In today’s world of creating large amounts of digital assets, one of the biggest producers is consumer packaged goods or CPG. This sector is responsible for creating many different variations and types of digital products for a single product. If you stop to think about that for a minute, a single product can require digital content that will be used not only on the packaging, but also in videos, commercials, recipes, testimonials, 360 view of your product content, and a variety of marketing materials including shopper marketing, coupons, and so on. Digital Blindness To add complexity to the situation, those products have related content and data, including packaging artwork, possible historical connections, related compliance or legal documentation and labels, and ingredients or nutritional information. For any consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, that is a lot of information and digital content to keep track of so the wrong information or content isn’t accidentally used. Along the vein of miss or improper use you also have to worry about copyright infringement, celebrity endorsements, co-branding, usage rights being limited by models, location, intellectual property, etc. If your head isn’t spinning, you must have just skipped the first few paragraphs. While we aren’t trying to present a doom or gloom attitude, we want to be real with the ever-present challenges and complexities in the packaged consumer goods industry. When a company can’t easily find and see all the necessary digital content tied to a specific product they are experiencing what we call ‘Digital Blindness’. This blindness causes all sorts of problems and typically comes with financial implications. Creative and marketing teams that are unaware of where to find existing content or the existence of content, then those teams spend money by wasting time trying to find the content, repurchasing content, reproducing content, or worse yet, using the wrong content – which could have legal and additional financial repercussions. These digital asset management (DAM) problems can only be solved with a strong digital asset management system connected to a consumer packaged goods software (PGM) and a product information management system (PIM). Depending on the packaged goods, it may also be necessary to include a digital rights management system (DRM) in the mix to provide the necessary legal protection for your digital content. As we will discuss further, you will begin to see how the use of these systems is critical for any CPG company to have a true 360-degree view of their product content. This full view will allow you to connect and see all the information and content that can be tied to just one product. Internal vs External Consumers As we begin to walk through the solution to help consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have a full product view it is important to remember the different consumers of the content and data. The different consumers are going to be interested in different things. And, different consumers should only have access to specific content and information. Otherwise, the wrong content in the wrong hands can be disastrous for a company. Remember that consumers of content fall into two primary groups, internal and external. Your internal consumers are those that work for your company and can include teams such as marketing, creative, legal, engineering, manufacturing, senior management, and so on. Your external consumers can include marketing and creative agencies you employ to meet your workload, outside creative contractors such as photographers, videographers, designers, etc. Additionally, you can have external legal agencies, associations, political leaders, and of course, the news and media outlets. A lot of consumer packaged goods companies end up selling their products internationally and even globally. When that happens you employ and interact with internal and external consumers that have different needs and requirements. As a result, your organization will be engaging with hundreds if not thousands of consumers. The Solution So the burning question in your mind right now is, what is the solution to view and manage all the digital content created for each of our products? Well, the keyword for your solution is “integration”. Despite what any, one particular vendor will try to sell you on, there is no one single platform or system that exists as your silver bullet. You will have to integrate a few systems together. Now, with that said, there are some platforms that are more robust than others. As a result, those options will require less custom integration work. The key here though is making sure you start at the right place. This is going to sound a little biased, but it’s not. Since we are talking about providing a 360-degree of your product’s content, you need to start with managing the digital content. That is done with your digital asset management system, aka the DAM. DAM First Because your creative and marketing teams can’t really stop creating content for your products, starting with your digital asset management system is a critical first step. When done right, your teams will begin to experience the benefits immediately, and your organization will be on the road to getting your return on investment. When setting up your digital asset management (DAM) in a consumer packaged goods (CPG) environment there are a few considerations that need to be planned for as early on as possible since a successful setup will include integrations with other systems. Determine How Your Consumers Search One of the most important configurations of your DAM is setting up the searchable metadata and faceted searching in a way that is logical for your consumers. Don’t know what metadata is useful to them? The simplest thing to do is to ask. Or, you may need to sit with a few people from the different user groups to see how they go looking for assets. And remember, you need to consider your internal and external groups and the sub-groups within each of them. There will more than likely be some cross-over in the metadata that your consumers will use to search. Since your digital asset management system (DAM) will contain digital content of products, some of the useful metadata your users will want to use for search may very well originate in another system, such as the Product Information Management system (PIM). So, instead of making your librarians re-enter the same information that already exists in your PIM, plan early on for your metadata schema and faceted searching to utilize PIM data. When setting up the integration it is important to establish which system will be the source of truth for which data and content. It is a best practice to have one system be the source of truth and the other system provide a view-only experience of that information. You don’t want users making updates to data that originated in the source of truth system to get updated on the receiving end. You will quickly have bad data and cause problems. For example, A DAM user will most likely need to tag or associate the product number with the different