretion.

In a traditional environment, this means a lot of password-protected folders and a lot of questions like “Hey, can I use this?” Inevitably, one thing or another slips through the crack and you have a little bit of PR (or worse, legal) storm coming in your direction because someone used something that they shouldn’t have.

DAM’s role & permission management makes this process a little bit straightforward. It doesn’t require any passwords or arcane knowledge and is accomplished through toggles - for each role, and then, for each collection.

So, say, you have a role in your organization that is Social Media Manager. You can then just say: “Well, there’s never a scenario when this person is going to need to access RAW, work-in-progress files” so you can just hide them from the said person completely.

For stock assets that require licensing, you can likewise, either completely hide these assets or you can just mark them as restricted. With restricted assets, whenever a user wants to do something with them (like a download), a customizable message will pop-up asking if they really know what they’re doing with it or maybe they need to clear a license for this one.

How to Get Started with Digital Asset Management for Digital Agencies?

Considering that all modern DAMs are completely cloud-based, the process is as straightforward as signing up for a trial (or subscribing to a plan), and then…well, start using it.

Sure, you might want to book a free demo or a workshop training to onboard quicker but there is no need to install anything or check for compatibility issues.

Yet, with Pics.io the process is even more simple than with the competition. Why? Well, let’s outline a few points:

Google Drive Integration for Digital Agencies

Pics.io is the only digital asset management solution on the market that offers direct integration with Google Drive. This means that you don’t need to transfer your files anywhere or uproot your entire infrastructure just to use DAM. In the case of using Google Drive integration, Pics.io will act as a wrapper, an interface through which you’ll get to interact with assets in your digital library.

In addition to the convenience, this means there’s no vendor lock. If you ever decide to stop using Pics.io, your assets won’t be “held hostage” by us and you can decouple as easy as you’ve started using it!

For those without either storage, check out Amazon S3 vs Google Drive article to help you decide which one is the better fit for your organization.

Migrations from Dropbox, Google Drive, S3, and Others

In case you want to start using our storage, we also have experience migrating your existing files from any major storage option that you might be using at the moment. Any existing metadata will be transferred and maintained as well.

Transparent Pricing

All of our prices are publicly available on our pricing page. How’s this an advantage? Well, a lot of the time, DAM vendors opt to hide their pricing behind a sales call, meaning that you’ll need to spend time talking with each vendor, trying to figure out how much you’ll end up paying.

It’s certainly a bummer to spend time trialing a solution and then realize that it’s just not the right fit for you. With our pricing, you don’t get a cat in the bag and can instantly assess if our price-to-feature offering is worth your time and effort.

It’s certainly a bummer to spend time trialing a solution and then realize that it’s just not the right fit for you. With our pricing, you don’t get a cat in the bag and can instantly assess if our price-to-feature offering is worth your time and effort.

We actually have a full-feature article on DAM pricing and how vendors decide the cost of their products, so make sure you check it out if you want to have an in-depth look at the topic.

Free Onboarding Training for Existing Clients

Even though we are always improving on our UI/UX to make work with DAm as intuitive as possible, content taxonomy & metadata management might still be a lot to take on, especially for companies that have never seriously considered it in the past.

It’s not a rare sight for us to see new users that have only a broad idea of how to use DAM and then they get overwhelmed with features and end up not using its functionality at all.

Having a curated workshop, where you outline your needs, allows our customer success managers to propose workflows you might follow to get the results you need.

Free Blueprint to Get You Started

To help you get, we’re also offering this sample workflow and DAM structure that you can adapt to your needs whenever you start using our (or others DAM). The first few parts aren’t even DAM exclusive and can be replicated even with something as basic as Google Drive workflow, but you’ll obviously get the best results with digital asset management.

DAM structure

  • Projects
    • Proctor & Gamble
      • Colgate Toothpaste Mint Campaign
        • Documentation
          • Contract and other agreements
          • Model releases
          • Invoices
          • Licenses for stock assets
          • Brand Guidelines
        • In Progress Assets
        • Review
        • Done
        • Assets portal. Final deliverables, including a how-to guide, list of keywords that client can search by, upload, download, share, comment, etc.

In the configuration of this folder, your clients have access to the Assets portal where they can see only approved and correct final project deliverables, but you can also use it as a sharing site where clients can see interim versions and comment on them.

The documentation folder is restricted to only a project manager. In Progress is open for upload to any team member. Review is accessible to only art directors or other positions that make decisions to approve or reject a variant. Done is for all teammates to view. The Assets portal is password protected to prevent unwanted visitors from seeing the content.

Workflow in the DAM

Role

Function

Permissions

Workflow

DAM manager 

  • Organize assets in folders; 

  • Add tags to assets

  • Set access & permission rights

  • Create presets for filter and search

  • Admin

  • Create collections structure

  • Upload assets to collections (or sync from GDrive)

  • Add tags to assets (in bulk or one-by-one) 

  • Assign permissions for access to different collections

  • Create search and filter presets

  • Create download presets.

  • Check team’s activity in audit trail - archive unused and outdated assets.

  • Create and maintain keywords/tags naming convention and ensure correct usage.

Client


  • Search

  • View

  • Download

  • Comment

  • Upload

  • Log in

  • Search for assets

  • Scroll in a catalog view

  • Select several assets

  • Download

Designer/Agency contractor

  • Make new designs by repurposing existing assets from previous campaigns or simply brand assets

  • Search

  • View

  • Download

  • Comment

  • Upload (to folder with assets pending approval)

  • Upload new designs.

  • Add tags at upload.

  • Send assets for approval.

  • Move an approved asset to a separate collection “Final”/”Approved”.

Did you enjoy this article? Give Pics.io a try — or book a demo with us, and we'll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Conclusion

  • Digital agencies work with digital assets every day, with volumes a few magnitudes higher than companies that work only with in-house assets.
  • Managing multiple clients with different requirements (and the associated assets) can quickly turn into a mess without a proper tool to manage assets and their interlocked relationships.
  • Using digital asset management helps you streamline asset workflow, and distribution channels, and make permission management easier.  
  • Pics.io DAM offers Google Drive integration making a process of adoption a lot easier and smoother.
Pics.io Team
Welcome to Pics.io blog, where you'll get useful tips, resources & best practices on how digital asset management can help your business to manage & distribute digital content on top of cloud storage.
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