The world of Digital Asset Management (DAM) is full of jargon and acronyms; it’s easy to find yourself overrun with the terminology, particularly if you’re implementing a DAM system for the first time.


Access Control

Refers to permissions that control the visibility, usage, and modification of assets (corresponding to activity descriptions like view, download, and edit).


An admin (or administrator) is often the gatekeeper of your digital asset management tool. They’ll have full control of the system. They can set permissions, toggle all settings and add new users. If you’re currently researching DAM providers, chances are you’ll be an admin once you sign up.


This is the file extension for Adobe Illustrator, the vector graphics and artwork application.

AI Tagging/Auto Tags

AI tagging typically involves the use of Artificial Intelligence and image recognition technology to identify objects and other properties such as colours or text within images. These are then associated with corresponding keywords. AI tagging is usually performed when initially uploading and ingesting assets.

While some experimental work has been carried out on video media, this technology is currently used mainly with static images such as photos. The majority of DAM vendors implement AI tagging using a third-party image recognition component rather than developing this facility themselves.

The accuracy and reliability of automated AI tagging can sometimes be unpredictable with obvious keywords often being missed, while other more obscure suggestions are proposed instead. Most AI tagging is restricted to generalized content descriptions and is usually inadequate for subject-specific keywords and other metadata.


API stands for “application programming interface” – which basically means that one system can talk to another. Relating to DAM – this means that creative assets stored in your DAM can be integrated into other systems – such as your content management system.

Adaptive Metadata

Adaptive metadata is a way to assign metadata automatically for certain files. For instance, when you upload an audio file, metadata would capture the length of the file, which would not be present when uploading an image.


An asset is any file type that is stored in your DAM. Some people refer to an asset as any file that has value due to it containing intellectual property. From office files to audio, videos, images, HTML, and other bespoke file types such as CAD, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and more.

Asset Management

The term 'Asset Management' when taken in isolation can be confused with Digital Asset Management. In general, it relates to the management of physical objects, locations, or items of value and can include:

  • Equities (stocks)
  • Fixed-income and debt (bonds)
  • Money market and cash equivalents
  • Real estate and tangible assets

Digital Asset Management and derivative terms like Brand Asset Management usually specifically relate to digital files which are usually (but not always) media related.

Asset Manipulation

Asset manipulation refers to the alteration or editing of an original file to create a new file. The new file may be stored within the DAM or can be downloaded immediately.

Audio Video Interleave (AVI)

Audio Video Interleave (AVI) is a popular multimedia format typically used for the delivery of video content. AVI was invented by Microsoft in the early nineties. Like QuickTime (a competing technology invented by Apple around the same time), AVI is known as a Container Format because it contains content that may be compressed using a variety of other codecs such as MPEG. Despite being technically inferior to a number of other formats, it has achieved a high level of market penetration and is widely supported by most video editing and playback software


Boolean Search

When you think of Boolean Search – think about how you can search on Google. Boolean Search enables you to identify a digital asset based on true or false queries. For example, you can search for all files with the keyword girl, but exclude the keyword family and add a date range.

Brand Asset Management (aka BAM)

Brand Asset Management systems is a DAM on steroids. In addition to storing digital assets, Brand Asset Management platforms help marketers not only explain their brand guidelines but also able to approve creative that is submitted, to verify it is on brand.

Brand identity

The visual version of your brand can include a logo, slogan, website, packaging, and other marketing materials.


A specific type of logo that uses a symbol instead of the company name, like the Nike Swoosh®


A browser is a software application that allows users to access and navigate the internet, displaying web pages, multimedia content, and enabling online interaction. Read more.



Cataloging is another word for ‘ingestion’ – or more simply said – the process by which when you upload a digital asset, metadata from the file is automatically extracted, and you can add additional keywords and other metadata so it’s easily found in the future by searching.

Cloud-Based DAM

A DAM system that is hosted and accessed through the cloud, offering benefits such as scalability, accessibility from anywhere, automatic backups, and reduced infrastructure costs. Cloud-based DAM solutions are increasingly popular due to their flexibility and convenience.


Also known as the “four-color process,” this abbreviation stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key, which refers to black. This is a color model that refers to the four inks used in some color printing. (See also “RGB.”)

Collections (aka Lightbox Collections)

Collections enable you to group files from different folders into a specific area that is viewable by you and with those you choose to share it with. For example, if you are putting together an annual report, using a Lightbox Collection lets you create a bespoke ‘category’ or project by pulling files from different folders into a new subject. Generally, Lightbox Collections can be shared internally and with external third parties to who you grant permission.


Comments enable your end-users to make comments and leave reviews against a file. Sometimes this is used for approvals, and other times there are questions about usage rights. It can also be used to instruct amendments, ask questions or offer feedback. Generally, email alerts are associated with comments, so when a comment is made, people who also have permission to access a file get notified.


