Another DAM Podcast

Audio about Digital Asset Management

Another DAM Podcast interview with Bryan Cohen on Digital Asset Management


Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Bryan Cohen. Bryan, how are you?

Bryan Cohen:  [0:10] I’m great, thanks. Thanks for having me on the podcast today. I appreciate the invite.

Henrik:  [0:14] Bryan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [0:17] I’m the Digital Platform Lead for Pfizer. My main role is overseeing the digital platform that we use for review and approval of all of our pharmaceutical promotional materials. That’s a global system that has about 5,000 users.

Henrik:  [0:33] How does a leading research based biopharmaceutical company use Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [0:39] We use it in a couple of different ways. Our key is because we are so highly regulated with what we can actually show to consumers and what we can actually show to our healthcare providers. Our main focus with Digital Asset Management is to review and approval process for all the materials that we create.

[0:57] A lot of people don’t realize…much like a magazine, or a newspaper, even an online website…the amount of review that goes into every little PC you see, whether it’s in a doctor’s office, or commercial TV, or even a radio ad. It goes through a very intense review and approval process.

[1:16] Not just from an editorial standpoint, but also from a medical, legal, and regulatory standpoint, before even gets submitted to the FDA. That is our main focus. There are tons of different rules and regulations. United States is the most highly regulated. There are certain rules in Canada, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and even in the European Union there are about 15 or 20 different regulatory bodies that all have different rules and tweaks, and things that they require.

[1:46] Our review and approval system is almost like one global system that manages a hundred different newspapers with different languages. We have that complexity as well. On top of that, what we are trying to really get our hands around with the rapid pace that we have with acquisitions with companies that we’re either merging with, or smaller pharmaceutical companies that we recently purchased.

[2:10] We’re trying to get our hands around, not only their review and approval system but also their asset management. The pure thing when you think of DAM, normally images, videos, sound files, all of that stuff of course it’s different everywhere.

[2:24] It’s something that we’re even internally at Pfizer trying to get our hands around. With all of this electronic content that we’ve created, with these huge transitions you’re going all digital from a cost perspective and efficiency, and even in efficacy perspective with our advertising.

[2:40] We’re trying to really get our hands around and control all of that intellectual property. We use it at its core for review and approval. The larger picture is figuring out how to get our hands around these assets so we can drive more towards a custom, maybe not necessarily custom, but omni channel marketing and more targeted marketing flexibility with our assets.

Henrik:  [3:05] Bryan, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [3:10] The biggest challenge for us is trying to convince folks at Pfizer, and even within all our pharmaceutical, the key to really have their hands on an intellectual property. A lot of pharma companies have outsourced the creation of that content. We have all kinds of things that we’ve purchased at agencies, and buried in their storage.

[3:32] The only thing we might see are the two or three photos that we might have used in a particular piece. The challenge is really a perception challenge. We don’t make money out of this digital content that we create.

[3:44] It helps to drive sales, but we’re not Huffington Post. We’re not AOL. A lot of these companies that make content and then make money directly from that content, either through subscription or advertising on their website.

[3:58] Convincing internal executives, and convincing just people in general at Pfizer of the need to focus on access. I don’t necessarily want to say control, but access of understanding of those digital assets is a huge challenge.

[4:16] As you would imagine, they’re focused on producing medicine. They’re focused on producing pharmaceuticals or consumer medicines, and getting those things to market. They’re focused on marketing as a whole and as a platform. Not necessarily worried about the nitty-gritty of how we manage metadata within the Digital Asset Management system.

[4:35] It’s not as sexy to them, and it’s not a focus because they don’t make money directly out of it. However they’re also starting to struggle with understanding what everything is. In order to create all these apps, and websites, and advertisements. The increasingly frustrated, the marketing teams are, with understanding what they already have out there so they can get market quicker.

[4:57] That is our biggest challenge. Our biggest success, I would have to say, over the last few years, at least for us, is going to more of a global mindset with what we create and being able to share this content from region to region or country to country and then fine‑tuning it.

[5:12] That obviously saves cost, but more than anything it gives teams the ability to leverage the things have been created in other places and are effective in other places, and customize that for a local market.

[5:23] We can get to the market quicker if, say, a drug is approved in another country, which happens all the time. It might be approved in the United Sates. A month or two later, it’s approved in Brazil. We need to be able to deploy materials quickly. We can’t recreate all these materials, all the time.

[5:40] Our global platform is a huge success and a big step forward in being able to accomplish that.

