Blog | March 16, 2016

How to Measure DAM ROI

by Mike Waite in Digital Asset Management

As marketing organizations become more technologically driven, digital asset management (DAM) systems are evolving into an essential part of the technical infrastructure. To create impactful brand interactions across a highly fragmented media landscape, marketers must rely on an extended network of collaborators and technology platforms. DAMs are not just the central repository for all the visual assets, but increasingly they interconnect the people and processes.

Calculating the complete value of a digital management system – and the financial return it provides – is complicated, however. Use cases and sources of value vary from one company to the next. And some of the financial benefits are subjective and tough to calculate.

With that in mind, the financial case for DAMs is well established. Most companies believe a DAM delivers value in three main areas:

Save money. One of the most easily quantified sources of value is cost savings. A DAM makes everyone involved in marketing operations more efficient by making marketing assets easier to find, manage and distribute. Teams spend less time looking for things and re-creating the things they can’t find.

Strengthen brand equity. DAM simply makes brands better: it increases the quality of creative work, makes it easier to find the right visual asset to create impactful brand experiences and lets marketers scale their activities so partners, subsidiaries, franchisees and others deliver communication that reinforces brand strategy.

Reduce legal exposure. DAM acts as a gatekeeper to support effective rights management. By making use restrictions clear, organizations cut the risk that marketing assets will be used in appropriately. Handling rules can restrict use and even take assets offline when licenses expire.

Calculate cost savings.

For most companies, implementing a DAM system is a financial no-brainer. A positive net return is usually possible in the first year based on cost savings alone. Brand equity and legal risk can be figured in, but are trickier to calculate – especially in the short term. Many companies choose to justify the investment based on cost savings and see a stronger brand and reduced legal exposure as upside.

The following framework will help you figure out how much money a digital asset management system is likely to save you. This model is based on objective figures that you ought to be able to look up and calculate or accurately estimate. You can also adjust your assumptions to come up with more conservative or aggressive scenarios.

Determine loaded hourly rates for everyone who interacts with assets. 

The first step is to consider everyone who will interact with your DAM – executives, marketers, creatives and other business users. A loaded hourly rate is how much you’re spending on an employee in total, including benefits, capital expenses, training and other costs. If you’re short on time, you can simply double the baseline hourly rate for a close estimate of the loaded hourly rate.
For a thorough calculation, here are the steps:

  1. Determine a worker’s hourly wage and the number of hours per year they work.
  2. Calculate additional annual costs like benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, training and other overhead.
  3. Multiply the initial hourly wage by the number of hours they work to calculate annual payroll cost. Add this number to the additional annual costs.
  4. Divide this by the number of actual work hours per year to calculate the fully loaded hourly rate.


Consider how much your digital assets are worth. 

Although every company is different, you very likely have a lot invested in visual assets like photography and digital design. Here are some things you can consider to estimate their value and a projectable cost per asset.

  • Identify how much you’ve paid for your assets, whether it’s license fees, the cost of photo shoots or commissioned art, contracted designs, etc.
  • Some companies find it easier to simply multiply their art, design and photography budgets by the number of years they have been collecting assets.
  • Quantify or estimate the number of assets in your collection.
  • Divide the value of your assets by the number of assets in your collection for an average value of each asset.


How much time your team spends working with digital assets. 

Think about each user and measure how much time they spend finding and sharing visual asset files each week. Be sure to consider the entire lifecycle, from production through edit cycles, publishing, distributing and reusing these files. We’ve seen some teams literally grab a stopwatch to time their colleagues and apply the results to their whole team. Other teams have used surveys to ask colleagues how long tasks take.

Calculate the ROI of DAM

Once you know how much you’re spending total per employee and you’ve determined the average cost per asset you can calculate the financial benefits of investing in a digital asset management solution. Imagine what your marketing team could do if they had a solution that allowed them to be 5% or 10% more productive. Marketing activity would increase and translate directly into sales and bottom-line benefits.

Download our guide How to Measure DAM ROI to better understand what a DAM could do for your business and measure the financial benefits.

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