If there's one thing your brand marketing team and all of your local marketers can agree on, it's the idea that your technology should be flexible. Using software with limited accessibility, or a tool that doesn't fit your geographically distributed business model, creates extra work and more opportunities for miscommunication.
Today, 70% of organizations use at least one cloud-based app to power their business. For distributed brands, implementing cloud-based software can be much more difficult to implement than for most other companies. But, on-premise software, only accessible at headquarters, has no value for your local marketers or franchisees.
Distributed digital asset management (DAM) is an emerging category of technology. In addition to the ten core characteristics of DAM, distributed technology has additional features to meet the unique needs of local brands, such as:
- Templates: Marketing assets, which are structured for easy, compliant modification by local marketers within the DAM.
- Structured Content Management: Organize written content in a similar way to photos/images, and to associate written content with imagery for use in templates.
- Fulfillment Capabilities: Ability to use completed templates, through print vendor integration or fulfillment workflows, email sending, landing page publishing or hosting, banner ad display networks and more.
- Payment processing: Online payment portals allow local marketers to conveniently purchase print materials and other assets.
- Permissions Structure: Enables brand management teams to maintain control of the structure and use of content and assets by appropriate affiliates.
- Reporting: Allows brand marketers to see activity by local marketers in aggregate as well as to drill in on patterns of use and modification to assets, templates, and content areas.
In this blog, you'll learn more about why cloud-based DAM may not be good enough for your brand, and how to spot a true SaaS system, with the best solution, for your distributed brand's needs. Additionally, we'll share reviews of SaaS-based DAM options to better inform your technology search.
Is Cloud-Based or SaaS DAM a Smarter Choice?
When it comes to DAM solutions, understanding the difference between cloud-based and software-as-a-service-based (SaaS) is key.
- Cloud: A software application that is not located on-premises. With cloud-based software, your organization may purchase an enterprise license, but will not be responsible for hosting via a data center. Cloud offers the advantages of web-based access, and your organization may be responsible for customizing the platform. This could include deploying feature updates, building integrations, configurations, and more.
- SaaS: Software-as-a-Service means that every aspect of the development process is handled by the provider. The application is hosted and maintained by your vendor, and access is based on a standard subscription agreement, with all standard costs built-in. SaaS offers the advantages of fully web-based access, on-demand 24/7 access, automatic feature upgrades, seamless and/or native integrations, an open-source API, standard feature sets, self-service configuration, and more.
Differentiating the two categories of technology is a little tricky. SaaS DAM options are technically cloud-based because they're not tied to a location. SaaS is multi-tenant software. For most distributed brands, SaaS offers serious advantages in terms of convenience, implementation speed, and ease-of-use. Cloud software only really fulfills its promise when it is also SaaS; when you don't have to do any custom development to make it work for you.
In Gartner's Market Guide for Digital Asset Management, DAM options are categorized along a spectrum, which ranges from purely on-premises deployments to purely software-as-a-service options. While certain options such as ADAM software and Celum are primarily on-premises, this technically doesn't mean they can't be cloud-based. An organization could choose to deploy an on-premises option via intranet or local area network (LAN), enabling secure access to distributed partners.
For the sake of simplicity, we're focusing primarily on the SaaS-based options outlined by Gartner, with some analysis of how they may or may not meet the needs of your distributed organization.
The 5 Best SaaS DAM Options in 2017
At the time when Gartner's report was published, no DAM vendor surveyed was 100% on-premise. Five vendors were identified by Gartner as more SaaS-focused. These five have different product specializations, including stand-alone DAM, integrated solutions, and one distributed DAM. Read on for a brief overview of the vendors who offer the most flexible technologies.
Among the handful of standalone, wholly SaaS-based DAM solutions, WebDAM is considered a relatively easy-to-use option. Focused on a simple user experience, the solution scales to meet relatively complex use cases. Products include WebDAM with typical DAM feature sets and Brand Connect - designed for internal sharing of assets. Integrations include CMS options, social media integrations, and stock image integrations. Notable clients include Starbucks and Juniper.
MediaValet's focus is on offering stand-alone DAM services that can scale to meet a brand's needs and budgets. With relatively low initial pricing, MediaValet's unique cost structure includes pay-as-you-go for storage and add-on features. In addition to standard DAM capabilities, there are built-in integrations for Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Products, Oracle, Drupal, and Hootsuite. Enterprise organizations currently using MediaValet include the U.S. Naval Academy and the New England Patriots.
One of two integrated DAM on this list, Percolate's SaaS offerings are an "end-to-end" content marketing suite. Percolate includes standard DAM features, with an additional focus on production and publishing. While Percolate can easily scale to meet the needs of most digital marketing campaigns, the workflows are not necessarily designed to perform all of the print marketing needs of many enterprises. GE and Land O'Lakes are two of the brands who rely on Percolate for DAM currently.
This integrated, SaaS-based DAM tool is focused on the process of content production. Workfront offers a multi-channel DAM for both asset approval and internal distribution within an enterprise. Built-in workflows include options for asset planning, campaign planning, work queues, and even highly complex approval workflows. This DAM is also built to accommodate several different styles of project management. Clients include MicroVention and Scotiabank.
The only vendor to offer a SaaS-based DAM option for distributed marketing, CampaignDrive by Pica9 offers DAM that is built into a comprehensive framework for local marketing automation. Brand designers are able to create templates with flexible editing permissions to allow local partners to edit and customize compliant assets without compromising design integrity.
CampaignDrive provides an end-to-end framework for the control and flexibility brand management teams, and local partners, need. This includes templating, structured content management, fulfillment, sophisticated permissions structures, workflows, reporting, and more. Pica9 and CampaignDrive's clients include Marriott, Polaris, and The Melting Pot.
Winning with SaaS-Based Distributed DAM
For busy designers, brand managers, and local marketers at distributed organizations, SaaS-based DAM is generally a logical-choice. Cloud-based tools are a necessity in order to provide access to geographically distributed stakeholders, while SaaS offers a serious edge in terms of flexibility, ease-of-use, and 24/7 access from the web.
By choosing a DAM that is designed for the unique needs of distributed organizations, you can achieve an easier implementation and success with features like templating, sensitive permissions, and reporting. When coupled with a SaaS-based delivery model, DAM can revolutionize the way your distributed marketing organization works.