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Why you should give a DAM about archive management

Archive management is rarely a problem when content libraries are small and files number in the hundreds. But when they grow to thousands, and to hundreds of thousands, you’ll be glad of the easy organisation that a scalable digital asset management platform can provide.

By: Lydia Bird


Archive management is an under-rated skillset, especially in today’s digital world. However, the fact is that businesses of all sizes are beginning to wake up to the value of archive content, and begin to place greater emphasis on extracting it.

According to Statista, global storage capacity reached 6.7 zettabytes in 2020 and it is forecast to grow annually by 19.2%. Other Statista data suggests that this capacity will quickly double, rising to around 13.2 zettabytes by 2024. But storing data is one thing. Having the ability to search through ever-growing digital archives is quite another.

It’s where archive management software comes in. The central concept behind archive management is a simple one – when assets are no longer current, they are filed away to save space. However, while this process is helpful to streamline day-to-day operations, and ensure that the most recent and high-demand assets are front and centre, there is a risk that large quantities of useful IP and media value can be dropped into an archive and subsequently forgotten.

Archive management encapsulates a series of processes and technologies that ensure archived assets can easily be identified and retrieved for re-use or repurposing.

Archive management: Key benefits

There are many benefits to archive management, not only smoothing and enhancing everyday workflows, but also ensuring that the considerable value of older assets is not lost.

● A single source of truth: One obvious example is in avoiding duplication of assets, especially in larger organisations, where not all international teams may be automatically aware of regional initiatives and campaigns.

● Compliance: Duplication can extend far beyond the asset itself however, especially in today’s complex media rights environment, where simply having an image or video clip is often next to useless in the context of a large organisation’s marketing strategy without compliance considerations being met.

● Discovery and re-use: High-quality metadata is a crucial element in any decent digital asset management (DAM) system and the core of archive management – i.e. the ability to discover, and re-discover, digital assets. After all, 37% of UK-based marketing professionals we questioned in Imagen’s 2021 Marketing Tech Report said that it takes them several minutes to find an asset. A further 21% are unsure of where to find the correct file.

New technologies bring new ways of thinking

In a traditional media architecture, new and current assets might be stored on networked hard drives, with the archiving process consisting of moving batches of older, less-frequently accessed assets to an offline storage medium, such as tape.

However, with the falling cost of cloud storage and ever-faster communication networks, the need to physically archive assets is increasingly unnecessary. Today’s DAMs take more of a layered approach, with direct top-level links to current ‘live’ assets and collaborations, and lower-level links or powerful semantic search to access ‘archived’ content.

This style of cloud structure allows current projects and workflows to co-exist with older content without the need to apply specific processes to older assets, cutting out significant amounts of work to identify, classify and move ‘archive’ assets. With high-quality metadata and the help of tools like speech to text, relevant content can be surfaced rapidly and re-used if needed, all without cumbersome additional processes and workflow fragmentation.


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The big question: ROI

One question that will inform the specific value of archive management is the source of your business assets. Are they created in house, built and supplied by external vendors and contractors, or commissioned from an agency? While all of these sources have inherent value, the latter two may have a more obvious ROI paper trail, while the in-house creation valuation may come down to man-hours or similar.

However, in the case of agency and external creation costs, it’s not hard to understand how quickly archive management will start to pay dividends, especially in a globalised context.

One Imagen client, BP, was keen to find a DAM solution to manage and share more than 20,000 hours of video content, globally. That content is produced mainly in-house, but also by external agencies. At the time of implementation, this involved 100TB of archived content – a substantial volume to handle without a well-designed DAM. In this case, the value has been global accessibility and ease of access to content for internal and external BP stakeholders.


video on demand - roi

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The power of process

Whatever the size of the organisation, there are concrete benefits to be realised by applying archive management principles – especially in terms of streamlining the internal asset lifecycle process. Although this is different for every company, and further tailored to specific sectors, there are a variety of important questions to consider:

1. What is the main source of the company’s assets (i.e. internal vs enternal)?
2. What is the selection criteria being used?
3. How future-proof is that criteria?
4. How will assets be ingested into the DAM? For example; is the process flexible, but detailed enough to ensure that high-quality metadata is being captured and linked to assets at the point of upload?

This last one is a crucial point, as without metadata, finding relevant assets in the future will be more luck than judgement, undermining the value of the archive. Although good quality DAM systems such as Imagen Pro offer admins the ability to bulk-modify metadata, ensuring that individual uploads from stakeholders are already as complete as possible saves many man hours later.

Finally, preservation of the assets may be a whole strategy piece in itself – which assets need to be preserved, and for how long? Is this a cost-effective and sustainable process in terms of workload and ongoing storage? Thinking about the longer term as part of the asset lifecycle process is vital for ensuring that maximum value can be extracted from assets.

Getting the most out of your archive

Although archive management might seem complex at first sight, with the right system in place it can be simple and easy. The role of a well-configured DAM is one that suits your business needs tomorrow and into the future. But its first task is to enhance and rebalance the workflows of today.


Discover how to future-proof your digital assets with Imagen’s archive management software tools.

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