What you need to know about DAM and MAM

Marketing Asset Management (MAM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) serve two different sets of needs. There’s been a lot of confusion about the difference between the two. This paper is intended to clear things up.

Overview: The difference between DAM and MAM
This paper will give you an in-depth definition of both DAM and MAM, helping you understand their differences and the specific benefits each is designed to provide to you.

Here are concise definitions of DAM and MAM from the perspective of the marketing function:

  •  DAM platform is a central online repository for your organization’s individual digital marketing files, including static documents, photos, illustrations, audio and videos. The DAM platform lets you easily organize all of your files, and allows authorized users to instantly find and retrieve specific files for use in creating marketing collateral. DAM is the solution for organizations with the need to manage a large volume of individual digital assets, with many people accessing and using those assets.
  • MAM platform is a central online repository for your organization’s marketing collateral, including brochures, catalogs, mail pieces, signage, emails and campaign web landing pages. The MAM platform automates the production of collateral across your organization with pre-approved templates stored online. Authorized users can log into the platform and customize collateral for their local needs as allowed by the templates. The templates lock corporate branding elements in place to preserve your organization’s brand. Users can then order and quickly receive their customized collateral as PDFs or printed pieces. MAM is the solution for organizations with the need to manage a large number of sales and marketing distribution points that have custom collateral needs.

Let’s now explore DAM and MAM in-depth. We’ll start with a little history.

The Digital File Explosion
In the 1990s, a dramatic shift from paper files to digital files occurred. Documents, photos, audio, video and other file types, which until then had been created and stored in hard copy or analog formats, shifted to being generated using convenient digital formats. The rise of the Internet in the mid-to-late ‘90s accelerated this shift, and the growth of social media and mobile platforms in the 2000s led to an outright explosion in the creation of digital files.

All these files have to be stored somewhere where they’ll be safe and retrievable. For the past few decades, hard drives have done this job. But if you’ve ever had trouble finding that email from three months ago or that family vacation photo from several years ago that’s on one of your old hard drives,  you know that storage and retrieval are not enough. You need a way to be able to quickly find those files.

But being able to quickly find those files isn’t quite enough though, because you’ll also want to make sure that Junior can’t accidentally delete that vacation photo from your hard drive. And, perhaps that photo has content inappropriate for Junior to view just yet, so you’ll want to control access to that photo.

Finally, maybe you’ve done some retouching of that photo in a program like Photoshop, and you want to save and access both the untouched original and the modified version. In that case, you’ll need a way to manage versioning of your photos.

These are the same issues confronting all kinds of companies and institutions today, but on a much larger scale. They’ve got terabytes of digital files of all types they need to keep safely stored and quickly retrievable for their business needs. They need to control access to those files to ensure they are used properly. And in many cases they need to maintain multiple versions of each file for different uses.

For one photo alone, you might have different resolutions for high-quality print, PDF and web use; with multiple sizes at each resolution, plus four-color (CMYK) for printing on paper, three color (RGB) for web, and black and white versions too. The photo might even be cropped in different ways to show only parts of it, depending on where the photo will be used. And finally, in addition to the original picture, you might also have a retouched version to enhance color, remove blemishes, sharpen important features and blur other features.

Example: “Photo: Company Sales Conference, Miami, May 2005”

sales conference attendees

Possible Versions Of This Photo:

Multiple versions of digital media

Digital Asset Management (DAM):
The Solution To The Digital File Explosion

DAM technology gained adoption in the early ‘90s to contain the explosion of digital files and bring order to the chaos. Movie houses, TV studios, print publishers, music publishers, advertising agencies and educational institutions became instant candidates for this solution, as did any organization with a large volume of digital files to manage. Since that time, the DAM industry has evolved to keep pace with the exponential increase in digital files within company firewalls, online and on mobile platforms, with a large number of vendors now offering robust enterprise solutions.

DAM: Your Digital Librarian
A DAM platform lets you store, catalog, control and retrieve your digital assets from a central repository via an online portal, over the Internet or on your intranet. You can think of DAM as your digital librarian, ready to help you find and borrow whatever you need.

We define assets as files that:

1. Have some marketing value (they can either be sold or licensed, or can aid the selling process in some way), and

2. Have metadata attached to them, which are the search terms that allow you to easily locate these file stored on the DAM.

Your assets can include graphics (.jpg, .png, .gif, .eps, etc.), documents (.docx, .xlsx, .ppt, .txt, .pdf, etc.), native design files (such as Adobe .indd, .ai, .psd), audio (.mp3, .wav, .aif, etc.), video (.mp4, .mov, .wmv) and more.

From a sales and marketing perspective, DAM is a way to provide corporate approved digital assets in a way that lets you protect the brand by controlling who has access to those assets. For this reason, you may sometimes hear DAM described as Brand Asset Management.

