How Taxonomy is the Magic Behind DAM Success

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Monday, March 21, 2022

Getting the taxonomy of your digital asset management system right will make files searchable for the end user.

Article 4 Minutes
How Taxonomy is the Magic Behind DAM Success

The success or failure of your digital asset management (DAM) system lies in your taxonomy structure. The way that you organize and categorize data has a direct impact on its searchability and the end user being able to find the resource they’re looking for efficiently.

Without library taxonomy, your DAM efforts could lead to frustration, slow download speeds and assets seemingly disappearing into a black hole. Get it right and your asset bank will add value to your team and promote efficiency in creating campaigns.

Types of digital asset management taxonomies

The type of taxonomy you implement will depend on several factors, ranging from the different types of assets you’ll be storing through to the system your employees are currently used to. Therefore, it’s important to consider the options and select the right one, otherwise you could be building a taxonomy that isn’t fit for purpose.

So, what are the options?

1. Folder and categories structure

Taxonomies based on a folder structure seem intuitive, as most end users are familiar with them from the way their PCs, hard drives and Google Drive are set up. This organizational format works fine when combined with good categorization if you have a relatively small number of files, but for large asset banks, a more sophisticated system will be required.

2. Search and tagging structure

Relying on taxonomy metadata instead of folders allows files to be discoverable and understandable to computers as well as humans. Essentially, you add the folder name to the asset as a tag, instead of relying on a hierarchy. Establishing tagging conventions for your metadata is essential to ensure the success of this type of taxonomy.

3. Hybrid structure

Approaching your taxonomy with a combination of folders, categories and metadata tags can help avoid potential issues. It enables end users to access the asset bank in multiple ways and therefore find a process they feel comfortable with. You’ll also find you’re building a taxonomy for DAM implementation that won’t outgrow its usefulness as the business expands.

How to start implementing your DAM taxonomy

Once you’ve decided on the correct approach for your team, you’ll want to start building your taxonomy and reaping the benefits of DAM. With potentially a vast number of digital files requiring organization, the data migration process can feel daunting, but breaking it down into simple steps will help.

  1. Begin by setting out the high-level categories you’ll be using in your file naming conventions. These may include department, product, project, region, season or something similar that’s specific to the business.
  2. Utilize a spreadsheet or mapping tool to organize and keep track of these fields.
  3. Configure your DAM system and automate the tagging of your assets as they're imported into the software for consistency and efficiency.

Using taxonomy to search your asset library

When performing a basic search within your DAM asset library, the software will scan the metadata of each file and return all assets associated with your keywords. More complex searches are facilitated by using multiple attributes as part of your taxonomy to refine the results and discover the asset you’re looking for more quickly.

A balance must be struck between making it easy to use and straightforward to implement. Automating metadata tagging will mean multiple keywords can be added easily, but they must have the end user in mind. Without a focus on searching the asset bank, you could find your library taxonomy lacks the functionality it needs to make a positive impact on operations.

It’s not always the case that metadata needs to be created from scratch, as many files already contain them. Make sure this isn’t lost in the migration process and that it's standardized if you’re importing files from a number of different sources.

Updating your DAM taxonomy

While all efforts should be made to get metadata taxonomy right when implementing your DAM, there’s a good chance it’ll need updating in time. It should be tested periodically to ensure it’s still fit for purpose and categories should be revised in line with changes to the business. That way digital assets will remain discoverable and the system will support the speedy retrieval of files.

Maximizing the use of your asset library

Once the DAM has been implemented and any issues with taxonomy overcome, marketers will find there are a number of ways to use the system to its full potential. One such option is to integrate it into your content management system, allowing you to search and utilize digital assets seamlessly on a day-to-day basis.

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