Henrik:  [5:46] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Bryan:  [5:51] That’s a really good question. I have to say from a personal experience I never aspired to become a [laughs] Digital Asset Management professional. Really these two questions here are…one leads into another.

[6:05] In a sense that I got into this industry, maybe 20 years ago, totally by accident I started as a graphic designer, and then realized that I really didn’t have the talent [laughs] to be a very good graphic designer.

[6:20] I also realized it’s difficult to make a very good living as a graphic designer. More than anything I noticed that I was way more into the background, the functioning of the applications. I was in desktop publishing and I used to use PageMaker, Quark, and then InDesign.

[6:37] I found that I really like the technical aspect of it more than artistic side of it. Even if I was an art director for a little while at The Wall Street Journal, and even though I did that, I designed pages and special sections, I found that I was much better using an artistic eye than I was creating the art myself.

[6:58] That really transferred into Digital Asset Management working on these large workflow systems and giving a little bit more into how these systems actually connect and make things happen.

[7:11] Becoming at Digital Asset Management professional, I would say that my biggest advice would be to get some experience in how these systems are used. It’s difficult to step right into a Digital Asset Management project and have expertise, because the large ones may only happen a few times right in your professional career.

[7:30] Rather may be better to gain some experience as a user. What we say is on the business side and not focus as much on the technical side. If you do that, then you get a much better understanding of your users and you’re able to transition that into the setup, the configuration, and get an understanding of really what the workflow needs.

[7:50] If you do that, it comes across in your language as you’re addressing your user community and addressing their concerns when you’re trying to roll out these big systems. You tend to give an increased buy‑in when that happens.

[8:03] The final thing that I would really say was first people aspiring to become a Digital Asset Management professional is that as I look back, I see that everything drove to really me being in this profession, but when I was making those decisions to go from role to role, it was never with a…I want to be a Digital Asset Management person and professional as the end game.

[8:29] Rather it was, accepting challenges along the career path that brought into my experience. That’s probably the best advice that I can give. It’s to not turn down opportunities on projects or even new jobs just because they don’t fit tightly within a little box.

[8:47] Use your experience, and then grow.

Henrik:  [8:48] Great advice. Thanks, Bryan.

Bryan:  [8:50] Anytime. I love talking about Digital Asset Management. I’d say this is really a piece of technology that people don’t realize how much it has to do with what they see on their phones, or televisions, or anything, and as we become so digital in our daily lives, be able to manage digital assets and manage that data, and really respond to marketing needs and trends.

[9:15] It’s more critical now than it was 20 years ago when we were pre‑TV, radio, and that was about it. The flexibility that the web has given us…has made our profession just as important as a software engineer or anyone of those program creators, because we have the ability to really the entire horizon when it comes to these things that we’re driving out to our customers.

Henrik:  [9:39] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this and 170 other podcast episodes, go to If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email

[9:56] Thanks again.

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How can I use DAM to assist with preliminary research?

Based on the blog post from Another DAM blog:

Written and read by Henrik de Gyor

Listen to Another DAM Podcast on Apple PodcastsAudioBoomCastBoxGoogle Podcasts,  RadioPublicRSSSpotify or TuneIn

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Jennifer Tyner on Digital Asset Management

