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Digital Brand Compliance: A New Responsibility of Content Marketing

Is every company now a media company?

Though the answer has yet to be written definitively, I know how most content marketers would respond.

Every successful company’s marketing strategy includes a functioning media management operation.

Put simply, today, you may not be a media company, but you definitely are starting to operate like one.

Even just a few decades ago, organizing and scaling digital content management was thought to be a challenge only for traditional media companies because they had that much content.

Take the case of CNN. In 1980, the upstart cable network introduced a disruptive idea – global news 24 hours a day. In the mid-1990s, the company became one of the first broadcasting media companies to strategically invest in a new thing called “digital asset management.” Its Archive Project aimed to digitally manage 200,000 hours of archival material gathered and plan for more than 40,000 hours of new footage arriving each year.

The business mandate was simple. As Gordon Castle, then CNN’s senior vice president of technology, put it:

We have to shift to a digital system where content will be accessible to all our broadcast and interactive services. This is a paradigm change that will affect broadcasting everywhere.

It most certainly did.

Think about this. In the 1990s, CNN was attempting to create a system for 40,000 hours of new footage each year. By 2022, the company says it maintains 264 million hours of video consumed each year. That’s an increase of 6,600 times.

And in 2022, it’s no longer CNN and other media companies that have recognized the need to wrangle, manage, and maintain a tsunami of digital marketing media assets. Product and service businesses all have the same challenge.

Brands now need a better way to wrangle, manage, and maintain a tsunami of digital marketing media assets, says @Robert Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Digital content management challenges for businesses

Over the last few years, the rapidly evolving set of digital content management responsibilities in business began to fall into the laps of marketing practitioners. Among the challenges you face:

  • Diverse digital content formats, including images, audio, video, and even interactive applications, provide complex and dynamic media experiences for audiences. Those digital media assets must be managed in a more rapid and integrated manner.
  • Reuse and repurposing of others’ content in your business must comply with complex usage rights, copyright regulations, and licensing agreements.
  • As more brands act like media companies, monitoring the quality of digital content assets on third-party channels has become critical. These assessments range from ensuring an image or video contains the appropriate colors in an image or video to complying with usage requirements and paying royalties based on consumption quantity.

Together, these challenges have given rise to an emerging market need for content operations management – the real-time capability to manage brand compliance across digital assets on multiple channels.

At CMI, I call it digital brand compliance. This emerging market uniquely combines three existing challenges:

  1. Changing nature of digital asset management (DAM)
  2. Evolved, next generation of digital asset rights management (DRM)
  3. Emerging space of monitoring brand’s content quality management (CQM)

Let’s look at each of these.

1. Digital asset management allows for dynamic engagement

In the earliest days of digital asset management, a system of record acted as a single source of truth. It stored what was OK to use and archived content for historical posterity. The CNN archive project is a perfect example of this.

These DAMs then were coupled with other systems of records, such as product information management (PIM). A PIM system records more technical product content, such as merchandise SKUs, labeling information, ingredients, and other basic product information.

The overriding goal of this dual system was to ensure the consistent availability of usable assets in a library used by managers when they need the content assets.

However, over the last few years, both DAM and PIM systems have evolved from simple archive repositories to web content management systems – systems of engagement. Now they directly serve live content to audiences.

Digital asset management systems have evolved from archive repositories to serving live #content to audiences, says @Robert Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Both DAM and PIM systems require a core integration not just to manage the content but to present the content legally and in compliance and make it accessible to both internal teams and public audiences. This responsibility made the access rules to content more complex and gave rise to more dynamic and cloud-based digital rights management solutions.

2. Digital rights management eases complex compliance (somewhat)

As the digital world emerged in the early 2000s, the term “digital rights management” meant protecting and securing digital content from media companies to ensure it couldn’t be copied, distributed, or accessed unauthorizedly.

However, as brands began to act more like media producers, the next generation of digital rights management arose. For marketing and advertising teams, rights management has become a complex strategy and process to ensure all the digital assets they create comply with usage rights, copyright regulations, and licensing agreements.

Just as DAM systems have needed to serve live content to audiences, DRM solutions have become more sophisticated and dynamic. Teams must manage usage rights, licensing agreements, regional availability, and other compliance standards in real-time.

Finally, as brands integrated easy access, availability, and display to digital assets along with structured rights management, a third element has entered the ecosystem. They now need to manage an expanded definition of digital assets against new brand compliance rules.

3. Automated content quality management

Most brands now employ content marketing as part of their marketing strategy and use numerous digital channels to interact with their customers. To meet the overwhelming demand for content, as CMI’s research has shown, the number of people responsible for creating brand content – internal teams, executives, agencies, freelancers, engaged influencers, and even customers – has increased exponentially.

As a result, managing content quality has become more complex. New solutions have emerged to help monitor and manage digital content, both before it is published and after it has reached its display destination for various audiences. These content quality management (CQM) solutions are still relatively niche, and most existing solutions monitor only essential digital asset quality and conformance to existing internal repositories of assets.

However, a rapidly growing segment of the CQM market is evolving to monitor rich media assets (i.e., video, audio, applications) against more sophisticated content-usage standards, such as resolution, aspect ratio, colors in images or video and usage violations, expirations, and royalties or other payment measurements.

Digital brand compliance – a new market

As these three content management practices evolve, they intersect to form a new solution category – digital brand compliance. It merges these modern technology systems to help content practitioners make sense of today’s challenges.

The digital brand compliance market combines digital asset management, digital rights systems, and content quality management systems, says @Robert Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Digital brand compliance is a necessary new market for several reasons:

  • Digital asset management systems have become more real-time systems of engagement.
  • Digital rights systems have become more complex and part of an active brand management strategy.
  • Content quality management systems have grown in complexity and popularity for myriad content marketing programs and extend to rich media monitoring across diverse third-party platforms.

To help you better understand the emergence of digital brand compliance, we did a deep dive into how these functions are coming together. CMI’s Market Guide: The Rise of Digital Brand Compliance, sponsored by FADEL, details the new but rapidly growing segment of managing and monitoring the compliance aspects of a media management strategy. You will find:

  • More detailed overview of DAM, CRM, and CQM segments
  • Exploration of why digital brand compliance is critical to business today
  • Market definition of digital brand compliance
  • Forecasted market growth of digital brand compliance solutions
  • Predicted future trends of digital brand compliance as a holistic solution

Digital brand compliance is poised for tremendous growth in the next five years. Every company may not be a media company yet, but you almost certainly are adopting your operations to ensure your strategic media speaks just the way you want it to speak.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute