There are a lot of acronyms thrown around in this world. DAM (digital asset management), MAM (media asset management), ECM (enterprise content management), you’ll even see BAM (brand asset management), and CMS (content management system) is thrown in the mix a lot, too. We’re sorry. It’s mostly needless confusion, and vendors like us are responsible for the mess. MAM (media asset management) is one that comes up frequently and we wanted to provide some clarity around what it is and what it is not.

 

What’s the definition of Media Asset Management?

Media Asset Management (MAM) describes software that provides for the storage, organization, access, and distribution of rich media assets, which includes videos, images, music, and animations.

In other words, it’s the central place to keep all your media files so that the right people can access them.

 

What’s the difference between DAM and MAM?

In the past, there was a difference. Today, not so much. In the bad old days digital asset management (DAM) systems often couldn’t handle media assets. They were limited to text documents and photography. That has changed and now most modern DAMs handle almost all digital file types including document files (DOC, PPT, XLS, PDF), images (JPG, PNG, TIFF, RAW, GIF, BMP), videos (MOV, MP4, MKV, AVI), audio files (WAV, AIFF, PCM, MP3), and even 3-D files.

The main difference you will encounter now is that systems that market themselves as media asset management tools may lean more toward special features used for media production, such as workflow or editing tools for video production.

If you need a tool to manage all of your creative files, including documents, images, videos, audio files, and others, you’re better off looking into modern digital asset management tools than narrowing your search to MAM.

 

Why so many names?

It’s less about real differences between the solutions and more about vendors want to make a distinction to help their marketing. The pressure to form a new market or claim to offer a new type of tool is strong. Vendors like us want to be the shiny new thing to tout so that we can get extra attention.

As a buyer and user of these programs, you don’t need to get hung up on product names or acronyms. You should focus on finding a solution that provides the features you need, is within your budget, and from a company you want to do business with.

 

What to look for in a MAM or DAM system?

We’ve built a selection guide to help you sort through the noise and find the right solution for your organization. It all starts with understanding what your team needs and going from there. You should begin by answering the question, “What problem are you trying to solve?”

That can take many forms depending on the type of business you are in and types of files your team uses. For example:

• Do you need a central repository for licensed photography that your team can access and use with the appropriate rights?

• Are you a video production house that needs a system for storage of a large amount of content and the ability to edit?

• Does your museum need to connect to academic archival systems with robust metadata requirements for researchers and curators?

• Or are you a beer company that needs to share product and marketing materials with salespeople, distributors, and retailers?

Once you have an understanding the problems you are tackling you can dive into strategic choices like whether you need an on-premise system or if an easier-to-use cloud system works best for your team. Other important considerations include whether you need a specialized system, such as a system dedicated to video production with workflow and editing tools or a system for a museum with more sophisticated metadata options.

By understanding your specific needs and challenges you can better sort through the feature lists and know if something is a “must have,” a “nice to have,” or something your team doesn’t need.

Features are only part of a solution, however, and you should consider other things such as support and how the vendor seems as a fit for your team. Do they have a good reputation and are enjoyable to work with during the sales process? You don’t want to end up in a contract with a company who doesn’t care to offer you great service. There are often more important things than feature lists, but at the very least you shouldn’t worry too much if a vendor wants to call it a MAM or a DAM.

For more detail on things to consider when evaluating vendors, check out the DAM selection guide here.

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