Jennifer Tyner discusses Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a research university use Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Jennifer Tyner.
Jennifer, how are you?
Jennifer Tyner: [0:10] I’m great. How are you today?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. Jennifer, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Jennifer: [0:15] Well, I first became interested in Digital Asset Management
when I was in graduate school and I took a cataloguing class. I was just really
intrigued by it, because our professor showed us an example. Of course, he
used their real database they were using at the time in the Museum where he
worked, and he showed an example of a screen with an item, an object in their
collection, and how it was catalogued. [0:42] Then he showed another screen
where he had listed out the name of a provenance, a certain provenance. And
the name of this provenance or company that had donated materials to that
museum was written out at least 10 to 15 different ways. It was written sometimes
as two words or three words. Sometimes with hyphens. Sometimes all
as one word with no spaces, or a shortened word or an acronym. So over the
years, they had had multiple people entering this information. It was never written
the same way.
[1:21] That was just one example of how messy cataloguing can be. It was
also one of the things I worked on as an intern. I called it data cleanup. I primarily
have a photography background before that. I realized I wanted to
work with pictures, without being a photographer. Which is why I went into
the graduate program I went into. What’s funny is, now with my current job, I
work in the communications and marketing department, which is the Central
Communications Office for Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as
Georgia Tech for short.
[1:54] I do play part of a backup photographer, from time to time, when our staff
photographer is unavailable. But most of the time I do manage the digital photography
Henrik: [2:05] Why does a research university use Digital Asset Management?
Jennifer: [2:08] Why doesn’t every university need it, actually? Everybody
needs a Digital Asset Management of some sorts and should already have some
type of DAM or storage and retrieval method in place. Regardless of what type
of content you’re cataloguing and storing. In our case, I work in the Central
Communications Office of a large university. What I work with is the marketing
photography database, and it is an online system. It’s password protected for
all of our users, and our users are people on campus. They’re the people who
work in other departments and academic units because everyone needs to have
some type of marketing photography. [2:53] They use the photographs on their
websites. They use them in brochures and posters. They all try to promote their
areas or promote the university in some way or another. Our photography collection
really does have a wide range of audiences. They can be the students,
faculty, staff, media from off campus or perspective students, faculty, staff, and
of course alumni and donors.
[3:20] We have everything in our DAM from recruiting photography. For instance,
they could be students walking around on campus or participating in
activities on campus. Or they could be in classrooms, in research labs. We also
have annual events, special events, and also donor events catalogued in our
database. But not so much sports photography, and I won’t get into that now.
Jennifer: [3:46] It’s mainly because we have so many departments and units on
campus that many of them have their own photo archives. They hire their own
freelancers to take care of the photography needs, and it’s really quite like a
small city on our campus because it’s so large. So they really should have all
their own photographers because it’s not possible for our one staff photographer
to cover every single thing for every single department on our campus.
[4:16] About our current Digital Asset Management tool, it has been a wonderful
and effective system for our campus users. It’s been in place since the fall of
2009, and before that we did have another DAM tool, which I’ll talk about later.
But our current one is great. It’s quick. You can browse using a category tree.
You can use advanced word searches.
[4:41] This is far from [laughs] what it was like before, so I guess you have to
experience the bad to really appreciate the good. So it is a huge improvement
from our previous system. Our previous system was in place when I began here
in 2006, and on my first day I was told by IT that there would be no more upgrades
to that Digital Asset Management system.
[5:06] I panicked a little because I had heard about database migrations before.
When I was in grad school, I had heard professors talk about it and other
people in the field when we had guest speakers. They all did a lot of eye rolling
and, “Oh, yes. Database [laughs] migrations.” Even one internship, I was working
at a museum. I worked in the photographer services area of that museum. I
was in the database a lot. But actually, they had two databases. Why? Because
they were migrating from one system to another and it was taking longer
than they expected. They were still working from two systems. I had to learn
both systems.
[5:47] That’s when I learned, “Gosh, why isn’t this a simple process?” [laughs]
I also heard from one of my professors, when he spoke to us about database
migration, he said, “I hope you will never have to experience this, but considering
how young you all are, you’re going to have to experience this at some point
in your careers.” And he was absolutely right. When I first started here, I began
doing the research on different Digital Asset Management systems.
Jennifer: [6:12] I was benchmarking with other universities. When I called other
universities, I spoke to what I thought were my counterparts at other universities.
I heard, again, that migrations are far from easy. I spoke to one campus
who had migrated from scratch. They were working from discs and hard drives.
They moved everything from their hard drives onto the new system. He said,
“No, we started from scratch and it was not easy.” Because I thought that
it might be.
[6:42] Then I spoke to another university who said they had migrated from an
older system to a newer one. They said, “No. It was not easy.” So I knew that
no matter what, I would be up for a challenging and rewarding experience. And
it has been very rewarding. Because I also saw this as an opportunity to make
some better changes to our system and the way that things had been catalogued
before. Because I noticed, in our older system, we had a lot of problems.
