The Importance of Choosing the Right Digital Asset Management System 

5 July 2023

As organizations grow and their workflows evolve, so does their need for the right technology. But identifying which tools will meet your needs now — and as your business scales — can be a major undertaking. 

Investing in a digital asset management (DAM) solution is no different. While DAM systems are designed to simplify how digital content is organized and managed, selecting the right solution can actually be really complicated. After all, there are dozens of vendors to choose from, all with a unique combination of functionality, features, and services. On the flip side, being able to identify and prioritize your business requirements requires a lot of due diligence.

And unfortunately, if you select a solution that doesn’t meet your needs there are a range of significant consequences. Let’s take a look at the risks entailed in making the wrong- DAM software investment — and how to avoid them.

The Risks of Getting it Wrong

Unwanted Expenses

By the time you realize that you’ve selected a a digital asset management solution or system that won’t support your use cases as expected, you will likely be deep into software implementation. This includes configuration, content migration, piloting, and possibly even the beginning of system launch. Many stakeholders will have committed significant time to this initiative.

At this point, it is pretty hard to cut your losses and change course. Not only will there be the hard costs of ending the current contract — but there will be further hefty staffing expenses. Scrapping plan A means starting from scratch with another procurement process and then spending months configuring, migrating, and preparing for roll out — a second time. We all know that time means money, and this redundant work will be costly.

It is not easy to let go of those sunk costs, so most likely, you will continue to persevere. You may not be able to tell the difference between poor implementation, and the wrong system. Either way the challenges will continue to grow in significance and complexity.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Broken Trust

While the technical part of a software launch can be complicated, with numerous timelines and milestones, getting people to embrace the new system can be even more challenging. After all, change is hard — even when it’s for the better. And when the solution doesn’t meet expectations, you risk damaging the trust between you and your stakeholders. 

And once this trust is broken, it is difficult to repair. Stakeholders that feel burned or frustrated may not be interested in engaging in the process again, which can have a chilling effect on system adoption and even create a self-fulfilling prophecy that the project is doomed to failure. 

Lost Opportunity

In addition to unwanted staffing expenses and damaged trust, investing in the wrong digital asset management system will delay your time to value. In other words, it extends the time needed to realize all of the gains that you were hoping for when you invested in a digital asset management system.

While delays and pivots play out, all of the original challenges that were drivers for making this technology investment continue to grow, such as workflow efficiencies, poor user experience, brand inconsistencies, and general content chaos. For organizations that manage archival assets, every month can bring the permanent loss of materials due to decay or obsolescence.

Not choosing the right DAM system means that these challenges continue to balloon — greatly prolonging the time until you realize DAM ROI.

Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

Project Viability

A final risk inherent in choosing the wrong digital asset management system is the possibility that it sinks the project entirely. The decision to implement a new DAM system is often part of a larger technology strategy endorsed by executive leadership. And if the initial selection is a failure, it can create waves that cast doubt on the value of the investment. 

This loss of confidence can threaten the existence of the entire DAM project — putting careers at risk and leaving a legacy that is difficult to overcome.

How to Choose the Right Digital Asset Management System, the First Time

Clearly, with any major technology investment the stakes are high. And righting the ship after a wrong decision entails considerable work and expense.

That’s why many organizations wondering how to choose a digital asset management system turn to a DAM consultant to guide their selection process. Including a consultant on your team can add clarity and efficiency at every stage of the process and sets the project up for success: from identifying specification requirements and drafting a request for proposal (RFP) all the way through vendor evaluation. 

In addition to avoiding the risks outlined above, the benefits of working with a top digital asset management systems consultant include:

  • Confidence that you’ve uncovered, defined, and prioritized all of your content workflow and business needs
  • The ability to articulate these needs to avoid disconnects or miscommunications with your vendor, down the road
  • Access to a data-driven, systematic approach that allows for informed and clear decisions, based on the right criteria

In many ways, working with a digital asset management consultant is like an insurance policy against going down the wrong path — allowing you to minimize your risk and maximize your reward. 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

AVP’s Approach to DAM Selection

At AVP, we offer DAM selection services that can be tailored to the needs of every organization. DAM is anything but a one-size-fits all investment, and our people-first approach allows us to provide the right level of support, every time. 

