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Don’t Believe the Hype: It’s Good to Have Options


Choices are generally a good thing. Window or aisle, coffee or tea, cash or credit. Whether it serves a necessity or just a mood, having options is important.

That’s why it’s surprising that many DAM vendors are taking an important choice away – removing classic folder structure, forcing everyone to use keyword search for all kinds of activities and calling it “modern.”

Nested folders alone are not always the best way to find things. But a hierarchical structure using folders serves a number of important purposes besides search. For example:

• It simplifies the migration of assets from other systems and sources.

• It makes it easier to manage regional restrictions or regulations.

• It can streamline search.

Let’s get into some specific use cases:

Folder structures make it much easier to migrate creative assets from one system to another. Before most companies have a DAM, they have a media library. That library most likely consists of a folder tree. When you import that library into a DAM that supports a folder hierarchy, the folder structure imports with it. Easy.  Migrating from a hierarchical structure to a flat structure? Not easy.

Folders are also really important for industries with regional regulatory requirements, or even  regional businesses. Let’s take the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies are heavily regulated – not just the drugs they produce, but also how they market and conduct business. Those regulations vary by region and drug.

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Folders in DAM make it easy to apply metadata and permissions to complete groups of assets. That means pharmaceutical companies can, for instance, restrict access to a group of assets before a marketing launch. If those assets are all in the same folder, they can apply restricted access to the entire folder with a few clicks.

If the assets aren’t in a folder … well, the pharmaceutical company has to track them all down first, then apply the restrictions. That’s going to take a lot of time and introduces much more opportunity for human error – for which the penalties can be very expensive.

One more use case: collaboration with agencies. The functionality is much like applying permission and restrictions in the previous example, but in this case you can set up collaborative folders and allow agency users to contribute and manage the content they are working on for the company – without handing them the keys to your entire kingdom of assets.

Three more reasons why folders are a valuable benefit in DAM:

  • People have been using folder trees for a long, long time. For some, it’s just part of their organizational DNA. There’s no reason to force them to use another method.
  • Folders and search make a great team. When you search your entire library, you’re more likely to get a high number of results. When you search a specific folder, the results narrow, and you’re more likely to find the specific asset you’re looking for.  (For example: A global shoe retailer has 10 million total assets in its DAM, 2 million of which are in an EMEA folder. By starting the search in the EMEA folder, it cuts 8 million irrelevant assets before the search even begins.)
  • As helpful as metadata is, no one can force you to implement it. So if you have a huge library of assets lacking metadata, folder trees sure beat a massive, unorganized pool of mixed assets.

To sum it all up: Search is great. Folders are great. Forcing you to only use one or the other in your DAM is bad. To learn more about how WebDAM makes asset organization, permissions and distribution simple, contact us for a demo.

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