[7:10] The same problems that I mentioned earlier, with the provenance being
listed out many different names. On our campus, as I’m sure on a lot of university
campuses, there are many departments and academic units that all have
acronyms. What I like to do is list out the full name of that department or the
event. We have events in buildings that also have acronyms or nicknames. So
that’s like three things right there.
Jennifer: [7:37] I can list out the full name for that building or event or department.
Then the acronym, then the nickname, if I know it. I can add those in the
tags, so that when people search for any of those things, those pictures will
come up. With our older system, I would type in, “The school of XYZ.” That
would be an acronym. I would see a few pictures there. Then I would type out
the full name of that particular school or program.
[8:05] Sometimes I would see the same pictures and sometimes I wouldn’t. So
this database migration was a good time to develop some kind of consistency.
Those small changes really do matter. One way I fixed this was by converting
some text fields to drop down menus. In our old system, we had just open box
text where you could just type in the information. That’s effective for descriptions,
but for things like copyright information or photographer’s name or so on,
something like that, that’s going to be just about the same every time, it works
best with a drop down menu.
[8:42] That way, there’s no mistake. You have the same thing every time. And
now our collection is growing almost daily. The important thing is the changes
that I made… I asked myself, “How do I maintain the constancy?” I got this great
new system to start with and that was one of the changes I’d made, with the
drop down menus and the event names. We have certain events on campus that
take place every single year, the same events.
Jennifer: [9:09] One of them, of course, would be commencement, and then
homecoming. So I go into the system every time, before I catalog these pictures
and I look and see, “How did I write that out last year? What tags and keywords
did I use to identify those pictures last time and the year before that?” I try to
stay consistent with keeping the same information or similar information for
these same annual events that take place.
[9:36] Because it wasn’t like that before. [laughs] I would search for something
like homecoming and I would see pictures from 2003 in one category and then
homecoming the following year. 2004 would be in a different category. And
written a little bit differently. Then keywords were in one set of photos that
weren’t in the other. And so on. That’s just one example. I do try hard to maintain
consistency. You would think it would be easy with just one person doing
the data entry, which would be me.
[10:06] But it’s really not that easy. I realized how quick it is to forget things
like that. That’s why I double check and recheck my work before I put it in
the database.
[10:17] We recently began integrating videos into our collection, before it was
just photography. We’ve just put a videos in, we’re experimenting with it. Our
database is fancy enough that we can play videos in it, store them in there,
download them from there.
[10:34] We only have a small sprinkling of videos in there, so things that I’m
asking myself now are “How should these videos described in catalogs, should
be done the same way as the photography?” It all comes down to the end
users, how will the end users want to search for these videos?
Jennifer: [10:55] Should I make a category tree that has categories for B roll
footage or final edited pieces? Should I have the category tree mimic the photography
category tree? We have ours listed out by things like events, the different
schools on campus, student life, and studying. That kind of thing.
[11:18] These are all questions I’m asking myself now because I know that this
video collection will continue to grow just like the photography collection.
[11:26] I’m also familiar with how difficult it can be to turn around and do something
different like “Oh, we’ve already cataloged about 1,000 videos, let’s turn
around and change the way this is being done.”
[11:37] That’s not an easy thing to do and no one wants to do that, so it is a really
a good idea to have a good plan in place before you begin, you can get all of
those questions out of the way early on. It’s even more difficult sometimes to
convince people you work with that it’s not a quick fix.
[11:58] Getting a new fancy database is not a magical like a feature that’s going
to make all of your problems disappear. You do have to look at these things,
and ask yourself these questions, and have a good plan in place before you just
start dumping photography and video in.
Henrik: [12:14] Jennifer, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals
and people aspiring to be DAM professionals?
Jennifer: [12:19] Well the best advice I can give is be organized, consistent, and
the most important one, be patient. That patience can apply to a lot of things. It
can mean being patient with yourself, the people, your users who are using your
system. One thing I learned is that I initially never made it very clear how easy
it would be for our users to actually use our database. [12:51] And so when our
new system launched, we created some training videos that we posted online
because the system was so different, it had a different interface and it was a lot
fancier than what we had in place before.
[13:08] We had instructional videos, showing people how they can go into the
categories, do an advanced word search, create a saved set of photos or cart
so they can come back to it later, how to search by dates, or sort their search
results, which we certainly didn’t have in our previous database, which is an
excellent feature.
[13:32] Since it’s mostly photography in our system, it’s great to be able to sort
by creation date. The creation date is the date that the camera documents the
moment the shutter snapped.
[13:44] Since everything is digital now, when you have an order by creation date,
you’re looking at the most current down to the oldest and people want the
most current when they’re in PR.
Henrik: [13:53] Well thanks, Jennifer.
Jennifer: [13:55] Well, thank you for interviewing me.
Henrik de Gyor: [13:57] No problem. For more on this and other Digital Asset
Management topics, log onto Another DAM Podcast
is available on Audioboom, iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. If you have any
comments or questions, feel free to email me at
Thanks again.

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Need Digital Asset Management advice and assistance?

Another DAM Consultancy can help. Schedule a call today