DAM Audits

By Jodie Byass


Why Auditing and Prioritizing Your Digital Assets is a Marketing Must-Have

For over two decades, I've championed the power of Marketing Technology including Digital Asset Management (DAM) software - I've been responsible for implementing MarTech across numerous organisations as well as marketing solutions to brands and creative teams across the globe.   But I am here to inform you,  that even the most seasoned professional can fall victim to disorganisation. Recently in a last minute, frantic search for a selection of logos and graphics to include in a campaign I unearthed a treasure trove of outdated assets.  It was a reminder that even marketers with the best intentions can struggle to keep their DAM libraries in tip-top shape. 

The truth is, neglecting our digital assets and not implementing regular Digital Asset Management audits can have serious consequences. Our ever-growing to-do lists often leave DAM audits on the back burner. Metadata becomes outdated, valuable assets get lost, and content creators end up recreating what already exists. This is a marketer's nightmare – wasted time, wasted resources, and missed opportunities.

Digital Asset Management


The Power of a DAM Audit: Unlocking Efficiency and Effectiveness

By investing time in a DAM audit, you're not just decluttering your digital space, you're unlocking the full potential of your marketing software, so lets take a look at what's involved in undertaking an annual audit.

Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Embrace the Data
Your Digital Asset Management Software is a goldmine of information, not just a storage locker. Leverage analytics – download statistics, usage data,  creation dates, expiry dates – to identify forgotten gems and under utilised content.  

Step 2: The Metadata Makeover
Accurate and up-to-date metadata is the key to findability. Give your assets a metadata makeover, ensuring it reflects current industry terms and best practices.  It is a little like SEO, keywords and the terms we use change over time, trends come and go, and it is important that we review our data so it remains current and so found  assets can be found on demand. 

Step 3: The Ruthless Review
Be ruthless! Identify outdated content, especially for discontinued products or services. Don't just delete it – consider archiving for historical purposes (but keep it out of the way!).

Step 4: The Fresh Start
Develop a regular audit schedule. Start with bi-annual check-ins and change the frequency as needed.

Bonus Tip: Collaboration is Key
Don't go it alone! Involve your marketing team or brand and product teams, especially those responsible for content creation. Collaborative audits ensure everyone's on the same page and using the right assets.


Beyond the Basics: A Deep Dive into DAM Optimisation

Now that we've covered the fundamentals, let's delve deeper into the strategic benefits of auditing and prioritising your digital assets:

Extends the Lifespan of Digital Assets

A disorganised DAM solution diminishes the value of your content. Just like forgotten vegetables in the back of the fridge, valuable assets get lost and under-utilised. Regular audits help you find these forgotten gems, saving you the cost of recreating content or the cost of creating new assets when you could repurpose the ones you have. 

Makes Migrations Efficient

Planning to migrate your assets to a new DAM platform? Auditing and prioritising beforehand is crucial. Migrating a disorganised library wastes time and money. There is no point in migrating assets that are no longer current, or expired. Cleaning up your library allows for a smoother transition, reduces migration costs, and gets users started on the right foot.

Provides Insights into Dynamic Content

Imagine a pantry so messy you can't tell what you have or what you need. The same goes for a disorganized Asset Library. Proactive content creation requires knowing what exists and what gaps need to be filled. Audits provide a clear understanding of your content library, empowering your brand, marketing, creative, and sales teams to find or create what they need.


A 10-Step Guide to Auditing and Prioritizing Digital Assets


Step 1: Consolidate Your Assets

The first step is gathering all your creative content from various locations – personal hard drives, company servers, cloud-based repositories, or existing DAM platforms. Consider using a central repository like Box or Dropbox or creating an online submission form for easy asset collection.


Step 2: Conduct a Comprehensive Inventory

Once your assets are consolidated, you need some basic insights. How many assets do you have? What types of files dominate your library? Use tools like PhotoMechanic, Box Shuttle, and Microsoft Excel to compile data on total asset count, storage usage, average file size, file types, and existing metadata.


Step 3: Identify and Remove Duplicates

Duplicate files are the bane of any DAM program. They waste storage space and clutter your library. Utilise DAM platform upload tools and online de-duplication tools to identify and remove these duplicates. With features like derivatives, formatting and version control, templating, and permissions within your DAM platform, you can confidently remove duplicates.


Step 4: Develop Asset Evaluation Criteria

Next, prioritise your assets based on their relevance and value to your organization. This will vary depending on your unique needs. Create custom evaluation criteria to prioritize content and understand its value.



Step 5: Gather User Feedback

While you've identified a priority set of assets, it's important to ensure nothing crucial is missing. Get feedback from end-users, particularly social media managers or content creators. They may have essential assets not included in your initial evaluation. Listen to their feedback, but avoid letting it balloon the priority list.


Step 6: Categorise and Organize

Now comes the cleanup phase! If you're migrating to a new DAM system, build a custom metadata taxonomy, add metadata to priority assets, and upload them using recommended migration tools. Ensure file names, metadata, and folder structure are organized and documented before uploading. Lower-priority assets can be prepped for upload with less extensive metadata tagging. For existing DAM systems, this might involve reorganizing assets into collections, saved searches, and portals, updating the metadata taxonomy, or bulk importing new metadata via a CSV file.


Step 7: Archive Outdated Assets

Lowest-priority assets are likely outdated, have expired usage rights, or outdated branding. While they may hold historical value, they clutter the DAM system. Identify an archive location outside the main DAM system, such as a designated archive section with special permissions, cold storage server, or cloud repository. Ensure these archived assets are organized and accessible to those who occasionally need them. Regularly review your collection and remove or archive anything no longer relevant.


Step 8: Leverage Tools for Data and Insights

With the heavy lifting done, turn your focus to the future. Where are the gaps in your content library? What types of assets drive success? Utilise DAM platform reports to gain insights into asset usage patterns, performance metrics, and user behavior. Consider collaborating with external agencies to evaluate asset performance on your website, e-commerce platform, marketing campaigns, and social media. These insights will guide your future asset creation and optimization efforts.


Step 9: Assemble a DAM Team

Maintaining a clean and organized DAM program requires ongoing effort. Ideally, a dedicated DAM team ensures program organization, priority asset availability, communication of data and insights, and user education. For organizations lacking the resources for a full-time DAM team, consider outsourcing to specialists like Stacks. They provide DAM librarians, managers, and strategists on a fractional basis, helping establish metadata standards and conduct regular audits.


Step 10: Develop a Governance Framework

Just like a fridge needs regular cleaning, so too does your DAM solution. Establish a comprehensive governance framework outlining policies and procedures for managing digital assets throughout their lifecycle. This framework should address access control, version control, and archiving or deletion processes.

By following these steps and embracing a DAM audit culture, you can transform your DAM program from a cluttered graveyard of forgotten assets into a well-organized content library that empowers your marketing efforts. Remember, a clean and efficient DAM system is a marketing superpower waiting to be unleashed.


By following these steps and embracing a DAM audit culture, you can transform your DAM system from a cluttered graveyard into a well-organized content library that empowers your marketing efforts. Imagine the time saved, the resources freed up, and the creative possibilities unleashed with a DAM system finally working for you. Ready to unlock the marketing superpower of a clean and efficient DAM system? Let's chat about how a DAM audit can be your first step towards marketing nirvana!