What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?
Digital Asset Management (DAM) typically refers to the management of general collections of digital assets. General collections tend to contain a wide array of file formats and types that can encompass a large dataset of content and assets. These are typically files useful in the day-to-day operation of a business. Documents, images, audio files, and videos are all common to DAMs.
DAM solutions organize digital content like:
- Brand assets
- Project files
- Image assets
- Licensed media
These are typically files that are useful in the day-to-day operation of a business or organization.
Now, if you are a content creator, or a team working with video and multimedia assets which require more storage and bandwidth, you may refer to your system as a MAM — or Media Asset Management.
What is Media Asset Management (MAM)?
A MAM (Media Asset Management) system is a type of DAM — specifically, optimized for video and multimedia production.
Video production files can be large and can require more infrastructure like cpu power, storage, networking, and automations to support production workflows. A MAM is designed and optimized for these larger files and workflows.
A MAM integrates with creative tools — helping with organization, automations, and streamlining the creative process overall.
MAM solutions organize digital content like:
- Brand assets
- Project files
- Licensed media
- Production files
- B-roll footage
- File versions and derivatives
Aren’t DAM and MAM essentially the same thing?
Simply put: yes. The technologies have evolved to the point that distinctions are virtually non-existent. Media creation, particularly video, continues to rise and has become a successful medium for traditional marketing and advertising but has now moved as the standard format used for social media and the web as well. This means more video assets—and more video assets mean larger files with more servers and internal resources to manage those assets. DAM systems had to become more agile and catch up to meet the demands of their users.
Why do I need a DAM?
DAM platforms allow you to:
- Make assets more discoverable and accessible
- Allow reuse of assets for efficiency and cost savings
- Preserve historical assets
- Streamline your content production workflow
DAM and MAM platforms can vastly improve your workflows, efficiencies, and ability to collaborate across departments.
With a DAM, you can organize all your assets from your entire department, or even the whole organization to become more discoverable and accessible. This discoverability and improved accessibility can help your team reuse assets and take advantage of existing content, thereby limiting the need to produce new content, and gaining a larger return on investment from your existing assets. This can also help your organization weather unexpected disruptions. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our clients reported being able to continue on with work with minimal interruption, despite shutdowns and restrictions on in-person work and creation of new assets, since their robust DAM and MAM systems allowed them to easily find content that they could repurpose for new projects.
Using a DAM or MAM platform also allows for preservation of legacy assets that might not be getting regular use, but are important to the historical and cultural story of your organization. The relevance of your past media can only be leveraged if it is maintained, preserved, and made retrievable in an organized system like a MAM.
DAM and MAM systems can also streamline your content production workflow, because they can be integrated with your daily processes, utilizing the work your teams are already doing to efficiently upload assets and capture metadata. Once in the DAM other team members can access and use (or reuse) the assets to move projects forward step-by-step—no more need to pass files around, email-by-email clogging inboxes, or shipping multiple drives through couriers or FedEx, and losing track of progress.
DAM systems exist to help companies maximize their investment in media and content creation.
Do I need a DAM or a MAM?
DAM tends to be used as the broader and standard term, but often, if your needs align more with a MAM, everything here still applies. Identifying the best solution for your organization can be an involved process. You will want to start by evaluating your current assets, and the direction your organization or company is moving towards. You can’t futureproof every situation, but understanding your needs will help you ask the right questions and properly direct the conversation.
The difference between DAM and MAM often pivots on two pieces: are you tracking only media production or projects in a more holistic sense. DAMs are often better equipped to handle a wider array of formats and integrate with more project management software. On the other hand, MAM products are often solely focused on the production of audio/visual assets, and the pre- and post-production processes that go into the creation of a finalized asset. However, these two terms are often used interchangeably and there is no real difference between the two.
At the end of the day, it is up to the system to meet your needs. You do not want to compromise your requirements to fit into a system that only meets some of your needs. You know that you need digital asset management, so now it’s about taking the next step. Evaluate, ask questions, and push for the direction that best serves your organization.