AVP Select services are organized into two options:

  • Full Service Technology Consulting (aka Managed Select): We offer three bundles of consulting services that all begin with a stakeholder alignment workshop. From there, you can decide how long you’d like us to lead the process.
  • Technology Selection Training (aka Self Select): Our training option often appeals to customers who have the right team assembled but could benefit from step-by-step guidance on how to choose a digital asset management system.

All of our DAM consulting services are rooted in a proven technology selection process that has helped our customers make the correct DAM investment, with confidence. 

Make the Best DAM Decision, with AVP

With support from AVP’s digital asset management consultants, you can begin your DAM journey on the path to success.

We’d love to learn about your unique content workflows and technology needs. Contact us to learn more about AVP Select — and how we can work together to achieve your DAM goals, faster.

To Build a Successful DAM Program, Adopt a Service Mindset

25 August 2021

Kara_Crop-1Kara Van Malssen is Partner and Managing Director for Services at AVP.  Kara works with clients to bridge the technical, human, and business aspects of projects. Kara has supported numerous organizations with DAM selection and implementation, metadata modeling and schema development, and taxonomy development, and user experience design efforts.

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Audiovisual Metadata Platform Pilot Development (AMPPD) Final Project Report

21 March 2022

This report documents the experience and findings of the Audiovisual Metadata Platform Pilot Development (AMPPD) project, which has worked to enable more efficient generation of metadata to support discovery and use of digitized and born-digital audio and moving image collections. The AMPPD project was carried out by partners Indiana University Libraries, AVP, University of Texas at Austin, and New York Public Library between 2018-2021.

Report Authors : Jon W. Dunn, Ying Feng, Juliet L. Hardesty, Brian Wheeler, Maria Whitaker, and Thomas Whittaker, Indiana University Libraries; Shawn Averkamp, Bertram Lyons, and Amy Rudersdorf, AVP; Tanya Clement and Liz Fischer, University of Texas at Austin Department of English. The authors wish to thank Rachael Kosinski and Patrick Sovereign for formatting and editing assistance.

Funding Acknowledgement: The work described in this report was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read the entire report here.


Libraries and archives hold massive collections of audiovisual recordings from a diverse range of timeframes, cultures, and contexts that are of great interest across many disciplines and communities.

In recent years, increased concern over the longevity of physical audiovisual formats due to issues of

media degradation and obsolescence, 2 combined with the decreasing cost of digital storage, have led institutions to embark on projects to digitize recordings for purposes of long-term preservation and improved access. Simultaneously, the growth of born-digital audiovisual content, which struggles with its own issues of stability and imminent obsolescence, has skyrocketed and continues to grow exponentially.

In 2010, the Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Library of Congress reported in “The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age” that the complexity of preserving and accessing physical audiovisual collections goes far beyond digital reformatting. This complexity, which includes factors such as the cost to digitize the originals and manage the digital surrogates, is evidenced by the fact that large audiovisual collections are not well represented in our national and international digital platforms. The relative paucity of audiovisual content in Europeana and the Digital Public Library of America is a testament to the difficulties that the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) community faces in creating access to their audiovisual collections. There has always been a desire for more audiovisual content in DPLA, even as staff members recognize the challenges and complexities this kind of content poses (massive storage requirements, lack of description, etc.). And, even though Europeana has made the collection of audiovisual content a focus of their work in recent years, as of February 2021, Europeana comprises 59% images and 38% text objects, but only 1% sound objects and 2% video objects. DPLA is composed of 25% images and 54% text, with only 0.3% sound objects, and 0.6% video objects.

Another reason, beyond cost, that audiovisual recordings are not widely accessible is the lack of sufficiently granular metadata to support identification, discovery, and use, or to support informed rights determination and access control and permissions decisions on the part of collections staff and users. Unlike textual materials—for which some degree of discovery may be provided through full-text indexing—without metadata detailing the content of the dynamic files, audiovisual materials cannot be located, used, and ultimately, understood.

Traditional approaches to metadata generation for audiovisual recordings rely almost entirely on manual description performed by experts—either by writing identifying information on a piece of physical media such as a tape cassette, typing bibliographic information into a database or spreadsheet, or creating collection- or series-level finding aids. The resource requirements and the lack of scalability to transfer even this limited information to a useful digital format that supports discovery presents an intractable problem. Lack of robust description stands in the way of access, ultimately resulting in the inability to derive full value from digitized and born-digital collections of audiovisual content, which in turn can lead to lack of interest, use, and potential loss of a collection entirely to obsolescence and media degradation.