Compression is used in many digital file formats to reduce the amount of storage capacity needed. This is done so files can be quickly uploaded and downloaded. Examples of compressed file formats include JPG, WEBP, MP4 etc

Container Format

Container format is usually applied to multimedia digital assets and means that the file type is not a compression technology (or codec) but is used to hold media that has been encoded by other technologies. Some popular container formats include AVI, DNG, and QuickTime.

Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Networks or CDNs are dedicated networks with high levels of capacity specifically designed for the distribution of bandwidth-heavy content. A CDN provides multiple geographically dispersed Points of Presence (PoPs) and replicates content across the network so downloading content is quick.

Content Management System (CMS)

A Content Management System enables users to update, store, create, and publish content to a website, intranet, or other online services. A CMS allows anyone with access to be able to post content to a site without the need for any coding knowledge. WordPress is a popular open-source CMS. There are dozens of CMS software options, many of which are also open source. These include Drupal, Joomla, and Umbraco, to name a few.

Controlled Vocabulary

A controlled vocabulary is a way of ensuring that anyone who is involved in uploading or tagging images uses consistent language and terminology to make it easy to find them later.


The legal area related to ownership of creative work and the rights to control its reproduction, performance, recording, broadcasting, translation and production.



The DAM industry loves acronyms. DAM stands for “Digital Asset Management” –software that enables you to put a process around managing your digital files and creative assets such as cataloging, searching, workflow approvals, and the ability to manage talent usage rights.

DAM System

The software platform or application used to store, organize, manage, and distribute digital assets within an organization.

Data Migration

When you are migrating from one content management system to another, this is referred to as data migration. This involves transferring digital assets (such as files and photos) from one system to another.


Think of a dashboard as a display screen that showcases all the information you need, just like the dashboard in a car. It lets you pull file data and workflow data into custom reports so that users can instantly see the data that matters to them. For example, a typical DAM Dashboard may include information such as Recently Uploaded Files, Files Waiting on my Approval, and Files Due to Expire This Month.

Data Storage

Digital Asset Management relies on digital storage facilities to hold assets. Usually, when purchasing a DAM, data storage will include the primary storage, as well as backup storage of the assets.

Database Server

A database is typically used in a DAM system to hold metadata about assets. The majority of modern databases are known as Relational Databases (the correct term is RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). In a relational database, tables of information are connected together by using identifiers (or indexes) to query them.


The process of identifying and removing duplicate copies of digital assets within a DAM system to improve storage efficiency and avoid confusion.

Derivative Files

Derivative files describe assets that are created from the original. In Digital Asset Management Systems, these can refer to previews that enable users to see what an asset looks like before they download it. They may include a variety of options such as thumbnail images, Flash Video, low resolution, or watermarked editions of images. As well as previews, derivative files sometimes refer to assets that will be used for production purposes but where some key aspect has been altered (e.g. the size, format, or color space). The term derivative files can almost be used interchangeably with surrogate files, although the former expression implies a wider range of uses.

Digital Asset

A digital asset is a digital file that has value to an organization or individual. These include photos, videos, podcasts, brand guidelines, and graphics. Some typical file formats include JPEGs, PNGs, AI, GIF, MP4 (and so on).

Digital Asset Management

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a collective term applied to the process of storing, cataloging, searching, and delivering computer files (or digital assets). These may take the form of video, audio, images, print marketing collateral, office documents, fonts, or 3D models. Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems centralize assets and establish a systematic approach to ingesting assets so they can be located more easily and used appropriately.

Digital asset manager

Digital asset managers are responsible for acquiring, cataloging, managing, and protecting an organization's digital assets. They often perform these tasks using a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system.

Digital Content Management

Digital Content Management (DCM) is synonymous with Digital Asset Management. Although technically it specifically relates to media content as opposed to general data assets, in practical terms there is no difference between the two descriptions. The phrase Digital Content Management is often used to avoid confusion with Asset Management, which has a variety of meanings across different industries.

Digital Negative (DNG)

DNG or Digital Negative files were invented by Adobe as a Container Format for holding RAW files along with other associated information such as metadata in XMP format. They can also be used to hold previews of images and a wide range of other data which need to be stored with an image rather than in Sidecar Files.

Digital Rights Management

This is metadata associated with a file, that tells the user who the author or owner of the file is, licensing arrangements, and permitted usage information.


This is basically when you convert a physical file – i.e. a printed photograph, into a digital file.


Short for ‘Dots Per Inch’ and ‘Pixels Per Inch’, DPI/PPI indicates image resolution. Although they technically have different meanings, in modern usage these terms are interchangeable. All bitmapped images are made up of ‘pixels’ (dots); the higher the DPI, the more pixels are contained within a one-inch span, the more detailed the image. However, a high DPI does not necessarily equal image quality; a photo taken on a phone camera will not produce images as good as those taken on a professional DSLR camera but might be a similar size and resolution.

