In today’s content-centric world, many organizations are practically drowning in digital media assets. From video files, graphical elements, and other bits of rich multimedia content, the sheer volume of media being generated by enterprises large and small can feel overwhelming. Far too often, the search for the perfect asset through this sea of content can become a drain on time, productivity, and a team’s ability to hit deadlines.
That’s where a media asset management (MAM) software solution can come into play – and often, be a lifesaver. But what exactly is media asset management? The term is often used interchangeably with digital asset management (DAM), but while the terms sound nearly identical, there are some important differences between these two concepts.
What is media asset management?
Media asset management (MAM) is the process and software used to manage high-volume video and multimedia files. It originated within the film and broadcast industry to accommodate the need to manage large rich media files. As a result, MAM became an essential part of the video production process as it allows you to store and manage your rich media library from a centralized, reliable source.
In short, a MAM system helps teams store, organize, and access media assets, making life easier throughout the content production process. Deployed and utilized properly, such a system can help teams achieve a few important goals:
- Media asset management software can help foster better collaboration across teams.
- MAM software unifies and centralizes access to important files.
- By simplifying asset retrieval, a MAM solution can save time, money, and deadlines.
For many organizations, such a system can become a critical part of day-to-day business. But as vital as it can be, MAM is in no way the only means to the ends listed above.
How is media asset management different from DAM?
Media asset management (MAM) sounds a lot like digital asset management (DAM), right? Well, you’re correct.
As DAM has grown over the years to be able to better support rich media files, the gap between MAM and DAM has narrowed. Originally, DAM functioned as a photo, graphics, and file library, before it evolved to support rich media assets and the video production process.
Today, MAM and DAM are often confused as they're both solutions used to store, manage, and access digital assets. They both streamline the content creation and distribution processes and make it easy to use assets and track that usage with analytics. MAM and DAM both also ensure safe, long-term storage of large files. The distinction lies in the two systems’ intended use.
Media asset management
Since MAM was created to support the video production process, its functionality tends to best serve industries working primarily within rich media content management workflows. For production teams in the film and TV industries, for example, MAM software is used to store, manage, and work with large quantities of massive video files and other rich media assets used in the video production workflow. But as today’s video production process often involves more than just video and audio files, media teams are increasingly opting for evolved DAM systems over more specialized MAM tools.
Digital asset management
By contrast, DAM originated as a more general purpose system for managing a range of digital assets, such as photos, logos, audio clips, PDFs, videos, and other digital content. So while video and rich media are part of the mix when it comes to what DAM systems can handle, their scope is much broader than MAM. Traditionally, DAM has been used by brand creative teams, marketers, and other functions to administer, organize, and distribute media files. Since DAM technology got its start in the 1990s, these systems have gotten better at handling large video assets, narrowing the gap between DAM and MAM.
Which is right for you: DAM or media asset management?
So which one does your organization need? It depends on your specific workflow needs, but generally speaking MAM systems are best suited for post-production environments, while DAM is ideal for brand management needs that span functions like marketing and sales.
A few common features of DAM systems include:
- Media content publishing and delivery
- Cross-team collaboration
- File format conversions on the fly
- Workflow automation
And some common features of MAM systems include:
- Transcoding of rich media for editing and delivery
- Cloud editing of proxy files
- Automatic logging of media files
There is much more to consider while finding the best DAM or MAM system, but those are some common wish list items supported by each one.
Let’s break it down a little further to see what MAM or DAM can do for you.
Upholding brand integrity
Your brand is your identity. You need to protect it, share it, and manage it. While a MAM system can help you manage your rich media files, a DAM system keeps your whole brand in check. Its security features, distribution capabilities, and permissioning structure are designed to provide easy, reliable access to the content that powers your brand.
Integrations with rich media production tools
Rich media production relies on great editing tools. And moving between these tools and your asset management system can add time to your day that you can’t spare. Thus, integrations with your editing tools are pivotal to keeping your workflows running smoothly.
MAM and most DAM software are able to integrate with your creative tools, so make sure to keep a list of your most-used software handy when shopping for a MAM or DAM system. Also, note that integrations might function differently between vendors or there could be options for a custom-built connector via an API. Seeing a demo of the integration prior to selection will help you make the right decision.
Project management and cross-team collaboration
Teams today span the globe, or at the very least, the department floor. So cross-functional communication is critical. Integrations with other marketing technology (martech) can enhance collaboration and tracking to help your teams stay connected. Integrations with these tools are standard for most DAM systems, while they might not be for MAM tools. Understanding the possibilities when you’re coming up with your list of must-haves will help you narrow down your search.
Serving the full content lifecycle
While MAM focuses primarily on managing assets, most DAM systems also support the entire content lifecycle from project requests to asset archival. This is commonly achieved via apps within a single platform combined with integration options that allow companies to customize the process based on their own workflow. Making DAM the foundation of your martech stack to support your content lifecycle aligns your teams and provides consistency in your process.
Deciding on the right asset management solution
As you can see, the lines between MAM and DAM are a little blurred. A MAM system could be the right choice for you and your company if your main goal is managing rich media files. But now that DAM systems support rich media assets and more, organizations are relying on DAM to provide a solid, scalable foundation for their brand.
When it comes to managing your assets, we strongly encourage you to do so with a solution that best fits the needs of your company. Determining the current and future asset needs of your organization will help you figure out if MAM or DAM best solves your rich media woes. Then, it’s a matter of choosing the right platform and partner for you.
Learn more about digital asset management and how Widen can support your rich media content needs.
Note: This article was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated to remain current.