Read the entire report here

People-Centered Media Asset Management at National Geographic Society [Webinar Recording]

28 June 2021

Understanding how content creators and Media Asset Management (MAM) users think, behave, and view the world can help create critical building blocks that translate into a powerful MAM user experience. To chart your course toward managerial success, it’s equally important to identify the goals of the MAM as well.

Our Media Asset Management consulting work with the National Geographic Society (NatGeo or NGS) illustrates how understanding the difference between the thinking, behavior, and worldview of content creators and MAM users translates to asset management of the grandest proportions.

Illuminating the World with MAM

The NGS’s primary mission is to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. For decades their primary method for doing so was with their world-famous magazine, sharing images and written stories about the miraculous cultures, species, and wonders of our natural world. 

Today, ever in tune with the modern digital age, the NGS now shares those images and stories through its website, social media platforms, and television programs. 

However, this variety in publication means they need an ironclad method for managing all of their media content and assets—especially when the NGS supports between 700-800 explorers every year. And thanks to AVP’s asset management expertise and experience, the NGS MAM system can grow to support as many explorers as they need.

The NGS’s Media Asset Management system works as the bridge between those field explorers documenting what the world has to offer and the eyes and hearts of the people. With terabytes upon terabytes of assets to manage, a MAM helps NGS’s content creators sift through their database to find the materials they need to tell their stories.

Selection and Description of Assets

After exploring potential solutions to the NGS’s problems, AVP helped the NGS identify two primary concerns with their Media Asset Management system: Selection and description. These pain points were based on the experience of the content creators who use the system the most, helping us identify the correct Media Asset Management tools we needed to employ.

Selection, in this case, refers to the ability to curate digital media assets before they even make it into the MAM system. Since the NGS manages assets from hundreds of sources every year, this curation process is imperative for its ability to ensure that the assets in the MAM align with the scope of what the MAM is intended to support. This results in more effective management and ultimately a better user experience. 

Description largely refers to the creation and application of metadata— information that helps users search and discover relevant assets with efficiency and quality.

These two concepts, among others, were identified and addressed through multiple AVP service offerings, helping the NGS successfully launch their MAM and meet the needs of their stakeholders that are creating, managing, and using digital media assets.

Learn from the Experts

At AVP, we practice user-centered approaches to cultivate successful MAM programs. By focusing on the user experience, AVP better ensures that whether or not we help you select your MAM, that the MAM you have serves your needs, goals, and objectives as effectively as possible.

Want the full picture of the National Geographic Society’s MAM program? In this webinar, AVP Managing Director of Consulting and MAM expert Kara Van Malssen is joined by our clients Angela Sanders and Jorge Alvarenga of National Geographic Society to share how people-centered thinking is innovating how NGS is building and managing their MAM program. 

Enjoy the webinar (with searchable transcripts) in the embedded player below or hosted in the Aviary platform.

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Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 1

9 April 2021

To the user, a digital asset management (DAM) or similar system is only as good as the search and discovery experience.

If users are greeted with a homepage that they can’t relate to, if searches don’t return expected results, and if they can’t figure out how to use the navigational tools to browse, they get frustrated and leave. Many will never return.


DAM and similar systems exist to help people find assets they are looking for and use them effectively. Getting the search and discovery experience right is the key to adoption.

To design a system for findability, you have to start with the building blocks: metadata, taxonomy, and information architecture. To translate these into a good search and discovery experience, you have to learn how your users see the world.

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Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 2

15 April 2021

Kara Van Malssen

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Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 3

15 April 2021

Kara Van Malssen

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Manage Your DAM Expectations

8 April 2020

Or, how getting a DAMS is like buying and owning a home


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AVP Tips to Manage Your DAM Expectations Video

2 July 2020

AVP DAM System Specialists Kara Van Malssen and Kerri Willette talk through tips on how to manage expectations during a DAMS launch. The tips are from a recent AVP blog post Manage Your DAM Expectations and based on Van Malssen’s white paper Scenario Planning for a Successful DAM Journey.

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Digital Preservation Go!

6 May 2021

Take your first, next step to long-term digital preservation with AVP.

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