If you’re running a media business - or any modern brand - digital assets are the lifeblood flowing through its veins. Their smooth movement, and the ability to even find them in the first place, is essential to delivering on the business goals. When things go wrong, go missing, or get stuck, all kinds of chaos can ensue.
We’ve all experienced the panic of discovering we’re working on the wrong file. Many of us have had to deal with the delays and embarrassment of losing media assets, and the knock-on effects and costs of having to recreate them in a hurry.
In fact, media businesses encounter the same asset-management pain points again and again. Whether it’s the 19% or so of time a social manager spends simply looking for files, the 27% of UK marketing professionals who struggle to collaborate on digital assets, or the 5% or more of all assets that end up being duplicated - with the costs and inefficiencies that go with them.
But the hassles aren’t insurmountable. In even the busiest brands and publishers, a media asset management (MAM) platform can ensure the smooth flow of assets throughout their lifecycle. So what is a MAM, and how can it cure your headaches?
Our MAM on the inside
We’ve written before about media asset management, a specialisation of digital asset management that’s focused on media assets such as images and videos. In a nutshell, a MAM platform is an intelligent file storage system, designed to support and streamline the production, storage, retrieval and archiving of digital media assets. In practice, that means a large on-premises, cloud or hybrid store, with assets actually managed by purpose-designed software.
A fully featured MAM such as Imagen Pro fits right into the content production and distribution workflows of any broadcast, digital media or publishing company. It provides a secure space to store critical media and other IP, with inbuilt mechanisms to accelerate distribution, and even maximise the value of media through monetisation. And additional collaborative tools support production and approval processes, driving greater efficiencies.
(Don’t) bring the pain!
Stop us if you’ve heard one of these before. But the potential pitfalls and pain points of media production and distribution can easily be broken down into four major categories:
● Asset creation - the highly collaborative process of producing media in the first place
● Asset management - the complex task of keeping thousands of files secure and being able to find them again
● Asset delivery - the technical challenge of getting large file sets to stakeholders, broadcast partners or viewers
● Asset archiving - the organisational challenge of storing assets long-term, while allowing for easy repurposing or reuse
Never underestimate the potential for things to go wrong from the beginning. Media production workflows are necessarily complex, as they often span multiple contributors - either in-house, or across agencies and freelancers. Add in multiple revisions, formats and technologies, plus the need to involve compliance and other stakeholders, and it’s almost a wonder that everything works at all.
Common asset creation problems often stem from informal asset sharing and storage. Versions are kept on someone’s hard disk, maybe shared via a freemium web service, and nobody really knows who’s got the latest version or who’s meant to be working on it. Without collaborative tools, it’s even hard to understand what needs doing.
Result? Work goes missing, gets duplicated, or you end up with two conflicting edits to reconcile.
Worst case? Valuable IP ends up in the public domain.
How a MAM helps: Brings order and security to asset storage and sharing. User controls prevent unauthorised access. Version control prevents accidental ‘forking’, while integrated approvals prevent draft or uncleared content leaking out.
We were onsite producing hours and hours of content from some of our biggest events. The producers can sit and upload content straight away, and it’s delivered to the client within minutesSee how Imagen acts as a near-live media centre for WTA Media
Even a small agency will quickly amass thousands of files. Major publishers or distributors end up with petabytes of content across hundreds of thousands of assets. Sure, you can store it all on a network server, but how do you manage permissions? How do you ensure everyone sticks to the right file and folder naming conventions? And if they don’t, good luck remembering filenames like ‘cast_int_reel_v7.mov’ when you need them. What was that for again?
When it’s hard to find individual files, or keep them together as a project, content goes missing. That’s a massive timewaster for the people who need to go looking. It’s worse when assets are permanently lost, and you need to track down the source material to recreate them.
Result? Time wasted looking for work. Big expense of recreating missing work.
Worst case? Unique assets going missing forever.
How a MAM helps: Adds layers of searchability through imported, automatic and manually added metadata. Can structure assets by team or project, and assign granular access permissions,
When IP and licensed content is your business, the words “I’ll just stick it on Dropbox” should strike fear into your heart. Professional media management demands more than improvised file distribution through free internet tools. Your distribution partners expect rapid, secure delivery of assets that could be terabytes in size. Broadcast partners might want integration with their over-the-top (OTT) delivery systems. You can’t do that with free accounts and fingers crossed.
But asset delivery isn’t just about digitally getting media to where it’s needed. Are you wondering who’s watching your content? Maybe you’re spending hours finding media and sending it to clients, rather than letting them search for it themselves? And maybe you’re missing opportunities to cut out the middle men, and simply license, sell or deliver content yourself?
Result? Amateurish and slow distribution. Missed opportunities to monetise library content, for example through licensing or direct streaming.
Worst case? Business opportunities lost to slicker, easier, more modern rivals.
How a MAM helps: Streamlines content delivery through features like high-bandwidth regional hubs. Provides API for automated push downloads of new content. Encourages self-service licensing and downloading via branded web portals.
We know we’re going to be able to hit those deadlines when we’re uploading and delivering with ImagenDiscover how we help Auburn University tackle its athletics content distribution
End-of-life content presents a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, you don’t want stale files clogging up expensive and limited hot storage. On the other, waving old assets off to offline archives means you could miss out on opportunities to relaunch, repackage or re-use timeless content.
The value of media shifts over time. There’s a market for remastered classics, out-takes, clips, anniversary editions - the list goes on. If you can’t remember what’s in your archive, or it’ll take months to find it, you’re going to miss out.
Result? Unsearchable, ice-cold archives deter the re-use or rediscovery of archive material.
Worst case? Lost business, lost value - even lost classics.
How a MAM helps: Don’t let your old assets die! The best MAMs help you manage them across hot, cold and deep archive storage. All assets are accessed and searchable from the same place. You don’t lose sight of the archive, allowing its use and reuse to generate ongoing revenue.
Our aim has always been to create the world’s best sports archive and this is a major step in achieving our goal.Discover how we power IMG Replay’s B2B footage licensing platform
The right MAM for the job
A MAM can cure all these headaches and more, but only if you choose a partner who can understand and meet your needs. Every business has unique requirements for storing, managing and distributing content, so look for a provider who’ll take the time to properly evaluate and plan for yours.
It’s important to choose a MAM partner with deep experience in asset management too, supporting customers with similar businesses, customers or requirements to your own. It’s vital to ask for testimonials, and to specifically check for smooth onboarding and ongoing support.
At Imagen we’ve been providing media management solutions for over 25 years. We help some of the world’s leading media and broadcast companies manage, distribute and monetise irreplaceable and priceless assets. If you’re enduring the pain of dated, improvised or overwhelmed systems, why not let us help you find the cure?