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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kevin Gepford on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Kevin Gepford on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Kevin Gepford. Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Gepford:  [0:10] I’m fine. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great. Kevin, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [0:16] I work for Comedy Central at their in‑house Brand Creative department. We create all the advertising, the billboards, the video promos, graphics for digital platforms such as iTunes, Xbox, and Hulu.

[0:30] Specifically, I work on the print side of things. I’ve got hands‑on involvement with our photo re‑touching. We also do the mechanical production and the final delivery of the files to their destination. I work in a team of brilliant right‑brain creatives, but I’m more of a left‑brain sort of person.

[0:48] I got interested in DAM originally as a self‑defense against the distractions of non‑core tasks. I’m talking about requests like digging up logos for someone, cracking open old archives just to print out an ad from last year, or hunting for a specific image among all the assets that we had that were scattered across the universe of portable hard drives, servers, optical media, and the like.

[1:15] The DAM that emerged from this is something that’s been a resource for the whole company for about 10 years, and it’s grown and evolved. Later, as time went by, it led to my involvement with content management. The volume and scope of our work had expanded tremendously, but our approval process didn’t grow along with it. It had become sheer chaos. It was in dire need of order and coherence, and I decided that this was an opportunity for me to make a bigger difference.

Henrik:  [1:46] Why does a television channel, focused on comedy programming, use Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [1:53] We use asset management to support our promotional efforts here. Just to be clear, I want you to know that this is not a function of our long‑form programming. We are part of Brand Creative, and our primary partner is the Marketing team. Everything that we do is focused on promotion and marketing, and the graphics that go into that production.

[2:17] I want to talk about the two prongs of asset management here at Comedy Central. The first one is DAM. These would be our libraries of static assets used across our advertising and promotional campaigns. The second is content management. We developed a system here to manage our internal work‑in‑progress. This could be the review and the approval of all of our creative output.

Henrik:  [2:42] What are the biggest challenges and successes that you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [2:45] For the first prong, Digital Asset Management, we started building our asset libraries about 10 year ago, as I said. All of our logos, our images, artwork, and including a PDF archive of all of our print work. That’s been updated over time ‑‑ not only the assets, but the back‑end ‑‑ but it still performs its original mission, for the most part.

[3:07] As far as challenges are concerned, I would say the first challenge was getting it off the ground. We obviously needed corporate resources so we could invest in the system, and then operate it on an ongoing basis.

[3:19] After that, it took a lot of work to prepare the assets. That’s the first step for any system that’s going from nothing to something. You’ve got to organize, you need to upload, and you need to keyword all the assets.

[3:32] After that, we had the ongoing challenge of keeping it up to date. The main issue for us, as I imagine it is for a lot of people, is that we don’t have a dedicated staff, so we do it in our down‑time. Even though we ourselves are dedicated to it, there’s often a lag between when an asset gets created and when it goes up to the library.

[3:51] For instance, if we do an entire ad campaign, the last thing we do before we archive it ‑‑ all the resource files, we make PDFs and put them in our asset library. So there’s a lag, depending on the scope of the campaign and how long it’s taking.

[4:08] After that, I would say probably the biggest challenge is just getting everybody on‑board. This took training, this took patience. People have been used to coming to my team directly, and just asking us for anything. Once we got this up and running, we would remind them to check the asset library first.

[4:27] Sometimes the thing they wanted wasn’t there, or it hadn’t been keyworded, or it just didn’t exist. Part of the training process was that we would fix the problem, upload the asset, and then make them go back and look again.

[4:40] This really went a long way to building good habits. Nowadays, people will come to me and say, “I already searched the library, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for.” And that’s really music to my ears.

[4:53] As far as successes are concerned, there’s a funny little story. A little while back, I was talking to my assistant, and I asked him, “Does anybody even use this system that we’ve put all our work into? I mean, why do we even bother?”

[5:05] He answered my question with a question. He asked me, “When is the last time that anyone came and asked you for a logo? The system is just working.”

“That’s when I knew [DAM] had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.”

[5:13] Almost prophetically, the system went down a few days later. Within about 30 minutes, I’d heard from about a half‑dozen people. That’s when I knew it had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.

[5:27] The second prong of asset management that I wanted to talk about is content management. I really enjoy talking about this, because it really is such an interesting project, and it’s made a profound difference in how we work.

[5:39] I think it really shows a path forward for our field as we imagine our future, and try to be more creative about how to make it dance.

[5:46] Our content management system is kind of like asset management on steroids. It’s active, it’s alive, and this has become a centerpiece where anyone can instantly see everything that we are doing, in real time, by visiting the site.