digital assets as part of the ingest process for new content. So, the product number will need to be editable by those with ingest/upload capabilities. But, once those assets have been ingested and tagged with the part number, then product-specific data that is maintained in your PIM can begin to sync over to the DAM. That could be things such as sizes, volume, dimensions, available colors, related products, etc. Since the PIM is the best source of truth for this information, users inside the DAM could be allowed to search and filter by these data values, but they would never be allowed to edit them from within the DAM. Even if the data is incorrect. In the event, they identify errors in the PIM data they would need to go through the proper channels to have a product information management (PIM) administrator make the correction. And this system is equally true for PIM users viewing content or information that originates from the DAM. This would most commonly be product images that are sent from the DAM into the PIM to aid PIM users in properly aligning PIM data with the correct physical product. When a PIM user runs a search in their system it is very helpful to have a visual reference for the product. But, in the event they don’t think that the linked image is accurate, the PIM user should not be able to correct the issue. They would need to follow a similar process mentioned earlier about communicating the error to a DAM administrator. Determine What Content Your Consumers and Integrated Systems Should See One of the other important things to plan for is what content will be seen and accessible by different consumers and systems. Again, don’t forget to take into consideration internal and external consumers. This part can get a little more complex given the fact that you may have to limit content visibility and access based on regions, countries, languages, regulations, status, etc. You then have considerations for content that you may not want specific external consumers to access. For example, you will only want news outlets to only access very specific content. For an external partner such as a photographer, you may want them to be able to upload for you, but not be able to see much if anything that already exists in the DAM. Now, when it comes to your integration with other systems, we go back to our example about sharing content with your product information management dam. It could be a very real scenario where one part number could have hundreds or maybe even thousands of digital assets. You don’t want all of those to be sent over to the PIM. You only need a limited and specific set of assets sent over. With that being said you may need to come up with some custom metadata value that when an asset is tagged with that value, will a copy of that asset be sent over to the PIM. Part of determining who can see what will also need to manage based on your company’s usage rights of specific assets. When you hire a photographer to capture your product photos, do you own outright the usage of those product images? You may instinctively think yes, but are you positive? Some companies work with products that have a short shelf life and so as a way to save photography budget will negotiate limited usage of those asset management images. In contrast, some companies will only do product shoots that include full buyout. Either way, you should have a system to check and validate for consumers that they have proper usage rights for the content. Also, keep in mind that unless negotiated specifically, usage rights do not always translate into global usage or in specific mediums or platforms. The same thing goes when using celebrity endorsements. Just because your company paid for the photoshoot, you do not have unlimited usage rights of all the images captured during the photo shoot. Some celebrities are very strict in the product endorsements that they can have very restive scenarios of where, when, and how those product endorsement images can be used. A little note about digital rights management. A lot of DAM solutions will promote they come with DRM capabilities. For some platforms that may be true, while for others it’s a gross overstatement of what their platform can actually do. It’s important to understand how digital rights management fits into your organization and workflows to determine if the built-in capabilities are sufficient. For CPG companies, most out-of-the-box DRM features are not sufficient enough and you will best be served to employ a separate, specialized system that can then be integrated with your DAM. Determine How You Will Archive Old or Expired Products When companies are planning and setting up their systems they focus so much on the data and content for current and upcoming products. However, they don’t always consider what will happen to that data and content for products that are no longer in production. It is important to establish strong, archival best practices and include them as part of your system setup process. Sometimes you will have a product that will continue to be in production until this planet no longer exists. But, that doesn’t mean you will want to use the exact same photos that entire time. You will have new product photos created, sometimes often because something has changed or an attribute needs to be highlighted in order to encourage customers to buy. So then, what happens to the now outdated photos and other content? You simply won’t delete them. That is historical blasphemy. Rather than deleting no longer relevant content, you will want to archive them. There are ways to even automate the process by leveraging metadata. To do this, depending on the platform you may need to create some custom metadata that can be used to send notifications to key people and change permissions on the assets. The Complete View of Your Product Content and Data With these key integrations, you and your teams will now have a more holistic view of the content and data tied to each of your products. Not only do your teams have a complete view across different platforms, but you also have a view of content in the different stages of the digital asset’s lifecycle. Yes, setting up all these integrations is a lot of work and requires a comprehensive view, and that is where we come in and help teams. When you work with us we will use our guided approach through our proven methodology to help you centralize and organize your digital content. Our years of experience with the Integration of product data into the DAM will simplify content association to products and enrich assets with up-to-date product data for quick discovery. If you need some additional information on this topic of integrating systems or other related topics feel free to check out these other articles – When you and your team are ready to experience the benefits and ROI that come from a system that provides a 360-degree view of your digital content then contact us at cyangate.com. We would love to hear about your current pain points and answer any questions you may have about selecting the proper DAM and implementing a new Digital Asset Management system.