Images used for web purposes do not need a high resolution, so should always have a low DPI, typically 72 or 96 DPI. Images for print purposes need to be higher resolution, so must be a minimum of 300 DPI for good quality printing.


DRM stands for ‘Digital Rights Management’. Through process and technology, DRM is a means of protecting the intellectual rights of digital content from use that would be in breach of copyright laws.


Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)

Encapsulated PostScript or EPS is a derivative of the PostScript standard and is a digital image format. EPS files are fully self-contained (or encapsulated) PostScript documents that come with an associated preview image so the user can view them. EPS files are more prevalent with specialist structured drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator but are still supported by most modern desktop applications.

Enterprise Content Management

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a wide-ranging term that is sometimes incorrectly used instead of Digital Asset Management (DAM). ECM systems tend to be large-scale repositories of many types of content held across the entirety of an organization. As well as digital media, nearly all material (including operational documents and files) may be included in the scope of an ECM implementation. The objective of providing ECM is usually to offer a single interface where employees can gain access to all of an organization's data. Although technically an ECM application can fulfill the same function as DAM, in practice most organizations and departments (especially those that have a lot of digital media like marketing communications) find they need a separate system as ECM tends to be too broad for anything but basic activities such as searching. Many DAM systems are being integrated with ECM as an alternative method that enables organizations to leverage the benefits of both.

Email Link

In the context of your DAM, it is the method of sharing single or multiple files to external recipients by sending via email a link to download those files.

Embed Media

Is the process of displaying media files, directly from a DAM by embedding a reference to a file stored in the DAM, on a third-party, public website. e.g. display an image tag that references the URL supplied by the DAM
Embedding media from a DAM can be thought of as the DAM acting as a CDN. Youtube™ embeds are a popular example of embedded media.

Embed Code

HTML code that allows digital assets, such as images or videos, to be displayed or played directly within websites or other online platforms.

Encoding (or embedding) Metadata

From your DAM – you are able to add and edit metadata, which then gets embedded into the file. For instance, if you have a file that’s named – “Happy Woman” – from your DAM you can change the title to “Happy Woman Smiling”, and add a description like “Image of a young, Asian woman, smiling at the beach” and metadata keywords such as – Young, woman, smiling, beach, Asian, Female, Lady. When you make these changes in your DAM – they are automatically embedded into your image.


Encryption encodes data into a form that makes it secure for communication and transfer across networks, preventing it from being easily read if intercepted.


Essences refer to raw audio or video streams used in media files. Essences will usually be encoded with a Codec such as MPEG or MP3.

EXIF – Exchangeable Image File Format

The simple way to think about EXIF is that its information from the camera as it relates to the digital image. EXIF data is embedded within the image file itself, usually jpeg or tiff, and is used by many camera manufacturers. Adobe created a better, more flexible metadata format for photography and image processing, called XMP (extensible metadata platform), but EXIF is still a very popular and supported metadata specification.

Expiration Date

A predetermined date or time after which a digital asset is no longer considered valid or available for use. Expiration dates can be set to enforce license restrictions, content usage agreements, or time-limited promotions.

Extracting Metadata

When you upload a file into your Digital Asset Management system, automatically, the metadata associated with the file is indexed into the DAM’s search engine. This is important, as it allows users to enter metadata in other software applications that can later be used in the DAM system to help users organize and finds assets more efficiently.


Faceted Search

Faceted search is a way of filtering down when you search. For example, if you search for assets containing the keyword “green field” – once you see your results, you can narrow your search to assets created on a certain date, or are of a specific file type.

Facial Recognition

More and more Digital Asset Management systems are offering facial recognition to automatically tag specified people in images and videos. It works by first uploading several images of a subject – i.e. 10 images of the CEO of a company, and tagging each of these images. Then using AI facial recognition, the DAM will automatically tag a photo or video with the person’s name when that person is featured. This makes finding specific people or talent easy.

File Conversion

The process of changing the file format of a digital asset to make it compatible with different software applications, devices, or platforms.

File Format

File format is a catch-all term to describe the type of each digital file. Examples of file formats include: .jpeg, .mov, .MP3, .docx, .ppt, .png, .tiff. .eps – etc – the list goes on.

File Size

The size, usually measured in bytes or kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB), of a digital asset file. File size affects storage requirements, download times, and bandwidth usage.

File Transfer

The process of moving digital assets from one location or system to another, often involving uploading or downloading files to or from a DAM system.

Folder Structure

The hierarchical organization of digital assets within a DAM system, typically represented by a tree-like structure of folders and subfolders for easier navigation and asset management.

Filter Search

Filter Search has a relationship with faceted search and controlled vocabularies. The interface presentation for filter searches is closer to a conventional application. Controls like drop-down menus, checkboxes, or radio buttons will be used to allow users to refine their search criteria. In some DAM systems, it may get referred to as 'Advanced Search' and may be utilized more by sophisticated users.


FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a codec (compressor-decompressor or coder-decoder) that allows digital audio to be losslessly compressed such that file size is reduced without any information being lost.


Flash was brought to prominence by Macromedia who acquired the original application in 1996. They subsequently merged with Adobe in 2005. Flash movies are generally highly compressed and designed for playback within websites and over the internet.

Flash Video (FLV)

Flash Video or FLV is a compressed video format developed specifically to allow video to be played back over the internet via the Flash player. FLV files tend to be considerably smaller than conventional video formats which makes them especially useful for previewing media prior to download in Video Digital Asset Management systems and websites that use video.


Frames Per Second or the number of frames displayed during a second of video footage, where higher FPS results in smoother motion perception. Different traditional broadcast frame rates can cause significant compatibility issues.



The process of adding geographical information, such as latitude and longitude coordinates, to a digital asset. Geotags enable the mapping and location-based searching of assets.


The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

Governance Model

A framework that defines the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes related to managing and maintaining a DAM system within an organization. It helps ensure accountability, consistency, and compliance.



H.264/MPEG-4 AVC is a video compression standard that was finalized in 2003. It is widely used in DAM systems to provide a high-quality preview of video files. H.264 supersedes H.263 which is the basis for FLV (Flash Video).


H.265 or HEVC (High Efficient Video Codec) is the successor to H.264 and was published as a standard in 2013. H.265 compresses video at considerably higher density than its predecessor - without loss of quality.


Hosting refers to whether your DAM is hosted on the cloud or on-premise. An on-premise solution will need to be hosted on your own servers, which comes with several limitations including a lack of scalability and storage, and high costs associated with supporting the application. A cloud-hosted DAM means your brand’s visual content is secure and online - the modern solution for most businesses.


Image Recognition

The use of AI and computer vision algorithms to automatically identify objects, faces, or specific attributes within images, allows advanced search and classification of visual assets.


Adobe InDesign was first released in 2002 and is a page layout and graphic design tool. InDesign is the main competitor to Quark Xpress and is aimed at the professional designer market. One of its key benefits is tight integration with the Acrobat PDF format, also, Adobe has a wider product base than Quark which enables a higher level of compatibility with other popular graphics applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator.


This is the native file format for InDesign, Adobe’s desktop publishing (DTP) software. InDesign is currently considered the industry standard for DTP, so marketing teams will likely encounter .indd files regularly. In most circumstances, InDesign files cannot be simply transferred from one device to another; due to the way that InDesign links to fonts and imagery, they must be ‘packaged’ before they can be transferred between users.


Ingesting means the same as cataloging – which is the process of adding or uploading assets to your digital asset management system, and adding, embedding, and extracting metadata to/from your digital assets.


The seamless connection between DAM systems and other software applications or platforms, such as content management systems (CMS), project management tools, creative software, or publishing platforms. Integration allows for streamlined workflows and improved collaboration.


IPTC stands for International Press Telecommunications Council and is a consortium of news agencies and suppliers to the press industry. In 1979, the IPTC developed a metadata standard that defines a common set of fields used to describe images such as caption, copyright owner, and keywords. Adobe developed a specification known as an "IPTC header" for embedding IPTC fields directly into image files. The benefit of this approach is that information about the asset is theoretically never lost and follows the image even if it is copied. In practice, the IPTC headers can be overwritten or replaced with extensions developed by other vendors that are incompatible with the original list. A new standard XMP or Extensible Metadata Platform has been developed jointly between Adobe and IPTC that uses XML and allows extensions to the fields instead. XMP is now becoming the predominant metadata standard for images.



JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, however, it more commonly refers to a compression standard that is used to reduce the disk space consumed by digital images. The compression method is referred to as 'lossy' because some of the original data from the image is lost as part of the process. JPEG images are very common in Digital Asset Management solutions because they are natively supported by nearly all web browsers and their size is considerably smaller than other uncompressed formats such as TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). JPEG files are usually recognizable by the extension .jpeg or .jpg.


Keywords (aka Tags)

Keywords are information that describes your digital assets, so they are easier to search for and find later. Keywords become part of your digital assets’ metadata.

Keyword Search (aka Tag Search)

Keyword search is how searches are conducted within a Digital Asset Management system. The user enters a term or phrase, metadata fields are checked for matches, and results are returned.


Keywording is a colloquial term applied to a specific asset cataloging activity where words, phrases, or terminology (or 'keywords') are attributed to assets as metadata. Keywording is particularly relevant for photographs and images as these types of assets lack any integral descriptive information to help users identify whether they are suitable for their needs.



Latency is the time interval between the call and response, or as the time delay between the cause and the effect of some change in the system being observed.


