What Are Digital Assets?

Professionals in nearly every industry can agree on one thing: technology has sped up the business cycle. A glitch here and there may hold things up, but for the most part, it allows businesses to run faster, more efficiently, and more affordably. This is most apparent in how businesses handle digital assets.

But what, exactly, are digital assets? Quite simply, they’re assets that exist in the digital sphere. Many assets are digital because they were created there, while some migrated from other forms of media but are shared and stored on digital channels. Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes a digital asset, and what your business has to do to properly manage yours.

What is a digital asset?

A digital asset is any valuable piece of content in a digital format. This includes assets that were created digitally, as well as those created offline and later stored on a server. And if that sounds like a broad definition, that’s because it encompasses pretty much everything from emails and account information to videos and photos.

A digital asset is any valuable piece of content in a digital format. This includes assets that were created digitally, as well as those create offline and later stored on a server.

The value of these assets depends on the situation. Some assets have a sentimental value or can’t be replaced, such as old family photos. Others are valuable because of their financial worth. Your logo, for example, is a valuable digital asset because it enables you to differentiate your online presence from other companies.

What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of digital assets?

Your organization uses a variety of channels to reach out to customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Throughout every instance of communication, your brand identity needs to be consistent, and without digital assets, this would be nearly impossible to do.

For one thing, you’d have to spend more time looking for logos and other branding elements. What’s worse, you might have to reproduce certain items from other reproductions, lowering the overall quality of the content.

Plus, time isn’t the only thing you’d lose without digital assets. You’d also lose money trying to replicate an asset that already exists, and you’d waste space—digital and otherwise—if you had multiple versions of the same information.

Despite all the benefits of digital assets, they can present drawbacks if not managed properly.

Organization is a major challenge with digital assets, particularly as your number of assets grows. When managing files for your own personal use, you may be able to identify files based on a hierarchy and naming system that makes sense to you. An organization has thousands of people, though, so assets need to be easy for everyone to categorize, store and retrieve.

When managing files for your own personal use, you may be able to identify files based on a hierarchy and naming system that makes sense to you

Security is another major issue, and a tricky one at that. On one hand, assets have to be easy to retrieve for the people responsible for producing and distributing content. On the other hand, protections need to be in place, so unauthorized users can’t use them improperly. Protocols are necessary to make sure that the only people who have access are the ones who absolutely need to.

How should you manage digital assets?

Digital assets are intended to make certain business functions faster, more efficient, and less costly. If they’re going to keep things running smoothly in your organization, they need to be managed properly. Whether you want to keep assets in-house or delegate the task to an outside agency, your digital asset management program should include the following elements:

  • A clear hierarchy
  • An easy-to-understand naming system
  • Consistent formats

A clear hierarchy

The total number of digital assets in your organization could be in the thousands. If they’re held in one folder or scattered across random areas of your database, they can’t be found quickly or easily. Your organizational structure should enable both.

It doesn’t matter how you organize assets, as long as everyone in your organization is aware of the system. A good rule of thumb is to categorize them on a set of broad criteria, then break them down by more specific details. For instance, you might organize them according to content type, then format, then the year. Or you could organize them according to file type, department, and campaign. This will also help with the second step.

An easy-to-understand naming system

When a file name is confusing or obscure, your employees could waste valuable time trying to figure out what it is. Instead of forcing users to guess what they’re retrieving, use file names that leave no doubt as to which assets are included in a folder or subfolder.

Let’s say you want to organize every infographic your organization has ever created. Don’t give them vague names like “Infographic 1” or “2015 Infographic.” Include the title, campaign, publication date and any other information that will set it apart from similar assets. This not only makes assets easier to find, but it also makes them easier to move if the file is misplaced, or you decide to implement a new organizational system.

Consistent formats

Content comes in all sorts of formats, from text and video to PDF and spreadsheets. You can use a variety of programs to access these files, depending on how they’re saved. Of course, this can present a problem if content is created in one format but has to be accessed in another. Avoid the issue by saving all assets using standard formats.

Stick with formats that are widely accepted. For video files, this would be MPEG or .wmv, while photos are best when saved as JPEG or GIF files. The format should also allow you to manipulate the files for different channels and platforms. Whatever format you choose, it should be flexible, easy to use, and universal across all assets.

Want to learn more about digital assets?

Digital assets ensure consistency across every online marketing channel you use. They’re also a valuable part of your strategy, and it’s important that you manage them well.

If you have any questions about digital assets and the role they play in your company’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact us! We’re more than happy to discuss how you can use your digital assets to improve your online strategy and start reaching new customers.