At the recent SPICYtalks 2019 in Berlin, one of the speakers was Theresa Regli. She is a specialist in DAM (Digital Asset Management) Systems. In this interview, she speaks with editor Morten B. Reitoft about IP rights, what size companies should look into DAM’s, and many more very exciting topics.

Dig in, Enjoy, and remember to share.

I’m really a consultant and a strategist in the world of digital asset management. I focus on helping companies organize their pictures, and their video, and their audio in smart ways. I’ve been doing that specifically for about the last 15 years, but I’ve been working in IT since 1994 when I started coding websites, so it’s been a long journey of digital awareness over the last 25 years.

I’m involved a lot, lately more than ever, in how to manage licensing agreements, contracts, rights around digital assets. Actually, the act of looking at a contract and figuring out how to turn that into data is really complicated today. Of course the more media oriented the company is usually the more complex the contract, so there’s a lot of that going on right now. A lot of that is not digital at all yet. It’s still in paper contracts, so that’s a struggle.

I was talking about the next phase of marketing technology and we’re at a point where so many companies have invested so much money in a lot of marketing technologies, but we are not necessarily using them in smart and connected ways. So MarTech 2.0 Is about doing things more intelligently, personalizing better, localizing better, and building a smarter presentation layer. Of course CHILI publish is one way to do that. I was also trying to make the point that there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that has to happen like data alignment and like governance to really do this well. We can’t just buy tools and expect it to work. We have to do the real busy work behind the scenes for success. That was really the two main points of the presentation.

I do see digital asset management systems in most large corporations today. Most of the projects that I’ve been involved with the last two years has been about the second DAM, or the renewal project, or let’s look at where we are and how we can improve. It’s very rarely a new DAM. It depends on the industry vertical. CPGs, retailers, advertising agencies, they’ve all been in the DAM world for quite a long time. Whereas I’m now starting to get more calls from, say, healthcare companies in America, or pharmaceutical companies, or banks that are all sort of bridging into this new world of you don’t really necessarily think of them as doing first line marketing necessarily, but now they realize, “Wow, even though I’m a healthcare company, I have to market.” You know, “Even though I’m a part of a pharmaceutical company, I might have a doctor representing what I produce. I still have to market directly.” They’re starting to invest a lot more in DAM. So I have some, some new projects recently that are companies that are huge, multibillion dollar companies that are now investing in DAM. I do see it spreading out now to sort of second wave of industry verticals.

But still larger companies, right?

larger companies. I would say though, I should say my sweet spot and my soft spot is also, I work with a lot of museums and cultural heritage institutions and they’re investing a lot in DAM now as well, because everything that they do, they want to make a digital record of it. Whether it’s that object in the museum or whether it’s an exhibition where they’re having children in to educate them about something, they want to film that. They want to promote it. They want to get more people in. They have to do more of that first line digital marketing on social media, whatever it is. There’s also an awareness now even in a small cultural heritage institution that they might need a DAM.

The cultural institutions often have very strict regulations on how they can share and what they can use based on the artists who created that work of art. That all has to become data in the DAM, otherwise people sort of go in, and they find something, and they get all enthusiastic and then they realize, “Oh, can I use this?” Then there has to be this whole email exchange or discussion if that data’s not there. That’s a big focus of what I’m dealing with now is what should the rights management model be in the DAM system? Is it just an expiry date or is it more complex than that? Then who’s going to maintain that data? Who’s going to take those contracts, and turn them into data, and interpret them? That that’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work.

Well, there’s different levels of rights management. I actually have a slide that speaks to this whole thing. I have five levels of rights management. The simplest thing of course is none, but the sort of most basic level of rights management within a DAM system would usually just be an expiry date and maybe three or four data points about how it can be used, like only digital or only in North America. It’s usually channel geography, expiry date, and maybe one or two other fields that that would dictate that. That’s really the most basic.

But as you get more advanced, and this is what DAM systems can’t do and you might need a third party tool to do is things like, we want this to trigger a renewal. If this is going to expire, we want this to trigger a renewal to the legal team to contact whoever owns the rights to see if we can renew it.

So like actions built into it?

Actions, business rules. We need to pay somebody every time we use it, so we need a record of when someone uses it so that we can pay the royalty to this particular celebrity or talent who’s in the asset. That’s what DAM systems don’t do and where rights management systems begin.

I don’t think that DAM systems will be the intelligent layer that’s just my my gut feeling. Also I’m, I’m saying my gut feeling, but it’s also I know about the product roadmaps of these organizations and they’re not engineering their products to be the intelligent presentation layer or to do data checks against regulatory systems. It’s just not what they’re engineering them to do. They’re really about being the repository for the assets and doing whatever the functional transformation, transcode, resize, all of the creative or visual aspects of what needs to happen to an image. But they’re not making the smart decisions on how to target this image to this person, in this geography, at this time, and make sure that we have the rights to do it. The DAM isn’t doing that.

It’s a little bit wild west and it’s an integration challenge. It’s not solved by one tool, whether it’s the DAM, or CHILI publish, or whatever. It’s strategy that has to do with integration and connectivity and just going back to my point earlier about data alignment and understanding what’s the combination of tools that’s going to do that for us, because it’s not one tool.