In the context of DAM systems, the term 'Lightbox' usually refers to an area where users can keep lists of assets they may wish to download or use later. Non-digital images such as transparencies are typically viewed on a real lightbox to illuminate the images so they can be seen properly. The metaphor has stuck even though it is not particularly relevant and is now used for all types of assets, not just images. The term is similar to 'Shopping Cart' which has been applied to many ordering-based websites or applications, note that most Digital Asset Management systems tend to include a shopping cart also to allow users to specify assets they would like to use for a project.

Linked and Related

Linked and Related files refer to the method of linking a file to a new folder (Linked) or linking a file to another file (related). The original file does not move, but rather, a digital relationship is formed. This is useful when managing talent usage rights in a DAM – for example, to link a talent release form to multiple files.


'Lossless' codecs allow the original data to be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data with no loss of information.


'Lossy' codecs are those that compress the source media by removing (or losing) some of the information to achieve the result, MPEG is an example of a lossy codec.


Machine Learning

An AI technique where computer algorithms learn patterns, recognize trends, and make predictions or decisions based on large datasets, often used in DAM systems for auto-tagging, image recognition, or content recommendations.


Media Asset Management (MAM) is generally considered as simply an alternative term for Digital Asset Management, although some would argue that a MAM system only supports video rather than any type of digital file. To a greater extent, the terms are interchangeable, the expression tends to be favored when discussing Digital Asset Management for video or broadcast media contexts. In some cases, this term can refer to editorial or metadata activities associated with assets and DAM systems, for example, cataloging, keywording, or transcription of video footage or audio clips.

Master Asset

The original or highest-quality version of a digital asset from which other versions, such as thumbnails, previews, or different file formats, can be derived.


Metadata is descriptive information about your files (data about your data). Digital Asset Management systems rely heavily on metadata, as it’s critical for searching, retrieving and managing your rich media assets.

Migration Plan

A detailed strategy and roadmap for transferring digital assets, metadata, and associated data from one DAM system to another, including considerations for data mapping, data validation, and testing.

Mobile Access

The ability to access and interact with digital assets using mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, through dedicated mobile applications or responsive web interfaces.


Marketing Operations Management (MOM) is the theory behind Marketing Resource Management (MRM) systems and is a method of applying classic Operations Management techniques to the marketing realm. MOM seeks to generate efficiencies and improved ROI across the whole range of marketing activities, including planning, forecasting, budgeting, and collateral management. This is achieved by implementing both electronic systems to give marketing managers dashboards that they can use to gain 'at a glance' view of current performance as well as a more process-oriented perspective on the functions performed by marketing departments.

MOV (QuickTime)

MOV is the file format extension for QuickTime movies.


MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group and is a working group that develops standards for encoding digital video and audio. In the case of most Digital Asset Management systems, MPEG refers to a type of video format. There are three common variations of MPEG (named MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4) along with MPEG-7 & MPEG-21. MPEG-1 was the first standard for encoding video. MPEG-2 enhanced the standard and improved support for digital storage on DVDs and other devices. MPEG-3 was discontinued. MPEG-4 increased the range of output devices to cover mobile and internet delivery.


Marketing Resource Management (MRM) is a systematic method of managing marketing resources such as digital assets, collateral, schedules, forecasts, and budgets. The concept applies operations management techniques used in production/manufacturing environments such as Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the marketing function. MRM systems are closely related to Digital Asset Management or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications and tend to concentrate on providing digital tools to help marketing departments produce or deliver marketing collateral (e.g. brochures, direct mail or e-mail). They are often used in combination with relationship marketing techniques, for example, to generate personalized sales collateral based on the profile of a prospect. MRM systems also use workflow tools to integrate the different elements of a solution and provide an approval/sign off mechanism for the resources that are created or represented.


Multi-instance DAM is similar in concept to multi-tenant DAM, but it provides each stakeholder with its own discrete instance of the DAM software. Contrast this to multi-tenant DAM in which virtual partitions of a single instance are assigned to each stakeholder. All instances are managed from a single overlying software interface and control console. This enables the DAM service provider to make global configuration changes and manage software updates for each instance from a single location.
Multi-instance DAM offers benefits not available to the stakeholders of a multi-tenant system, including having one database per stakeholder, which ensures absolute security; dedicating hardware resources, such as processing power or storage, which means that Stakeholder A can be paying for resources that Stakeholder B doesn't need (or want to pay for); better reliability assurances because the actions of Stakeholder A do not affect the actions of Stakeholder B (if one instance crashes or is misconfigured, it will not likely affect other instances.)
If a DAM supports both multi-tenancy and multi-instance deployment, it should be possible to cascade tenancies through a hierarchical combination of instances that each include tenancies.


Digital assets that combine multiple media types, such as images, audio, video, and interactive elements.