[6:00] Our content management system is a tool that we use, basically, to manage our work‑in‑progress. It has a longer name that nobody uses ‑‑ we call it the Creative Review and Approval System. It is, from the standpoint of most of our users, a Web based application.

[6:18] It lives in the cloud, and it’s used to coordinate the efforts of all of our design teams. The graphic designers, the Web designers, the animators ‑‑ they upload their work for review and approval. Then they can also get comments and updates from their team members.

[6:37] A great example of our workflow prior to this would be how we made Web banner ads. This is going back maybe four years. The team for building Web banner ads would be ‑‑ a developer on one end, the marketing department on the other, and in between you would have project managers, designers, and one or two or more creative directors.

[6:57] The number of individually posted files of updates and the number of emails about them, just to get one ad approved, was insane. All the comments were buried in enormous email‑chains. There was no way to really visually track an ad’s progress, and when the first ad was finally approved after 20 rounds, we had two dozen more to go. There was almost no way to really compare the ads to ensure consistency.

[7:26] What we built was a content management system to fix the process. Over time, we expanded and re‑built it so it would service not only the Web banner ads, but it would also serve the entire Brand Creative department, and it would be able to handle video clips, Web banner ads, and basically any kind of static asset.

[7:50] Now, all from one place, our users can do a number of common tasks. They can upload files, update it with new versions, they can email their team members, they can view and leave comments. Their managers can review, approve, and reject things. They can create lightboxes they can share with anybody.

[8:07] Then they can take anything that’s in the system and pretty much share with anybody else with just a couple of clicks. For the last piece, you could see the entire campaigns with just a click, it’s an automagic slideshow, for anyone that wants to review the entire campaign, or for any normal user who wants to just take a look and see what other departments are doing. The magic part, though, is when a campaign is archived, it becomes a searchable library of our completed work.

[8:38] So… challenges, you asked.

[8:41] Well, once again, it wasn’t easy to get resources for our initial investment. It took a lot of persuasion that what we envisioned would be a better product than anything we could get on the market. But then we got some seed money, and we were able to show proof of concept, and then grow it from there.

[8:59] A surprising challenge was simply getting the teams to work together and be open to sharing their ideas with each other. They really all liked living in their happy little silos. I got feedback from a couple of people that really were worried that their projects, which were so important to them, would just be sort of lost in all the other projects of other people that were working on the same campaign. From my perspective, that’s kind of the point. No man is an island, anymore. You are playing in a bigger sandbox.

Henrik:  [9:31] True.

Kevin:  [9:31] The other part of the challenge, for me, was just patience. It took more than a weekend to build this and I would say that it was the fruit of many months of development and testing, and we’re still getting comments and feedback. I got some comments just this week that we intend to work on to improve the functionality of our lightboxes. It’s a work‑in‑progress.

[9:55] Now, as far as successes are concerned, I would say that it’s pretty obvious. Everybody is just collaborating like we never have before. We’re talking to each other, we know who is working on the other projects, and we have quick ways of communicating with them, to get a visual overview of what we and other people are working on. So it really has, just by its design and by its very nature, helped collaboration.

[10:20] User engagement with the system is just phenomenal. My co‑workers and colleagues care enough to give feedback all the time, and it’s not all positive. Sometimes they come in and they just demand better features, or they have a great idea to make an improvement. Their engagement is just wonderful, and I appreciate it so much. Any kind of feedback is a sign that they care, rather than just accepting the status quo. That’s why we started this whole thing to begin with.

[10:52] Another success ‑‑ and this one totally surprised me ‑‑ our most popular feature turned out to be lightboxes. These have just revolutionized the way that we give presentations. There’s no more poking around in the middle of a meeting to find assets on a server somewhere. It just puts everything in a streamlined slideshow that you can navigate with the arrow key on your keyboard.

[11:16] This was a feature, I know and am glad to say, that nobody asked for, and nobody even imagined something like this could be possible. And yet, there it is, and they love it.

[11:29] The last thing, and this always gives me a chuckle. We kept the old system on standby. Just in case, you know? It slowly and gradually fell into disuse, and finally, when the old thing crashed, nobody even noticed for several days.

Henrik:  [11:46] [laughs]

Kevin:  [11:47] What does that tell you?

Henrik:  [11:48] Time to make it extinct.

Kevin:  [11:50] Yeah.

