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evolution of DAM

The past decade has seen an explosion of innovative technology for marketing and advertising. The MarTech landscape has grown from a few hundred products to 8,000+ at the last count, including over 50 Digital Asset Management systems.

But it isn’t just the number of marketing and advertising software solutions that’s grown. As developers continue to push technological boundaries, individual products have evolved to include more advanced features and functionality.

In this article, we explore how Digital Asset Management technology is evolving to offer ever-greater advantages to marketers and advertisers.

What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Digital Asset Management is a strategic approach to managing and deploying all of the digital assets an organisation holds. Logos, video, images, audio, PDFs, artwork… You name it, DAM can store, share and deliver it.

And thanks to advanced taxonomy and metadata, it makes digital assets eminently easier to find and reuse. This means better brand compliance, improved output speed and quality, and higher ROI on assets you’ve commissioned.

As technology advances, so does DAM functionality. Once viewed as a standalone media library - a simple replacement for files and folders - it has become an integrated part of any self-respecting marketers’ software stack.

The evolution of DAM

DAM 1.0

DAM 2.0

DAM 3.0

Standalone media library

Integrated into martech stack

Heart of the martech stack 

Invaluable - but limited - functionality as a standalone solution

Expanded functionality driving higher value and ROI through integration

Advanced functionality that becomes the foundation of the software stack 

Demand for efficiency drives growth in DAM

The evolution of technology for marketing and advertising isn’t just driven by big brains from Seattle and Silicon Valley. The ongoing catalyst for change is the evolving needs of MarTech users. And that comes from the changing media consumption habits of our customers.

The explosion of digital channels over the past two decades has radically changed how customers consume content. This puts marketers under constant pressure to deliver more content across more channels. But they don’t always have the senior buy-in or budget to staff their teams accordingly.

As a result, marketing and advertising executives look to technology to solve their challenges. And savvy vendors develop solutions to meet those needs.

Through MarTech, marketers can streamline their day-to-day activities - delivering more content, quality, creativity and speed - without having to expand their team exponentially. Perhaps that’s why almost 30% of marketers’ budget today is invested in technology.

Four major advances in DAM for marketing and advertising

As technology advances, software solutions grow in both complexity and value. Whilst individual use cases differ, DAM is rapidly becoming the main facilitator of output and quality for marketers.

Four of the major advances in technology for marketing and advertising are:

  • automation
  • AI
  • integration
  • the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model

All four are instrumental in transforming Digital Asset Management from DAM 1.0 to DAM 2.0 - and driving higher value for marketers, advertisers, brand managers, and digital archivists.





















Nothing drains creativity or saps productivity like mind-numbing manual tasks. Not only do they steal valuable time from your talented staff, they’re also prone to human error. So automating processes is always going to appeal to time-poor marketing teams. Automation relies on rules and logic to complete predictable but labour-intensive tasks.

In DAM, automation includes - but isn’t limited to - tasks like:

  • Automatically creating different versions of a file for different uses - for example, converting an original high-res CMYK TIFF into a lower-res RGB JPG for use on the web - either individual files or batches of 100s
  • Recognising when digital assets become eligible for archiving and preparing them for deep sleep, subject to your approval
  • Adding metadata to large batches of assets based on single data input from your team
  • After uploading a new version of an asset, the system can automatically contact users who recently downloaded the old one, telling them to stop using that and providing a link to the new file

By letting robots do the heavy lifting, you give your team back precious hours for more human endeavours, like brainstorming campaign ideas or experimenting with new designs.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Where AI is arguably the most exciting next-gen technology filtering into our everyday lives. Like automation, AI can process information accurately at lightning-fast speeds. But it can also understand it. And iteratively develop that understanding over time.

AI is an increasingly invaluable tool in Digital Asset Management systems - allowing businesses to ingest, recognise and correctly categorise millions of digital assets with minimal manual intervention.

AI can be trained to recognise image contents and automatically apply metadata and keywords. Not only does this save hundreds of hours of manually adding metadata, it also enhances asset discoverability by effortlessly applying a deeper range of descriptive terms.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Software purchasing is another area that has been transformed in the past two decades.

SaaS has democratised the technological revolution, making advanced software accessible to businesses of all sizes, not just deep-pocketed corporate giants with their own tech teams.

With SaaS, you can subscribe to software on a monthly basis, accessing it online from any internet-enabled device. There’s no budget-bruising upfront fee and you’re free to add licenses as you grow. This makes it easier to deploy and scale software to meet your needs.

Plus it’s easier to switch between providers (giving vendors even more impetus to deliver truly transformative tech that keeps customers loyal to their product).

In DAM, SaaS and cloud-based hosting have made it quicker, easier and more secure to collaborate and share files between colleagues and teams, wherever they are in the world.

APIs and integration

Another transformative trend in MarTech is simplified integration, which brings an integrated software stack and streamlined processes within reach for most marketers.

Getting systems to share data used to be the domain of software specialists, schooled in coding languages beyond the ken of mere mortals. This meant software operated in silos, with minimal communication between them, causing duplicated data and effort.

Today, most SaaS products offer easy integration through plug-ins and APIs, meaning you no longer need a degree in software engineering to link up your different marketing tools.

Integration is a key characteristic of DAM 2.0, and both a game-changer and time-saver for DAM users.

Where DAM was once a standalone library of digital assets ( somewhere to upload, search and download files) it is now the beating heart - and brand hub - of the MarTech stack. Integrating your DAM with your other marketing and advertising technology, puts DAM functionality at people’s fingertips, whatever programme they’re working in.

  • Creating an email campaign in your CRM?
  • Building a landing page in your CMS?
  • Laying out a print publication with design software?

When DAM is integrated, your creative talent can access your digital assets without having to leave their native application. They can even create different versions optimised for different channels, on the fly, in just a couple of clicks.

By reducing unnecessary steps and clicks in the production process, this delivers faster time-to-market and higher productivity (and is the perfect cure for Too-Many-Tabs-Open-itis).

The future of DAM

Easy access to brand assets has cemented DAM’s pivotal place in most marketers’ software ecosystem. And most businesses have progressed to this level of DAM maturity - so-called DAM 2.0.

But what does DAM 3.0 look like?

DAM’s specialist functionality means it is well-placed to increase in value and relevance for marketers in coming years.

It is already well-connected to an increasing range of content production and distribution tools. And it has more advanced taxonomy, metadata and discoverability functions than other software. Leading some to predict DAM 3.0 will become the de facto software for omnichannel marketing and content personalisation.

What the future holds - especially in the fast-moving world of martech - nobody really knows. But being able to securely store, swiftly discover and easily deploy brand assets is always going to be fundamental.

So the one thing we can say for sure is this: your future looks brighter with DAM, than without it.

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