Multi-tenancy as it relates to Digital Asset Management refers to multiple stakeholders using a single DAM system. Unlike the separation of users via groups or roles, multi-tenancy affords each tenant (or stakeholder) its own virtual partition of a single instance of the DAM software.
A truly multi-tenant DAM will be able to provide virtual walls between each tenant that will ensure system resources developed by or intended for a specific tenant are not accessible to other tenants. Examples include digital assets, taxonomies, metadata schemas, processing or other configurations, and branding.
In addition, a multi-tenant DAM will be able to divide activity logs and other admin-level statistics between tenants. This ensures that users of one tenancy won't see the activities of another tenancy's users, and it enables system administrators to charge for DAM access based on each tenant's use of the system.



Network Attached Storage (NAS) Servers are dedicated to the storage of digital files. The purpose of having a computer whose sole purpose is file storage is to reduce the load on a web, application, or database server. Unlike an external hard disk, a NAS is usually an actual computer with an operating system installed on it. Because NAS servers are specialized towards just providing storage alone, extra capacity can usually be added to them easily. NAS are commonly used for Digital Asset Management projects to provide sufficient storage capacity for repositories of larger files such as video, print/artwork files or original high-resolution images. SANs (Storage Area Networks) are sometimes used as an alternative to a NAS, although this is less common with dedicated Digital Asset Management Software.


Most DAMs allow you to set up automated emails that tell you about new things in your system. This means, whenever someone uploads a new image or video, you’ll get a handy email notification.



Stands for “Optical Character Recognition” and essentially means if there is a scanned file with text, it can be picked up in a search engine. For example, if you scan a word document into a DAM, with OCR, the text of the file is searchable.

Offline Access

The ability to access and work with digital assets even when not connected to the internet, often achieved through offline synchronization or local caching mechanisms.

On-Premise vs Cloud

On-Premise based solution is the alternative to Cloud-based systems. If you host your DAM on-premise, your IT department will generally manage the software as well as the hardware.


Many DAM tools require a level of ‘onboarding’. This is what happens after you purchase, and helps you and your team get up to speed with your new software. This can include getting an overview of the system, deciding on folder structures, considering upload workflows, and setting up your brand’s theme. Depending on the tool you purchase (and the size of your team), the amount of time it takes to onboard can vary.


A measure of a color’s transparency. The higher the opacity, the less you can see what lies behind it. The less opacity, the more transparent the element is. A black circle, for example, has high opacity.

Open Source

Software that is freely available, allowing users to access, modify, and distribute it according to open source licenses. Open-source DAM solutions offer flexibility and customization options.



The Pantone Matching System is a standardized numerical classification of precise color identification for color printing, which makes it easier for designers to reference exact color shades.


PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDF files are created by Adobe Acrobat and are widely supported standards for distributing print-quality documents electronically. PDF was first created in 1993 and has gained in popularity because of the free distribution of the reader and Adobe's decision to make the format an open standard that vendors can write tools for without paying royalties. PDF is sometimes considered a successor to PostScript, although they do not technically fulfil the same role. Since the PDF reader operates on both Mac and PC, the format has achieved critical mass despite various attempts to compete with it such as Flash Paper (developed by Macromedia who Adobe later acquired). Adobe InDesign also has native support for PDF and most corporate desktop rollouts include a copy of the reader as standard.


Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was created as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most used lossless image compression format on the World Wide Web.


PIM stands for Product Information Management software which integrates product data sheets and related resources, to all artwork and creative related to the product. Most DAM systems can serve as a PIM for your business.


The smallest unit of a digital image or graphic that can be displayed and represented on a digital display device.


PostScript is a page description language that once achieved a high level of market penetration in the professional printing and graphic design market during the 1980s and 1990s. The language was developed in the 1970s and was the basis for the many high-end printing devices used for commercial printing work. The Encapsulated PostScript (EPS).


Refers to “pixels per inch” and measures the density of pixels used on electronic devices, like camera screens or monitors.


A visual representation or low-resolution version of a digital asset that provides a quick overview or reference for users without requiring the download or access to the full asset.


Proofing enables you to annotate a file, image, audio file or video and share comments with others. This generally is used when collaborating on files or seeking legal approval before a piece of creative is finalized.

Proxy Files

This term refers to any files that are created from the original for reference purposes. They are used to represent assets - in general as a low resolution, truncated, or otherwise constrained edition. The term is now the more popular way to describe non-original assets that have been rendered specifically for use in Digital Asset Management systems.


This is the file extension for Adobe Photoshop. This file format allows users to save images as editable Photoshop projects, retaining layers, masks, and other actions.

Public Access

The ability to make selected digital assets available to the public or external users for viewing or downloading, often used for marketing materials, press kits, or public archives.



QuarkXpress is a page layout and design application. It is commonly used by professional designers for a variety of print publishing activities (e.g. brochures, magazines, letterheads, leaflets, flyers, etc.) and provides a high level of typographical control over designs. Quark Xpress was first released in 1987.


