DAM Vs MAM: The difference between Digital Asset Management and Media Asset Management

The difference between a DAM and a MAM: What Digital Asset Managers and other marketers need to know

If you ever thought about trying to understand the difference between Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Media Asset Management (MAM) then this post is for you. I will explain:

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What do DAMs and MAMs have in common?

DAMs and MAMs; before talking about what’s different, let’s discuss what they have in common. The goal of both systems is to control ownership of content (manage), make that content easy to find, share that same content with others and finally, track that usage.  Both platforms should allow control of both content and users to ensure that users only have access to the content they are entitled to and have the tools they need (entitlements) to work with that content.

OK, so what are the differences between and DAM and a MAM?

The distinction is certainly blurring. They have so much in common to begin with. It used to be said that a MAM is a video centric DAM, and a DAM does not handle audio/video well.
Let’s look at both DAM and MAM a bit deeper.

What is a DAM?

Traditionally, a DAM system might be considered a brand asset management system or a library asset management system. The former focuses on brand related content and its reuse within an organization. This content is largely sales & marketing related and would include logos, marketing material or product photos. The latter, a library asset management system has its focus on the storage and retrieval of content that may be considered historical in nature, or in some cases, as with some MerlinOne customers, the DAM serves as a Content Desk, capturing contemporary content from a wide variety of sources, such as photo agencies and staff in addition to archiving historic content.

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What is a MAM?

A MAM system has traditionally been the centerpiece of video or audio workflow. It is part of the A/V production chain, allowing editors to store their content in a central location for access by editors using non-linear editing tools like Adobe Premiere (and others).  

It is easy to see how some use the terms (DAM & MAM) interchangeably. MAMs and DAMs both store stuff and make it easier for others to find stuff and use what they have found. Whether the final destination is for inclusion in a video, or to share to social media, the goals are the same; find content quickly and put it to use.

Benefits of MAM

  • Should excel in the handling of video and include integration with external applications like Avid’s Media Composer, Adobe’s Premiere or Apple’s Final Cut Pro.
  • Should handle versioning requirements, updating A/V content as edits are made.
  • Collaborate across departments and users
  • Lower storage costs by centralizing that function

Benefits of DAM

  • Fast Searching across (literally) millions of stored items collected and managed in a single place. “One-stop-shopping” makes it easy to find content, powerful search tools in a DAM make it fast.
  • Easily share and distribute found content to others both internally, externally or to social networks using the tools that should be available in a robust DAM system.
  • Reduce costs by never having to recreate content that has been lost, misplaced, or the rights are not clear.
  • Collaborate across departments and users
  • Ensure brand integrity but making the most up-to-date versions of your content available to users across your organization
  • Keep track of how and where content has been used
  • Lower costs by centralizing that function

How have the lines between MAM and DAM blurred?  

It is clear that many MAM benefits are also DAM benefits. More recently, DAM systems have come to include features like version control and the ability to store audio and video files. Merlin’s DAM solution MerlinX, for example, converts the spoken word in audio and video files so they may more easily be searched. Users may create sub-clips and frame grabs in Merlin and download them. Merlin even allows the export of an Edit Decision list based on edits in Merlin as a spreadsheet. Sounds a bit like a MAM.

MAM systems are now being used to store graphics and still photography to make that content available to the film editing process in a one-stop shopping process. Sounds a bit like a DAM.

There is definitely cross-over.

Which is better; DAM or MAM?

This depends upon which strengths you are looking for, that is what is right for your organization. If you need tight integration with NLE (non-linear editing) tools, and don’t need to manage brand and marketing materials, a dedicated MAM should be on your shopping list. However, if managing thousands or even millions of different types of assets for lots of different types of users across your organization, look for a versatile DAM…Like MerlinX.

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