Henrik:  [11:52] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kevin:  [11:57] I am kind of a contrarian by nature, but I really think that formal education, maybe formal training, is not necessary to enter this field. It’s wide open for anybody who wants to make a difference. I really bet that if you took a survey of influential people in the field, very few have actually gone to school for it. What you need is a desire to make a difference ‑‑ a passion for it. It also helps if you get a lucky break and you have the right contacts.

[12:26] Lastly, I think anyone wanting to become a DAM professional needs determination and patience for the long journey.

Henrik:  [12:34] Great points. Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin:  [12:36] It’s a pleasure.

Henrik:  [12:38] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log on to AnotherDAMblog.com.

Another DAM Podcast is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com.

[12:54] Thanks again.

[Note: Kevin Gepford is one of the 55+ speakers at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference in New York City in May 2015.]


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Another DAM Podcast interview with Beth Goldstein on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Beth Goldstein on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Beth Goldstein.

[0:10] Beth, how are you?

Beth Goldstein:  [0:11] I’m good. Thank you. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great.

[0:13] Beth, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Beth:  [0:16] I’m the International Digital Asset Manager for my company. I train and evangelize our DAM to all our business partners across the globe.

Henrik:  [0:24] How does an American healthcare company use Digital Asset Management?

Beth:  [0:29] Even though we’re based here in the US, we really are extremely global. We as a company use our DAM internally to save time, money, and better leverage our investments in all of our creative content.

[0:41] We call our DAM, the e‑Library. The e‑Library is only one component of our greater and smarter digital initiative that we’ve been rolling out, to our marketing teams across the globe for the past three years.

Henrik:  [0:54] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Beth:  [0:57] Honestly, the biggest challenge is moving the business partners and marketers from the old way of doing business. Some of them believe in shared drive, SharePoint sites, USB drives, FTP sites, and many times all of these at once. Then seeing the value of going to a cloud‑based stand, where everything works harmoniously together.

[1:17] I believe that change management is a huge part of my job in engaging businesses, partners understanding I will just save them time and money. I think that change management is always going to be a problem whenever you’re dealing with lots and lots of people.

[1:31] But if you can show them in big steps, if you get one group together that has a big part of your digital asset like a global team, and get them lessons first and show that they’re uploading files, it tends to get the smaller teams excited as well. I believe our biggest success to date has been the adoption, since our launch last September, 2014.

[1:52] Currently we have over 41 countries trained and using, over 800 users, and over 10,000 digital assets in our e‑Library right now. Our biggest push was going to the global teams that create massive amounts of material like I was talking about, and showing them how easier they can create and distribute materials to country marketers.

[2:12] It was a big win for everyone in that conversation. Most of big companies have a lot of little countries like Malaysia, or Taiwan. They don’t have these big marketing budgets. But the global in US teams has much bigger budgets, so it’s easier for them to make these big pieces.

[2:26] iPad apps or big inactive PDFs, or videos, and be able to put them into our DAM. Then the countries can bring them down, localize them at a cost that is right for them, and use them.

Henrik:  [2:39] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

“…be relentless, but gentle…”

Beth:  [2:45] The advice I would give is to be relentless, but gentle with your business partners. I think that any new process people have to get used to the fact that they’ll be doing something different, or in a new way. Embrace that by making it fun.

[2:57] Have a naming contest for your DAM, which we did. The e‑Library was actually named by one of our employee, who wanted to make sure that it had a positive connotation and that it was brought in across the business, and that’s what we did.

[3:11] We also had a contest to see which team internally could have the most assets uploaded by a certain time. Our time frame was September to the end of the year, and we just got done with that contest. It created a lot of excitement and competition, which marketers are very competitive. It was a really great thing.

[3:27] I think that with my job here, a big portion of it is you have to believe in what you’re doing so that other people believe in it, to get them to buy in. If I don’t believe that what we have is amazing and is going to work for so many people, then no one else will.

[3:41] Believe in your DAM with your business partners as well. Also communicate. My DAM users continually hear about me, whether they like it or not. It’s not just something that we launched in September, and then just continue something that went into the background.

[3:55] I have weekly DAM Monday emails, and I kind of tongue in cheek say, “Again, it’s DAM Monday.” I give to them a tip or trick, or communicate to them that something big is coming, or training, or just asking for feedback.

[4:08] This is a really great way to be, but to continually keep it in the back of your mind that you have these tools out there, and you need to remember to go into it because it’s a new process. I also have every other month email communication newsletters that I send out, and that gives actual updates to integration, new things that are out there, new training, new team members, all that kind of stuff.