A search request or set of parameters used to retrieve specific digital assets from a DAM system based on defined criteria, such as metadata values, keywords, or asset properties.


QuickTime is a widely adopted standard for the delivery of multimedia content and was developed by Apple in the early 1990s, originally for the Macintosh but Windows support was added in a later release. Although capable of dealing with other types of media such as audio, text and 3D panoramas (such as QuickTime VR), it is generally associated with a video. The QuickTime file format is known as a Container Format because it holds various types of media - rather than being a native codec in its own right. The QuickTime player required to view media has a high penetration on Macintosh computers because it ships with this operating system. On Windows, it is reasonably widely deployed, however, it must be separately installed and this makes it less suitable than Flash Video for pure web-based delivery using an online Video Digital Asset Management System.


QXD is the standard file format for Quark Xpress documents.



RAW is a file format usually used by professional photographers that contains ‘unprocessed’ metadata. These are usually very large files and this format is often referred to as a digital negative because photographers can then use software such as Photoshop to manipulate them before compressing into a JPEG, TIFF or PNG.

Raster image

A raster, or bitmap, image is a graphic that is composed of a grid of pixels, with each pixel having values for color, hue, saturation and transparency. Unlike vector images, these graphics do not scale well and will become pixelated as you “zoom in” or enlarge the graphic.


In the context of Digital Asset Management, rendition means different editions or versions of an original asset, for example, an alternative file format, color space, or resolution.

Reporting and Analytics

The capability to generate data-driven reports and analyze usage patterns, asset performance, user activity, and other metrics within a DAM system.


REST stands for “Representational State Transfer” and is a form of API that allows one to interface with other sites on the internet, run queries and return information, much like a search feature on a website. REST sits between your system and the system you would like to ‘talk’ to; your system asks for information through the API and the system you are searching for returns a result back through it.

You could think of REST as a sort of Messaging App for internet queries. The way in which REST works means that it is very useful for cloud-based applications.


A measure of image quality based on dots per inch for printed works and pixels per inch for digital work. The higher the resolution, the crisper the image will be.

Rights Clearance

The process of obtaining necessary permissions and licenses for using third-party content within digital assets, ensuring compliance with copyright and intellectual property laws.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

A security model that restricts system access and permissions based on predefined roles assigned to users. RBAC ensures that users can only perform actions relevant to their roles and responsibilities.


RSS stands for ‘Real Simple Syndication and is an XML-based Metadata standard that makes it easy to get feeds from one website to another.


RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and is the standard color model used for screen-based media.



SaaS stands for Software as a Service – and in the context of a DAM, enables you to manage your digital assets in the cloud, versus and on premise implementation. SaaS products are provided as web applications that users access via a browser. SaaS DAM is also interchangeable with Cloud DAM solutions.


The ability of a DAM system to handle increased workload, accommodate growing numbers of assets and users, and adapt to changing business requirements without performance degradation.


Search is the heart of Digital Asset Management software, as it enables users to find exactly the asset(s) they are looking for.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The practice of optimizing digital assets and metadata to improve their visibility and ranking in search engine results, increasing their discoverability.

Share and Embed

Your DAM software should not be an island. Instead, you can share and embed files into third-party websites and other media directly from your DAM.

Single Sign-On

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a technology that enables users to log in to their company’s DAM platform with their corporate or network ID. It alleviates the hassle of remembering a username and password and protects digital assets stored within the DAM from people who have left the company.

Social Media Integration

The ability to directly publish or share digital assets from a DAM system to social media platforms, as well as capture and manage user-generated content from social media.

Stock photo

Licensed images available for designers to use that negate the need for the designer to coordinate an entire photo shoot.


Digital Asset Management relies on digital storage facilities to hold assets. There are numerous different storage types and associated terminology used for them.


Streaming means the ability of media to be viewed at the same time as it is being downloaded. The key benefit of streamed assets is that the user does not need to wait until the entire file has been obtained before they can inspect it. There are two basic varieties of media streaming: live and archived. Live streaming involves capturing the output from a camera or other digital source and relaying it to users in real time as an event takes place. Archived streaming takes assets that have already been digitized. Streaming takes on particular significance when dealing with dynamic time-based media such as audio or video and is (to a greater extent) essential for a Video Digital Asset Management system. There are a variety of media streaming protocols in widespread use, including FLV (Flash Video), Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), and 3GP (for delivery to mobile devices).

Style guide

A set of design standards for a specific brand to ensure complete consistency in the style and formatting of design assets. This often includes guidelines for color schemes, typefaces and how logos are used and placed within an asset, among others.


Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a web-friendly vector file format. As opposed to pixel-based raster files like JPEGs, vector files store images via mathematical formulas based on points and lines on a grid.


