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Digital asset management: going beyond cloud storage

If your company’s digital storage system is making you lose the will to live, you’re not alone.

A recent study found that 50% of office workers spend more time searching for files in their online storage system than doing their jobs. Nearly one in five said “digging for files they need” is their number one challenge with remote work.

All that time wasted means big productivity losses and smaller profit margins for your business. A 2018 report by IDC found that knowledge workers are wasting 30% of their time searching for information. Assuming they work an average of 40 hours per week, that’s a jaw-dropping 13 hours lost per employee each week.

If you’ve got the cloud storage blues, it might be time to consider the alternative — digital asset management. This article will cover the basics of digital asset management systems, their benefits, and why they’re the storage solution your business is crying out for.

What is digital asset management (DAM)?

Say you’re a content marketing manager looking for brand content for an email marketing campaign — what do you do?

Perhaps you search your company’s media assets, clicking endlessly through files and versions but not finding quite what you’re looking for.

Even when you find the creative files, you’re not sure if it’s the latest version — so you email your exasperated design team and ask them to send it to you.

Let’s be honest — it’s a waste of your time and theirs. Surely there’s a better way?

Enter digital asset management — aka DAM.

A digital asset is any branded digital content file that is subject to copyright. Digital media assets can take any number of file formats — from JPGs to WAVs and PDFs.

The number of digital assets the average brand creates is increasing as content continues to dominate the world of marketing. Some of the types of digital files your company might produce include:

  • Social creatives
  • Ads
  • Emails
  • Reports
  • Whitepapers
  • Presentations
  • Logos
  • Videos
  • Podcasts or other audio files
  • Templates

All too often, this content can get stuck in silos or lost in a cloud-based storage system. Digital asset management software allows you to store digital assets and manage their entire lifecycle in a way that makes it easy to create, organize and distribute media files all from one platform.

It’s a single ecosystem that makes it easy to collaborate on and share files with both internal users (such as designers and marketers) and external users (such as agencies and contracting partners).

It, therefore, becomes a single source of truth for all your creative files that team members and other stakeholders can easily access, reuse, and repurpose. This makes brand management easy and intuitive, saving both time and resources.

What does a digital asset management platform do?

Put simply, a digital asset management system saves time for everyone and money for the company. Here are some of the main features that allow it to do that.


DAM software has collaboration features such as comments, annotations, and in-app editing, which make real-time collaboration quicker and easier.


With a DAM platform, you can forget about downloading and re-uploading files since integrations with content management systems (CMS) allow you to distribute content marketing materials directly from your DAM platform. Most have analytics features that allow you to measure your asset’s performance.


Automated creative workflows streamline the feedback and approval process. One-click approvals mean that assets no longer need to be approved by email, which means designers can save time on content creation.


Most DAM software has integrations with your current tech stack and design software such as Adobe. This allows designers to create new assets without having to switch between apps.

Search functions

DAM’s advanced search capabilities enable users to find what they’re looking for without clicking through hundreds of files.

Rights and permissions

Digital rights management and features help you stay on top of all your licensing agreement expiration dates to mitigate compliance risks. Permissions make sure only the authorized team members can edit files.

Why cloud-based storage is not enough

Cloud storage is like that ex you just keep going back to. It might feel safe and familiar, but in the long term, it’s harming you.

Cloud-based storage systems, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, work well if you’re a single user who wants to store your files in one place for mostly personal use. They put the user at the center of the experience and assume you’re familiar with the structure of folders that you have created.

However, this becomes a problem when a company uses cloud storage to regularly store and manage team-wide brand assets, files of varying extensions, and files uploaded to different content management systems. This is where a digital management system steps in, putting digital assets at its center instead of a single user.

Cloud-based storage might be okay for an entrepreneur or small startup just setting out on its journey. But as your company grows, the number of digital assets it produces will grow, too. When you’re distributing content across a plethora of channels, the sheer volume of digital assets being produced can easily get sucked into the black hole of cloud-based storage.

But DAM software doesn’t just save you time. It can also help you improve brand consistency and customer experience. A consistent brand identity is the key to increasing awareness and visibility — according to research, people prefer brands that are consistent across all channels, and brand consistency can increase sales by 10-20%.

Media asset management can strengthen brand consistency and improve user experience by aligning all of your marketing assets. Plus, it’s a handy place to store brand guidelines to ensure consistency across all channels and media formats.

What makes digital management systems better than cloud storage?

DAM software was developed in response to the growing need to create, organize, locate, edit, and distribute digital assets.

While most cloud-storage systems are based on the folders and subfolders logic of an ordinary computer, DAM platforms are a more refined solution to the challenges businesses face when it comes to managing their digital files.

Below are five ways a digital asset management system is better than cloud storage.

1. It’s a one-stop-shop for all file types

A digital asset, such as a logo, often needs to be stored in various extensions, sizes, and even media. But traditional cloud storage doesn’t necessarily support all file types.

With a strong DAM system in place, all digital assets can be easily stored, categorized, and retrieved based on their identity as assets rather than their formats.

2. You can resize without the hassle

Imagine how many requests you could save your design team per week if users could convert, rename, and scale files for themselves. With a DAM system, that dream becomes a reality.

A social media manager, for instance, can change the aspect ratio on a file themselves in real-time, instead of putting in a request with the creative team and waiting.

This not only removes the intermediate step of downloading a third-party application but also greatly reduces storage use, with a single file proving sufficient for all needs.

3. Kiss goodbye to your CMS with integrations

How many hours per week does your marketing team spend on searching for, downloading, and distributing media files? DAM integrations with CMS eliminate the need for this kind of manual work.

For example, marketing teams can distribute marketing materials directly to their website or social media channels without toggling between platforms. You can even set up a marketing automation within the DAM to save time on doing it manually.

This is a significant advantage over cloud storage systems, which offer very limited options in connecting to other systems of content management.

4. It grows with your business

As teams scale and grow, particularly with a distributed network of employees, a cloud-based storage library becomes the digital equivalent of Dante’s seven circles of hell.

Multiple departments, clients, and teams accessing cloud content add to the chaos, often creating duplicates and triplicates of assets they’re unable to locate.

A robust DAM allows users to add metadata (for example, the date an asset was created) and keep track of when an asset is downloaded by another party.

Analytics features allow you to see how and when an asset is used and provide valuable insight into its performance that can help strengthen marketing efforts.

5. It keeps your assets safe

Many people believe that cloud-based storage is the safest place to keep digital assets. But in 2019, 30% of businesses lost data due to cloud outages, highlighting the need for better protection of digital assets.

Features such as version control, data encryption, permissions, and rights management give you peace of mind.

Most DAM solutions regularly test their systems and infrastructure for vulnerabilities to prevent loss from outages. Some even have additional security features such as SAML and SSO identity management.

Digital asset management solutions make your life easier

It’s a no-brainer, really. Digital asset management saves you and your business time and money, keeps your digital content safe, and fits seamlessly into your existing tech stack.

Here at Playbook, we believe your digital assets can be both well organized and visually appealing. Sign up for our free storage plan — with 4000GB of space for artists and designers — to discover a new way to store and share content.