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Digital asset management vs. Media asset management

The proliferation of digital assets has meant companies need a single source of truth to keep everything organized. Which solution is right for you?


The same, but different

Think of the digital asset management (DAM) system and media asset management (MAM) system as identical twins.

Whereas identical twins can look and sound alike, one twin might want to be an accountant while the other focuses on being a film editor.

A DAM manages assets and tracks workflows. MAM manages assets through every stage of the media lifecycle, from ingestion and production to post-production and distribution, focusing on the production of audio and video assets. Selecting the system that best fits depends on your organization’s needs for asset management. The systems are related but have distinct concepts that deal with the organization, storage, and retrieval of digital assets.

DAM solutions serve as a single source of truth, and apply to a wide range of industries and sectors where rich media assets play a significant role. This includes marketing, advertising, e-commerce, design, publishing, and other sectors where efficient management, repurposing, and distribution of digital assets are crucial for business operations and brand consistency.

MAM systems are comparable to Document Management Systems (DMS) in that they are optimized more specifically for requirements and workflows associated with large media libraries, which include various file types like video files, audio files, images, animations, and other multimedia elements. . Digital asset management platforms can manage millions of files with sizes in multiple terabytes, a crucial ability when managing libraries of rich media and enabling on-premises or cloud-based file workflows.

In basic terms, DAM and MAM store brand assets and make it easier for creative teams, marketing teams, and other team members to find those assets and use them.

Chapter 2

What are the benefits of DAM?

A well-designed and maintained DAM system can be a marketer’s dream. Marketing content lives in one central location, where it can be easily viewed, shared, and integrated with other systems. Here are some of a DAM system's advantages:

  • Ease of distribution: The system can share and distribute found content to others internally, externally, or to social networks. A digital asset management solution facilitates controlled access and distribution of assets to internal teams, external stakeholders, or various platforms. We all know the frustrations of sharing large media files, which can cause slow website loading and sharing issues in email. DAM solutions provide features for sharing assets securely, creating download links, embedding media, or integrating with content management systems, social media, and more.
  • Searchability: DAM's structured metadata features allow users to search for content, view files, and download assets for their own use quickly and easily. DAM solutions also offer specialized searches through keywords, the addition of categories and subcategories, file collections, native filters, artificial image recognition, and auto-tagging.
  • Diverse tools: DAM systems include features such as metadata management, version control, access control, rights management, workflow automation, and integration with other tools. Metadata management also supports rights management, including permissions, usage rights, licensing, and copyright information.
  • Ensuring brand integrity: Centralized DAM solutions will ensure uniformity in brand and messaging. DAM systems can manage millions of different types of assets for different types of users across your organization, ensuring universal access to the same branded and pre-approved visual and textual elements.
  • Metrics: Some DAM systems provide analytics and reporting features that offer insights into asset usage, performance, and engagement for data-driven decisions by organizations.
  • Reduced costs: DAM systems add value to marketing operations by ensuring consistency and avoiding duplicated efforts. Digital asset management software also can help organizations avoid recreating content that has been lost or misplaced. DAM system solutions ensure speedy recovery by automatically saving files along with version histories.

Chapter 3

What are the benefits of MAM?

As mentioned above, a media asset management system is ideal for large files, like video and audio. Here’s a breakdown of the most common benefits:

  • Storage: MAM systems offer secure storage and archiving capabilities for large multimedia files. MAM systems also often include optimized storage solutions that can handle high-resolution audio and video content and other media formats.
  • Workflows: MAM solutions go beyond DAM's functionalities and feature additional capabilities tailored to media workflows. These capabilities can include video transcoding, editing, subtitling, captioning, collaboration tools, media tracking, distribution to multiple platforms, metadata enrichment specifically for media files, and integration with editing software.
  • Searchability: Metadata enrichment includes adding information such as cast and crew details, shooting locations, keywords, captions, subtitles, and other relevant information that enhances the searchability and discoverability of media assets.
  • Integration: MAM systems integrate with video editing software and provide collaboration features tailored to media production workflows. They allow multiple users to collaborate on editing projects, review and approve media assets, and track changes made to the files. The system can handle versioning requirements and update content as edits are made.
  • Asset tracking: MAM systems help manage rights and permissions associated with media assets. This allows users to track usage rights, copyright information, and licensing agreements, and enforce restrictions on the distribution and usage of marketing materials.
  • Reduced costs: MAM systems can lower storage costs by centralizing that function.

Chapter 4

How does a DAM or MAM store data?

Each system employs various methods for storing and managing data, specifically tailored to handle media assets.

  • Cloud storage: Both systems can leverage cloud storage services provided by third-party vendors, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google Cloud, or other similar platforms. For example, Sitecore Content Hub DAM is a SaaS-powered solution where assets are stored in the cloud.
  • Local storage: Both systems can store data on local servers or storage devices within the organization such as dedicated digital file servers, Network Attached Storage (NAS), or storage area networks (SAN). Local storage provides direct control over data and offers access to the organization's network.
  • Object storage: Both systems often utilize object storage architectures such as Amazon S3 or OpenStack Swift, which provide scalability, data integrity, and built-in redundancy.
  • Hybrid storage: A few DAM systems use a combination of local and cloud storage, creating a hybrid storage architecture. Hybrid storage can allow organizations to balance performance, cost, and data accessibility.
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): These are used by MAM systems to store and distribute media assets. CDNs have a global server network that caches media files closer to end users. The networks are particularly useful when distributing media assets to geographically dispersed audiences or for streaming media content.
  • Tape libraries and archival systems: MAM systems can employ tape libraries or archival systems for long-term archival and preservation of media assets. These systems offer high-capacity, cost-effective storage solutions for media files that are not frequently accessed but need to be retained.

Chapter 5

Sitecore’s Content Hub DAM

Sitecore provides a DAM platform for a centralization strategy. Sitecore Content Hub™ will let users collaborate and produce content in one centralized place from beginning to end.

Content Hub includes complex metadata, built-in digital rights management, robust security, and global asset distribution. AI and machine learning tag images and videos automatically.

Deploying an all-encompassing Content Hub that integrates a DAM system streamlines the process of content creation and distribution, which can be siloed and inefficient. Users will no longer be slowed by version controls or unnecessary exchanges between systems. Also, important collaborative conversations aren't lost in an inbox.

Chapter 6

Pick the best asset manager for your needs

It's important to know your organization's objective. A recent survey indicated that 97% of companies have moved at least part of their digital marketing in-house, mainly because media production has become more accessible.

This means new content is filling the digital archives of organizations from every sector, prompting the deployment of new media management technology to ensure business continuity.

Yes, DAM and MAM sound the same and have overlapping features. But their key differences are in the specific assets they manage, the industry focus, and the specialized functionalities they offer.

Organizations should choose the system appropriate to their specific needs, whether they deal with a wide range of digital content or primarily focus on media-intensive workflows.

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