How to choose the best Digital Asset Management system for your team?
Choosing a Digital Asset Management system (DAM) for your team is not an easy task. On the surface, they all seem to offer similar functionality: upload your assets, organize them using section, collections or tags, and invite your team and external partners.
Which Digital Asset Management platform is the best in the world? After all, if you’re going to choose a product, why not choose the best?
But just like with most products, there is no one ‘best’ Digital Asset Management platform — there’s just the one that best suits you and your team.
So I’ve made a list of the main things to consider, along with a few ideas on great systems that might be a good fit for specific use cases.
Key parameters to take into account
The main things to consider are:
- The size of your team and company
- ease of use (management capacity in your team)
- AI capabilities
- budget & timelines
The size of your team and company
Small businesses and huge enterprises will usually have very different requirements. 1–10-person teams can often do well by keeping all their content in a Drive solution (Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other solution). If they do need more of a specialty system, they’ll tend to go with self-service, high-UX solutions that can be implemented quickly.
Companies with 1000 employees will need a dedicated Digital Asset Management system with advanced features such as image search, tagging, and advanced sharing options, such as Bynde, Canto, or tagbox. If you expect to have a lot more special requirements, going with the older players might make sense. In this case, you can expect longer sales and implementation processes, and premium pricing starting (usually in the $4k/month range and above).
Looking to get started quickly? Unfortunately, there are very few products that allow a free trial (but here’s one).
Ease of use (management capacity in your team)
Do you have at least one full-time Marketing Operations Manager or DesignOps? With most large Digital Asset Management providers such as Bynder and Canto, that’ll be a pre-requisite, as these systems both allow and require a ton of customization and ongoing management, which might put stress if your project management team is already overworked.
Files require manual labeling and descriptions. You also wouldn’t want to have everyone running quarterback, as different people might tag using different tags (synonyms or plurals), leaving you with more of a mess than you had before. That said, if you have the personnel, they really can do great things.
Don’t have that capacity and you just need something that works out-of-the-box? Playbook.com and tagbox.io might be a good fit.
The solution is usually using AI to help you manage your assets without all the manual work. While most platforms say they use AI, it’s often just lip-service. This is a big factor, as ease of use might determine whether your DAM will be adopted by your team, or only by that one person that really cares about it (and since you’re the one doing the research and reading this, that person is probably you).
Here are the things that are worth checking carefully:
- Image search: if you’re uploading a dog wearing a hat, you want to be able to find by typing, say, “dog wearing a hat”. While you’re demoing, insist on trying a few variations, like “dogs in hats”. Did it still find it? Great! Missed it? Huge red flag right there.
- Text- in-image search: in many cases, being able to search for a text in an image is an absolute must. Are you working on products that have labels on them? This is what makes it possible to find the product you’re looking for in a sec.
- Auto-tagging: most products advertise their auto-tagging feature. in most cases, each image is tagged with 5-10 tags, and once you upload 1k images, you’re left with 2000+ tags. Ask yourself - is that making you more organized? This doesn’t mean that auto-tagging is bad, it just means it has to be done right. Want an example? Watch the video below.
- Advanced filters: you want to be able to filter by image meta-data, just like in Shutterstock. Image size, orientation, even color, are quite common in most platforms. Then we get into searching by a people traits such as age or gender, and even searching for a specific person in an image.
Budget & timelines
As mentioned, enterprise-first products such as Bynder or Brandfolder will offer a lot of customizations. The downside here are very long sales cycles of a few months, followed by customization, implementation and training processes of a few more month, so that in the best case scenario, you can expect to get started within 4-5 months of getting in touch.
These high-touch processes also come at a more direct cost, with prices often starting at $3k / month.
If you don’t feel your team requires special attention and would like to get started at more reasonable prices, options like tagbox.io offer free trial and prices starting at $250 / month.
Pay special attention to the cost of storage - while newer DAMs offer next to unlimited storage (as they should in 2022, when the cost of storage is very low, as Google Drive and Dropbox prove), some of the larger DAMs still charge $1k+ per TB.
I hope this article helped clear the fog about what to look for in a Digital Asset Management tool.
But the most important thing is that before you go and choose a system, go talk to your team and map their needs. It shouldn’t take long, and other than helping you search, it will also allow potential vendors to showcase how their platform is (or isn’t) suitable for what you’re looking for.
Trying to decide between a few products and not sure which to choose? Email us at email@example.com and let's have an honest conversation about your team's requirements.
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