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Why Marketers Are Struggling with Asset Management

*This article was written for ANA Forward and originally published on the ANA website.

The days of one or two great ads playing to the masses on a single channel are over. Today, many ads go to a dizzying array of screens and devices. It’s no wonder that marketing teams and their field and agency partners are struggling to keep track with simple spreadsheets. Wrangling brand stories and keeping track of who has permission to touch them, prepare them, tag them, and, ultimately, play them according to strict guidelines covering talent and rights terms is a high-stakes game that calls for a sophisticated, intuitive, and collaborative solution.

It would seem, then, that one of the traditional digital asset management (DAM) solutions would solve the problem handily. In fact, quite literally, current DAM solutions don’t go the distance for the marketing team.

DAM systems, while playing important roles across a company, aren’t connected upstream to the creative agencies or the post-production houses, or midstream to all the teams and field partners that need permissions to access approved ad creative. And DAM platforms aren’t connected downstream directly into the broadcast infrastructure or IP-based delivery paths for connected TV, over-the-top TV, online video, or video on demand.

DAM systems do not fully serve the marketing team because they do not include the very specialized workflows for talent- and rights-management, secure TV and video ad asset sharing, linear and advanced TV delivery, video serving, or ad asset archiving.

Using old, brute-force ways to meet new demands has reached a breaking point. DAM systems simply weren’t built for brand TV and video campaign asset workflow. Because marketers and their agency partners rely on very specific workflow technology outside of DAM systems, they have two (or more) “sources of asset truth,” which serves no one well.

Expanding the Notion of Asset Management
One-to-many doesn’t mean what it used to anymore. In today’s complex media world, “one-to-many” refers instead to one set of creative assets going to an increasing number of destinations to drive business results.

As marketers build their unique tech stacks, it will serve everyone well to ensure that all brand advertising asset-related workflows for the modern media landscape are integrated together.

For some, a single solution is what’s needed. For others, simply ensuring that the asset management platforms are seamlessly connected is the best way forward. Whichever route a marketer takes to tackle the demands of today and tomorrow, the industry must make it easier for the creative assets to flow at the speed of media and remain in compliance wherever they play. To validate the asset management challenge, Extreme Reach (ER) examined more than 1,000 AdBridge accounts to demonstrate the exponentially increasing complexity of managing a brand’s portfolio of assets deployed across linear and nonlinear channels.

It Takes an Increasingly Larger Village
Over the past 12 months the average size of a marketer’s partner portfolio has grown.

Data reported on a year ago showed there were 35 permissioned users of the average brand’s ad asset portal. Today, according to ER internal data, that user base has expanded by 20 percent to 42. For very large multibrand accounts, the user base has risen by 6.5 percent, from 153 permissioned users to 163 across creative agencies, post-production teams, media and traffic teams, and internal brand marketers.

What’s more, the total number of TV and video ad assets uploaded annually by the average marketer has ballooned by 35 percent over the past five years, underscoring the new storytelling demands of a multichannel world.


The Number of Asset Uploads In 2019 Has Increased vs. the Number Uploaded in 2015

source: 2019 Extreme Reach internal research

The kinds of assets requiring management have expanded as well, from eight broad types in 2015 to 11 in 2019. The standard asset types remain, including TV ads, Nielsen watermark data, radio ads, traffic instructions, documents, and image files. In line with the changing complexion of brand storytelling and the need to maximize the use of highly produced ads and ad elements, the data indicate the rapidly escalating emergence of brand asset upload types are falling into the buckets of web-specific ads, long-form video, and video footage (B-roll).

Mapping the Messages to the Media
Before the internet, creative rotation instructions were fairly straight forward and generally applied to the entire TV buy (i.e., run 30-second spots for 75 percent of the campaign and 15-second spots for the remaining 25 percent). Today, it’s a much more complex exercise that balances which story will resonate the most for each type of exposure with the need to also maximize the returned value of each produced asset.

In looking at the use of creative assets across linear TV and digital video destinations over the past five years in the industry, some interesting patterns emerge. Data from ER’s AdBridge platform reveal a trend toward digital-specific ad creative and the use of more linear TV assets across at least some of the digital video plan. Whichever mix is right for an individual brand, the case for centralized management of all these assets and increased control of where they play is clear.


The Way In Which Brands Use Assets for TV and Digital Consumption Is Maturing

source: 2019 Extreme Reach internal research

In fact, as content streaming matures, brands are developing increasingly sophisticated campaigns to match. On average this year, brands are running five different pieces of creative across their digital video campaigns — and that number of unique creative pieces is skyrocketing in some categories, especially direct-to-consumer, where the average number of unique creative assets is 27.

Overall, brands are distributing their assets to more local TV stations (often tagged with local customization) and IP-based destinations (i.e., advanced TV, video on demand, demand-side platforms, video publishers) than in the past. In the last five years, however, those two areas have seen vastly disproportionate levels of growth: Where local TV has seen a 30 percent rise in asset delivery, IP-based destinations have gone up 609 percent.

That explosion in the deployment of brand ads across digital platforms represents a very real challenge for marketers in the area of talent and rights compliance — a discipline that involves navigating increasing complexities and intricacies in the pursuit of precise compliance.

Talent and Rights Compliance Precision Is Paramount
The average brand spends about 16 percent of its significant talent and rights budget on session fees (i.e., payments to union actors, performers for the shoot itself), 52 percent on residuals (i.e., the use of those ads across different destinations and periods of time), and roughly 32 percent on A-list actors and music, ER internal research found.


The Percent of Total Union-Use Expenses Going to Internet, New Media, and Social Media Residuals Is on the Rise

source: 2019 Extreme Reach internal research

When taking a closer look into residuals, it’s not surprising to see brands running more creative outside of traditional linear TV, and therefore allocating more and more talent and rights budgets to these newer use cases.

Building Beyond the DAM for Better Flow
As brands produce stories in myriad shapes and sizes to adapt to the increasingly complex media landscape, marketers will not have all their needs met by traditional asset management systems. Never fear. The solution to that problem is twofold: First, marketers should scope out the requirements with an expanded definition of “asset management” that connects the core of DAM needs with the very specialized workflows for TV and video ad creative, complete with talent and rights compliance guardrails. Second, marketers should charge their asset management partners with solving for the new, expanded needs of brands and all their partners operating across a multichannel landscape.

Marketers can have one source of truth, either by selecting one single asset platform or requiring that their traditional DAM software seamlessly connect with the platform that all teams use to prepare and deploy TV and video ad creative across screens.

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