API's Effect on DAM Systems

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:: By Leslie Weller, Canto ::


The burden of managing, maintaining and owning company digital assets has often been the domain of the marketing or creative team.

This makes sense given the marketing team is responsible for creating strategic marketing campaigns that use a variety of digital assets, from photography to graphics to video, in order to reach their intended audience and convert that audience to customers. Prior to the current array of available digital asset management (DAM) solutions, marketing teams had to make do with trying to keep track of fast growing vaults of assets with spreadsheets, shared drives, file folders and other DIY solutions. 

Fast forward to 2015, and the excessive growth of digital assets accumulated by organizations have made logging basic information on when and where an asset is used in a spreadsheet obsolete. And whether this helter-skelter method can be called management at all is debatable. A comprehensive DAM solution does so much more than just list assets and usage information. Enterprise DAM systems are metadata-driven platforms that allow marketers to search for what they own quickly and take a highly efficient and systematic approach to managing assets. Not only does DAM provide a collaborative and centralized way to manage the access and delivery of marketing assets in the desired file formats, but also records very specific and detailed information on license and copyright agreements which is critical to avoiding copyright infringement lawsuits. 

DAM systems designed for the enterprise bring automation to the process of asset management, which when used consistently, greatly reduces the possibility of using the wrong image or video – be it avoiding expired licenses, unapproved draft content or out-of-date versions. Metadata in your DAM system can provide a good deal of information: it can let you know when copyright licenses are set to expire, in which geographies they may be used and saves time by helping to find a piece of collateral or Web page that’s using a specific photo. The ability to instantly pull up this detailed type of information allows greater collaboration across marketing teams and their partners, consultants and agencies.

Once organizations began to realize the return on investment of their DAM systems, they also sought to increase the ROI by integrating DAM with other enterprise systems, such as content management systems (CMS), project management, marketing automation, ERP, e-commerce and publishing, among others. Because you can access a central store of media files housed in your DAM directly from the user interface (U)I of your other enterprise systems, Application program interfaces (APIs) allow a seamless digital work experience with measurable time savings. Many DAM providers began providing APIs to allow developers to easily create “hooks” between DAM and enterprise systems to create a new level of interoperability, eliminating the issue of siloed information that makes it difficult to cross reference, edit and update records from the DAM system.  

New Standards Promote Universal API for DAM

APIs have played an important role in making the Internet more open and a virtual sandbox of innovation, so to speak. APIs have also been the foundation for the creation of thousands of software applications and third-party software integrations responsible for add-ons that make life easier for consumers and businesses alike. From universal Facebook IDs for site log-ins, to Amazon, Pinterest and even Google Maps, APIs enable developers to continue creating new applications that help us to work smarter. One could argue that APIs are responsible for creating an Internet that is more functional, connected and efficient place for the masses. This same concept is being applied to DAM.

Broader acceptance and utilization of DAM is the concept of the OASIS CMIS4DAM Technical Committee. DAM vendors are working together to create something similar to a universal API, with the goal of allowing disparate DAM systems that are compliant to easily gain access to metadata without requiring the heavy lifting of the complex integration process.  

Metadata is key to the new standard, which will be critical to interoperability across a wide array of platforms, as well as content types and protocols. The CMIS4DAM Technical Committee’s endgame is to allow organizations to gain deeper insight into the lifecycle of each digital asset they own, while allowing asset metadata to be shared and utilized across other enterprise systems. 

In fact, a 2014 study by eConsultancy confirms the importance of interoperability. The study reports that when it comes to evaluating new marketing tools to invest in, nearly half of the study respondents said that new systems and tools need to be able to fully integrate with the old. The study also revealed that 31 percent and 28 percent of respondents lost work time and accuracy because of data integration issues, respectively. These are exactly the type of issues that APIs can, and do solve, every day. No longer a siloed application used only by marketers, APIs have pushed DAM further into the enterprise to provide a more efficient, effective and highly integrated workflow for anyone that is granted access to an organization’s cache of digital assets. 


About the Author: Leslie Weller, director of marketing for Canto has a deep respect for the way technology connects people with the things they value most. She joined Canto to help marketers, brand managers, product managers and content managers understand there is a better way to make use of their organizations’ massive amounts of digital content. Weller earned a master’s of business administration degree from California State University, San Marcos and a bachelor’s of science degree in sociology from Brigham Young University. 

LinkedIn: Leslie Weller

Twitter: Leslie_Weller

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