The elephant under the desk…

The elephant under the desk…

Traditionally production is a clear transactional cost. You brief your ad agency, and they brief a production company. Your marketing coffers dip by a few hundred thousand dollars and a few months later you have a TV commercial on air. You enjoyed the catering and have your fingers crossed that sales spike as a result of this enormous expense. It was easy.

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However, tradition is dead. Digital production techniques and an explosion in media fragmentation have delivered huge savings in production costs, alongside an exponential growth in need for rich media assets. Marketers now need to have rich media assets in market across channels as varied as social media portals, influencer blogs, video-on-demand channels, mobile banner placements and promotional events.

The average marketing professional and C-suite executive has to be able to budget for not only proactive marketing spend, but also for reactive marketing opportunities, be highly agile, and engage in conversations with customers. The marketing landscape is increasingly daunting and costly, and requires a vast myriad of media assets spread across an equally vast village of suppliers to address it all effectively.

So how do you manage all these media assets? How do you get the best value from them? How can you create an environment where your village of suppliers has agile access to your pool of rich media? And how do you handle the exponential growth of this data pool into the future?

Asset management is one of the key focal points for marketers in Europe and the USA for 2014, and is equally key in our marketplace. There are three simple rules for finding an asset management solution:

1. Independence = control

Make certain you have complete, untethered control of your media assets. Whether that means building an on-premise system from scratch, or subscribing to a cloud-based, stand-alone solution, take real ownership of your digital media assets.

Over time there is no question that you will change your creative and transactional marketing supply chains. The average agency-client relationship now lasts under three years* , and the average CMO tenure is 43 months. A company, therefore, must see their rich media assets as exactly that – assets.

Safeguard them from the inherent instability of transactional business influences. For example: your car (an asset) is not housed every night at your mechanic’s workshop (transactional supplier). If it were, you would not have recourse to find the best value mechanical supplier. You would be beholden to their prices for everything you wanted to do with that asset – fuel, servicing, oil, etc. It stands to reason that you keep your car independent of that transactional supplier.

This is the number one pitfall in digital asset management. Asset management is a very long game, while transactional business is by definition immediate. Transactional costs will always fluctuate, especially in the commoditised media marketplace. It is imperative that your asset management costs be stable and predictable (and low of course) while enabling value to be continually sought in your transactional business operations.

2. A fenced pool with a turnstile

Specialist agencies are sprouting up everywhere like flowers in the spring. It seems they can grow from almost nothing. The barriers to entry in the marketing supply chain are zero. Which means people can specialise. Really talented people are drilling down to what they are great at, and opening small companies that are truly the best at what they do. Which is awesome. It means you can have the very best creative team in the city, working alongside the very best social media specialists, alongside the coolest film director, alongside the best PR, alongside freelance editors and digital specialists. There is no chance, whatsoever, that these people all work at the same place. But, they will all need access to your pool of rich media assets. And they will probably need it simultaneously. And some might be overseas.

A web-based interface for your rich media pool is obviously the answer. At the same time, however, you need control. Some suppliers might be working on your competitor’s business, so you need to be able to silo your media to a degree that enables easy, clear collaboration across a village of suppliers, yet has trackable footprints, watermarks, or confirmation protocols so there is accountability and clarity of use.

Finally, you need the ability to grant or revoke access in a moment. You should be able to open the gate to your pool for new suppliers immediately, so they can create value from day one.

3. Collation delivers long term, measurable ROI.

Right now, your digital assets are worth nothing. They are brought to life as an expense line in the P+L. They flare briefly on a few screens, then disappear forever. Some see out their days on dusty portable drives under a desk in an ad agency. Others have made it to proper data storage, only to be lost in the blizzard of compounding media assets – literally an un-marked stalk of hay buried in a haystack. These ‘assets’ are not assets at all. They can’t be found, and in turn have no worth because they can’t be found.

If you collate, store and manage these assets properly, however, they can be considered exactly that – assets. If you have an asset that your business derives value from over time, then you can list it on your balance sheet. It can be depreciated over its useful life. It can deliver measurable value to the bottom line of your business.  But, like any other asset, the digital asset has to be considered useful and in working order – so you have to collate your pool of assets well, and keep them safe.

Warwick Boulter, founding partner, Vision Vault