Got a DAM Problem?

Seven digital asset management solutions that might just change the way you work.

By Tracy A. Gill

My first job in marketing was at a mid-size agency in New York in a department fondly known as traffic. My raison d’être was shuttling brightly colored folders from art to copy to editing to account management to production and back again, until each job had been vetted and approved by every member of the team. I also spent a great deal of time digging through image archives, rekeying collateral for which the digital files were nowhere to be found, cataloging each completed campaign, and maintaining extensive records of who did what, on which campaign, for how long, and when.

I was the lowest of the low on the totem pole, but I was indispensable because it was in my head that the key details of each job’s status lived. I could set a job back weeks with one misplaced folder, send a project way over budget with one missed step, and—it was implied but never said—bring down the entire company with one sick day. In short, an awful lot hinged on a very antiquated system. And even though I was only 22 and very green, I knew there had to be a better way.

Turns out, there is. Digital asset management (DAM) is the technological equivalent of a dozen traffic coordinators. The capabilities of DAM solutions run a wide gamut, from desktop software that help a handful of users categorize a single type of files; to process-oriented solutions that manage workflow across departments and companies; to highly customized enterprise-wide systems that facilitate all manner of corporate communications.

For most direct marketers, it’s that middle tier—the workflow-oriented solutions—that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line. Depending on the breadth of the system, it can catalog and organize all of your digital files; back up assets; store metadata on all jobs; improve workflow with a system for routing and keeping track of job status; allow for remote approvals and proofing; control versions and track changes; align your digital assets across all channels; ensure proper use of digital assets such as logos, product shots and tags; allow you to search through your text, images and metadata; and archive completed jobs. In short, it’s an administrative and organizational dream.

What follows is an overview of some of the out-of-box—as opposed to the proprietary programs offered by many printers and agencies—digital asset management solutions on the market today with applications designed for, or customizable to, the unique needs of a direct marketing program.

  • Telescope from North Plains Systems. Telescope is a full suite of Web-services-enabled media applications, including Telescope Enterprise, Telescope MDP (Media Distribution Portal), and Telescope Creative Studio, a stand-alone media management application designed to manage QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign files. The fully scalable Enterprise is the flagship product, and offers such management functions as data modeling, metadata management, workflow automation, project approval, version control, production automation, archiving, asset security and forensics, rights management, and full searching capabilities.

    It runs on either a Mac or Windows client, or as a hosted Web-based inter-face. It supports Microsoft Office documents and various database platforms, including Oracle, SQL and Sybase. It also features a government compliance function that aids in the submission of FDA materials and historical preservation of files for Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC compliance.

    For more, visit or call (416) 345-1900.

  • B. Media from Wave Corp. B. Media features a number of interfaces, including a Product Manager to support such granular information as pricing and SKUs; Content Manager to store resources, control access, and maintain revision history, usage information and other data about digital assets; and Layout Client to create QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign files that are linked to digital assets within the database, which ensures that any changes to the digital assets will be pushed to files containing those assets and vice versa. B. Media may be deployed on Windows, Linux and Sun Solaris servers, and runs on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It also has a Web client that runs in any modern browser.

    For more information, visit or call (407) 585-0250.

  • MarketingPilot from MarketingPilot LLC. Designed especially for small and mid-size marketing companies, this solution offers a number of functions, including ones to help you slice and dice to link campaigns to products, locations, channels and more; develop best practices templates off of successful efforts; model, score and cleanse your database;

    track campaign response and performance; manage production processes; and write reports on any variety of issues. It runs on either a Windows operating system or through a hosted Web interface. Data for either can be housed internally or through MarketingPilot’s servers.

    For more information, visit, or call (847) 864-4777.

  • MediaBin from Interwoven. A suite with a number of different modules, MediaBin’s features include cataloging files, a Web interface for remote access to files, image repurposing, asset storage, metadata handling, multiple search methods, version control, activity logging, XML support, advanced preview options to reduce both required bandwidth and time, and high-level security control. The Asset Server requires a Windows server environment and an SQL or Oracle database. Clients require Windows NT/98/XP or 2000, or Mac OS 10.3 or higher operating systems, and browser access from Explorer 5.5 or Safari 1.2.6, or higher. Interwoven also recommends Office 2003, Acrobat Reader, Microsoft DirectShow or Apple Quicktime for quality previewing of files.

    For more information, visit or call (408) 530-5800.

  • PlanSystem3 from QuadSystems.An editorial and creative workflow management system, PlanSystem3 works with standard desktop applications, including Adobe InDesign and InCopy, QuarkXPress, QuarkCopyDesk, Word and others. It also allows you to work in multiple applications within one edition. PlanSystem3 is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems and server environments. Plan View, an included component of the solution, allows you to view files remotely via a Web browser, but does not allow you to make changes to the file.

    For more information, visit or call (866) 246-7693.

  • eMotion from eMotion, a Corbis company. eMotion offers two licensable software products—ArchivePartner and CreativePartner—which enables you to own and manage your own digital asset solution. CreativePartner expands upon the cataloging and distribution functionality of Archive- Partner, with the ability to annotate, review, route and approve files. In addition, eMotion features a modular design to allow you to pick and choose the components you need, including AdBuilder; Presentation Builder; Logo Dispenser; Integrated Workflow; Image Rights Management; Page Layout; and Color Management. All eMotion suites offer the ability to route and approve files off-site through a Web interface, which requires Internet Explorer 5.2+, Netscape 6.2+ for Windows, Netscape 7.0+ for Mac, or Safari 1.0+. It runs on either a Windows or Mac operating system.

    For more information, visit or call (866) 236-6846.

  • Aprimo Marketing from Aprimo Inc. Offering both resource management and campaign management software, the Aprimo suite of solutions is Web-based and includes five main solutions to manage marketing communications and production, including vendor, workflow and approval management; fulfillment and delivery; planning and finances; leads; and e-mail marketing and direct response campaigns, a component designed to fit the needs of multichannel marketers in both the B-to-B and B-to-C spaces. Aprimo supports both Oracle and SQL server databases, and because it is a fully Web-based application, it is accessible for off-site use and does not have operating system requirements.

    For more information, visit, or call (317) 803-4300.