ShockWave Flash or SWF is the type of file created by the Flash application. SWF movies are generally played back on the Flash player built into browsers, although the format can be used on mobile devices and is sometimes embedded into other programs also.



Tagging is the process of adding metadata to digital assets to categorize the content.


Taxonomy is traditionally a hierarchical structure used to classify and assign metadata to files, derived from folder hierarchies in computer operating systems.
Modern taxonomy is often flat (no tiered hierarchy) tag-based constructs.


A small, representative image or visual preview that provides a quick visual reference or overview of a digital asset within a DAM system.


This enables users of the DAM to switch the size, file type, cropping and compression of a digital asset. For example, you may have a PSD that is 4000×4000 pixels, using DAM transformations, you can easily turn that same image into a smaller file of 500×500 in a PNG format.


‘Tagged Image File Format’. A raster format that retains a high level of quality, even after compression. Due to its quality, TIFF is a file format often used in the print industry. It is not suitable for web use.


Transcoding is the process of converting one video or audio format into another. In general, it refers to the conversion of one codec to another (e.g. MPEG to FLV), although the description can also apply to conversions between container formats (e.g. QuickTime to AVI).


User Permissions

The specific access rights and privileges assigned to individual users or user groups within a DAM system, controlling their ability to view, edit, download, or delete assets.

User Roles

Predefined sets of permissions and responsibilities assigned to users based on their roles within an organization. Common roles may include administrators, contributors, reviewers, or external stakeholders.

Usage Analytics:

The collection and analysis of data related to the usage, performance, and interaction with digital assets within a DAM system, providing insights for optimizing asset management strategies.


User experience (UX) is generally understood to encompass the breadth of elements that collectively influence the experience a person has when navigating and interacting with the DAM. The user interface (UI) is the series of screens, pages, and visual elements — such as buttons and icons — that you use to interact with the DAM.


Uploading in digital asset management usually refers to the act of ingesting or cataloging assets into the DAM system. Most DAM systems allow you to upload a single file at a time, and to bulk upload files by dragging and dropping from your desktop.


Quite simply, a user is an individual who uses the DAM system. These aren’t necessarily admins, but team members who have their own logins with limited permissions.

Usage Approval (aka Asset Request)

Usage Approval is a type of Workflow in a digital asset management platform, that enables people to request approval before using a file. Usually, the requestor needs to specify how, when, and where a digital asset will be used.



VAM stands for Video Asset Management – which is similar to Media Asset Management – a platform that specializes in the management of video. These specialized systems typically are on-premise solutions and can handle large file sizes, so are often used by large broadcasters such as Television broadcasters.


Video Digital Asset Management or Video DAM is an attribute of Digital Asset Management systems that relates to the management of digital video assets. Video DAM systems are typically capable of more advanced operations on video, such as generating previews, live conversion of one format to another, streaming, video effects, and extracting frames.

Vector graphic

Vector graphics are shapes created using lines and curves. Unlike bitmap images, vectors do not contain pixels; they are mathematically calculated using geometric formulas and scalable to any size, no matter how small the original artwork is. Vectors are used to create graphics such as logos, icons, and polygon shapes.

Version Control

Version control is a very important feature of any DAM, and enables you to feature the latest version of an asset, while still being able to go back and see previous versions and version history (if enabled via permissions).


Welcome Page

Digital Asset Management Systems have custom welcome pages to help end-users navigate the platform easily.


Watermarking means adding a logo, or a user’s time and date stamp information on top of the file when displaying in the DAM to prohibit people from using either small images in the final creative and to prevent unauthorized usage of the file.


The capability to generate print-ready files directly from a DAM system, allowing users to customize and download assets for print production purposes.


The sequence of processes through which a digital asset passes from creation, production, and to distribution. The key to good workflow is understanding what are the issues involved in identifying, capturing, and ingesting assets within a DAM system and then making them accessible and available for retrieval. DAM may be understood as a workflow device to assist in the marketing operations critical to your organization’s needs. To determine how a DAM will accommodate your project, it is important to think about how and when data is created and modified in your projects, and then think about how this data moves through the projects.


WYSIWYG is an acronym for "what you see is what you get."



XML is an abbreviation of eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a standard for creating markup languages that describe the structure of data so that it can be exchanged between two different systems. It is heavily used in systems integration. Many Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems include features that allow metadata and assets to be supplied to third-party systems in XML format.


Adobe's metadata schema for writing and storing metadata and encoding it in the digital file for photography and image processing and is used throughout Adobe's Creative applications like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. Adobe’s XMP format is becoming the most commonly used standard for images for transferring metadata between software applications and DAMs.



ZIP is a popular file compression format used to reduce the storage space consumed by digital files. Read more.


Most design software lets you zoom in or out on an image to get a closer or farther-away look. Zooming in is especially useful when photo retouching or working on tiny details.

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