Functionality You’ve Come To Expect with Digital Asset Management (DAM) Software

Image: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2018): Martech 5000 (actually 6,829)

Functionality You’ve Come To Expect with Digital Asset Management DAM Software

Earlier this year, a colleague and I evaluated over 30 vendors in the DAM space. We not only researched their online materials, but also sat down with each of them to demo their products and ask questions about the features. 

We work hard to keep up on features and differentiators so we can provide the best and latest insight into these products, and we realized something else equally as valuable – product trends. We got a clear picture of what features are now simply expected, what is new, and even a little of what the future may hold for digital asset management.

Here are what we see as the top trends, key differentiators, and some speculation on what is coming and what it may mean to Digital Asset Management software overall.

Artificial Intelligence

So, let’s start with a fun one and last year’s buzzword: AI. Specifically, what I’m talking about here is the ability for the system to evaluate your assets and suggest tags. It’s crazy how fast “Oh Wow” has changed to “Ho-hum”. What was innovative, and a differentiator is now commonplace. By leveraging available Google technology, this became fairly easy to incorporate into new releases.

But don’t worry, AI is just getting started. Some vendors have incorporated facial recognition -- mostly for celebrities right now, but some are even going beyond this and you can see the great potential for rights management and model identification.

Then there is video tagging. This really amazed me and is a differentiator, at least for now. Just imagine the same general idea of evaluating a still image, but for an entire video. Auto-tagging who is in the video, and other general metadata features. 

Where is this all going? Imagine your product being able to be identified in every asset and video, then being able to jump to the exact frame where it appears. OK, it’s not there yet, but it’s coming.

Video Multimedia and 3D Models

Speaking of video and multimedia, from my research this is going to be where you see the biggest focus in DAM this year. Being able to process, display, and search on larger, more complicated files. This includes previewing these media types as useable thumbnails. (You can play the video or spin the model.)

The sexiest feature I saw was video speech-to-text translation. By itself, maybe not that impressive, but when coupled with search it’s powerful.  A user can find every video that mentions any search term. This brings the future of finding the exact frame where your product is mentioned into reality today. Or maybe you just need a clip of that one quote your CEO said --- no more scrolling around. Just do a search on keywords.


On-prem solutions are dying, fast. Several of the vendors I interviewed have stopped offering it as an option or plan to sunset support. Look, no matter what your IT department tells you about compliance and security, on-prem solutions are quickly disappearing and you need to re-evaluate your position (and perhaps your CIO) if you plan to stay competitive. 


I am “Team Project Management” on this one. I have always thought your proofing process belongs in your project management tool, not your DAM. However, if you do have a solid need for proofing and collaboration right in your DAM there are some pretty cool new enhancements. 

Markup and comments on still assets are now common, but what I saw more of this year are video and web proofing tools. That is, being about to mark-up and annotate right on a video frame or usable website. This replaces the whole tedious screenshot/ PDF workaround. To be fair, the big guys have had these features for several years and the medium/small vendors are playing catchup.


Being able to integrate to other popular software through API’s and providing a solid SDK is nothing new. What is new is simplifying the process. The goal is to provide a tool that allows a capable admin, with little to no programming skills, have the ability to integrate a host of popular software solutions.

Admin run software

Which leads into the final trend. It’s not that I think IT is no longer needed or that marketing will become completely automated, I just feel it is evolving, and Martech is the final step. You simply will need both skills to survive in the future of marketing. Luckily, because of the melding, each is becoming easier to navigate and understand. DAM vendors see this trend and are focused on making their products admin friendly. This extends beyond creative and marketing to any DAM user, regardless of the use case. The idea is that any professional with solid technical skills can use, configure, and integrate without leaning on a senior IT developer.  Even complicated omnichannel enterprise systems are trending to lessen reliance on developers and engineers.


Digital Asset Management vendors continue to innovate as more creative and marketing teams recognize DAM to be the cornerstone of their Martech ecosystem. 2019 looks like it will continue to be an exciting expansion period for this foundational technology.

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