[4:30] If you want to become a DAM professional, definitely get into understanding how you can be a great business partner. I think that the job sits between a business partner and an IT. If you have a good background of both, then you’re able to be a good business partner and saying that you can communicate to the rest of the business.

[4:49] Not just the technical aspect, but what will be the benefit to the entire company. I think that you’re going to go far.

Henrik:  [4:56] Thank you so much Beth.

Beth:  [4:57] Of course.

Henrik:  [4:58] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com.

Another DAM Podcast is available on AudioBoom and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.

Note: Beth Goldstein is one of the 55+ speakers at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference in New York City in May 2015.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Michelle Lowe

Another DAM podcast interview with Michelle Lowe | Listen

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does an organization focused automobile advertising use Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes you have seen with DAM?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Michelle Lowe.
[0:09] Michelle, how are you?
Michelle Lowe: [0:10] Hi, Henrik, good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. Michelle, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
Michelle: [0:15] I am the Digital Asset Manager in an automotive agency, and I
was introduced to the Digital Asset Management more than a decade ago when
we started producing digital assets and that created a need of storage for all
the photography, illustration, videos. Now, in the recent years, we started the
apps, too, the applications. At the beginning, we created a rudimentary digital
storage. We didn’t have anything. We called it a jukebox. That was based on the
[0:37] hard drives, DVDs and servers, which didn’t work very well with us.
But later on, we were able to acquire a Digital Asset Management system, and
our lives completely changed, became a lot easier.
[1:01] A couple of years ago, I moved to another agency that didn’t have any
type of storage system. They were in big need of a DAM. With my previous experience,
I was able to put in place a Digital Asset Management system, making
sure all the assets are easy to be accessed, the metadata is correct, the rights
and expiration dates are up to date. For legal matters, this is very important in
the advertising world.
[1:30] I am responsible for adjusting and processing all the agency’s assets and,
also, for delivering them to our clients’ central DAM system. They have one, too,
because they have many agencies they work with. They use all the assets such
as digital assets, from every other agency.
[1:51] Our agency’s digital asset system is a central repository where every art
director, or designer, or buyer, competitor even, account executives can access
the assets and use them for their project.
[2:05] DAM is a very flexible storage system, we have all kinds of files, APS, has
JPEG s in designs. We have them in all kinds, audio and video files, too. That
helps a lot.
Henrik: [2:21] How does an organization focused on automobile advertising use
Digital Asset Management?
Michelle: [2:26] Because our client operates globally, we must be efficient.
When it comes to digital assets, advertising now is a very fast paced environment
and projects have a quick turn around and having DAM systems helps immensely.
[2:41] We’re introducing a very large number of assets with our projects
but at the same time, for budget purposes, we have to share the assets with
other agencies that work for the same clients. To meet these needs, we deliver
to our client everything we create along with the metadata and they add them
to their central DAM system where the other agencies, around the world, have
access to.
Henrik: [3:07] What are the biggest challenges and success that you’ve seen
with Digital Asset Management?
Michelle: [3:11] Usually, adoption would be one challenge, and getting people
to know about Digital Asset Management system and accepting it and finally
using it. But since I have the system, I had to train and many times, I go one-onone
team members and it’s challenging. [3:30] Another challenge is the metadata
which is a very important part of any DAM system and everyone needs to
be
involved in it, in the input of it. Not only for the legal aspect of it but also
because the quality of the metadata we applied to the assets can affect the
chances of them being found and subsequently used. Every word becomes
of keyword.
[3:55] Eventually, if you research that, DAM has a great future. I would like to be
better at it that and advertising. It’s a challenge, at this point, too. That’s the
best thing when we have our colleagues and team members learning something
about it and working with it and finding that it’s making their lives a lot easier
that is the best thing.
Henrik: [4:23] What advice would you like to share with other DAM professionals
and people aspiring to be DAM professionals?
Michelle: [4:27] A Digital Asset Manager needs to have great organizational
skills, be focused, and try to stay consistent. I think a bit OCD, if I can say that
would actually work because a perfectionist is an ideal candidate for the DAM.
[4:46] Another advice would be understand the user’s rights and copyright law
and really understand the work flow process of your organization that you are
involved with that is very, very important.
[5:00] I’ve been doing this for a while and I think working on DAM is just perfect
because it gives you challenges and gives you joy. Every day, I can tell you,
it’s the best.
Henrik: [5:13] Thank you, Michelle.
Michelle: [5:14] You’re welcome. It was a great pleasure.
Henrik: [5:17] For more on Digital Asset Management topics, log on to
AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo and
iTunes. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at
AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.

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