Digital asset management (DAM), a process in which a secure central repository helps streamline the creation, management and monetization of digital assets, is one that publishers are continuing to adopt even in a down market. With origins in prepress and production services, DAM aims to integrate asset management and production seamlessly, particularly while working with design programs Quark and InDesign.

“The greatest asset is that it dramatically improves organization, task automation, and content repurposing,” says Jeremy Carlson, Advanstar’s manager of digital prepress, digital imaging and media operations, “which ultimately should equate to any publisher’s bottom line of reducing labor costs associated with asset trafficking, reducing design cycle time, and increasing revenue by simplifying the content repurposing process.”

Bringing It In-House

The pros of a DAM system are such that publishers even seem to be bringing systems in-house “rather than sending out this work as a way to reduce the time to press,” says DAM vendor Xinet CEO Scott Seebass. With hardware requirements becoming significantly less expensive, “there is no longer a huge barrier of investment to doing it yourself,” he adds. Implementing a DAM could even be a savings measure for publishers, although most likely won’t see savings in the first year.

Historically, weeklies have been avid DAM adopters due to their need to quickly process and track huge amounts of photos. “This market pushes the limits of technology amazingly, since it’s all about who can get their magazine out first,” says Seebass. And now, in addition to weeklies, a number of other publishers that are integrating user generated submissions and content into their offerings are also opting for DAM.

When Advanstar purchased its system in 2002 through Xinet, it was used mainly as a tape archiving system. True implementation didn’t come until 2006, when they discovered and expanded the full functionality to serve company-wide across all of editorial locations. But before implementation, Carlson explored a number of key company considerations:

1. Ease of integration with the prepress systems. Does it dovetail with our design application?

2. Is the cost structure designed at an enterprise level, or per seat licensing?

3. Will a system integrator support both our DAM and other prepress systems under one umbrella?

4. Does it follow open standards allowing customization, or is it proprietary?  

5. How far can we push the automation as to save staff from doing repetitive tasks?

6. Is it platform neutral?

Advanstar’s system now houses XMP metadata, image tracking, a low resolution FPO/OPI workflow, a centralized image repository, as well as a self-serve Web portal for external downloads for content repurposing.

Digital’s Backbone

New to the scene is F+W Media, which began DAM implementation around 18 months ago with vendor Mark Logic. “It is not a single build, but rather an evolutionary process based on different types of content we offer, the ways in which we deliver that content, digitally, and the different businesses we wish to enter,” says John Lerner, executive vice president of e-media. “We really looked at the business plans for the new products, and revenue that we could generate from our content, and then looked at the platforms that would enable us to get there,” he says.

They anticipate their DAM to be the backbone for new digital products. “We recently launched a report service on that leverages our archived content and pricing data to generate unique reports on Old Cars that includes photos, car features, values based on car condition and recent auction prices realized,” says Lerner. “As we continue to update this content through DAM, we will continue to grow the online service and we are now able to create new print products based on the reports generated.” F+W Media plans to use its system as a tool to innovate digitally while leveraging both archive and current content.

Expanding Archived Content

An early adopter, Rodale implemented its full DAM in October 2005  with vendor North Plains’ Telescope. But prior to this, Rodale relied on “internal systems to manage some components of our content as a work around,” says publishing systems manager Sandie Roberts.

In addition to housing six years of books and magazine archives, its DAM system includes all design files, images, extracted text, multiple resolutions of the PDF for the full product, correction information for reprints and various other formats. It has a “recipe repository that captures recipes from our printed products, as well as ones submitted through our online tools, with over 10,000 recipes with a rich metadata model,” says Roberts. It also includes article abstracts, original content prepared by staff librarians, and an image repository of photo shoot outtakes.

Enterprise Is the Future

For his part, Carlson would like to see DAM integrate on an enterprise level with other publishing systems. “This way, our ad booking system can identify incoming ad materials submitted through our ad portal, then relay that information to our DAM, which could then submit to our prepress workflow system and finally flow into a folio system (used for ad/edit mapping) for print, and a CMS system for Web.” While this is currently possible with Advanstar’s DAM and by using XML/metadata, “It’s just a matter of investment in system customization to fit the pieces together,” he says.

Improvement in the rights management arena is key for Roberts, as is the ability to link that information to the appropriate assets. “This is an area that is getting more complex and publishers need a tool to capture and manage all the possible rights scenarios for a product and its related assets. We’re looking at workflow tools to streamline the production process.”

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Check out this related session at The Folio: Show, November 1-2 in NYC!

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