Key Functions of a DAM Platform:
• Store
• Catalog
• Search / Retrieve
• Version Control
• Access Control

The physical storage of your digital assets will take place on hard drives and other media (like tape backups), on your premises, in the cloud, and in off-site data centers, according to your IT infrastructure needs. The DAM platform will be the interface to your stored assets.

Like the librarian, the DAM platform catalogs your digital assets so that they can be quickly found and retrieved. Think of it like going to the public library (DAM) to check out a book (asset), and using the computer or card catalog file (catalog) to quickly find the location (storage) of the book so you can check it out (retrieve). There may be several descriptive terms (metadata) associated with the book, such as title, author and subject, which you can use to search for that book. For cataloging to work efficiently, it is important to choose relevant, specific metadata that is most likely to be used in search queries, and therefore speeds up the search process. It’s also critical to assign metadata to each asset when it is created to ensure that the asset can easily be found by other users from that time forward.

The DAM platform lets you easily log in and start entering search terms to find the exact asset you are looking for. Whoever sets up and administers your DAM platform will have set up a taxonomy, or set of standard search terms to make it as easy as possible for you to narrow your search. The taxonomy will include things like asset titles, subject matter, digital format, date and version, and any other characteristics that are relevant for searching. The goal is to help you find exactly what you are looking for quickly so you can get on with your work. The DAM platform then lets you download the file, as long as you have the proper access permissions. (See “Access Control” below).

Version Control:
A good DAM platform gives you version control. That means that every time you update an asset, a new version is created, old versions are kept, and all versions are properly cataloged so you know which is which. Why is this important? Because, without version control, you’d either have to overwrite an old version of an asset, which you might want to keep if you later decide you don’t like the newer version; or, you’d have to manually save the new version as a separate asset, which just adds complexity to cataloging and searching. Simpler is better.

Access Control:
Throughout your organization, staff should only have access to the digital files that are relevant to their roles and which they’re trained to use properly. At the same time, staff should be restricted from files they don’t need to use or which may be sensitive or confidential, requiring special clearances. Likewise, any copyrighted material that must be licensed should have its access controlled to ensure only permitted uses of these assets. A DAM system lets you easily set permissions for individual users and groups, with login verification required.

Digital Asset Management portal

Digital Asset Management Portal

What DAM Doesn’t Do
DAM is very good at what it does: being your helpful librarian of digital assets. And with its access control, a DAM platform can help you maintain brand consistency by controlling who can use those assets.

But once those assets are in the hands of your users, what happens next? How do you control how your staff uses those assets? For instance, DAM lets you control which photos and logos an outside salesperson can access. But, once that salesperson has retrieved the assets, how do you then control the way the salesperson designs the collateral pieces that incorporate those assets?

Typical scenario: One of your outside salespeople asks your marketing team for a customized collateral piece for a local trade show. Your team is too busy to fulfill the request. So your salesperson acquires some photos and logos (hopefully from your DAM platform and not from your website or other unauthorized source) and designs his own piece using Microsoft Word. The piece uses fonts that are not part of your brand. The logo is sized much larger than normally allowed. The design is cluttered, and the copy writing is, well, amateurish. To top it all off, the salesperson just ran 500 copies at Kinko’s on cheap paper using a color copier. This is not the way to protect your corporate brand!

This scenario is playing out frequently in all kinds of organizations. What’s needed is a way to centrally control the brand not just with access control for assets, but also design control for collateral.

Marketing Asset Management (MAM):
On Demand Custom Collateral With Full Design Control

MAM serves as a central repository with controlled access to your collateral, just like DAM is the central repository for your individual digital assets. Collateral includes:

• Brochures
• Flyers
• Catalogs
• Direct mail pieces
• Signage and point-of-purchase displays
• Business cards
• Stationery
• Emails for campaigns
• Web pages (landing pages tied to email campaigns)

MAM lets you take any collateral pieces you’d like to make available to your users and create dynamic templates for them. Authorized users can then access these templates from the central repository via an online portal, just as they’d access digital assets via a DAM portal.

Marketing Asset Management portal

Marketing Asset Management Portal

Dynamic Templates: Customization With Brand Control
Dynamic templates let authorized users make changes to them. The beauty of these templates is that as an administrator:

• You can set which parts of a template are variable and can be changed by users to suit their local needs
• You can set which parts are restricted and therefore cannot be changed by users, allowing you to protect your brand

Once the template is uploaded to the MAM portal, it will automatically protect the brand for you while
letting users tailor the variable parts to their local needs.

Examples of parts you might want to make variable are:
• Local contact information
• Photos and illustrations relevant to a specific product line or geographic region
• Headlines and copy
• Product descriptions and photos – for instance, to customize a catalog for specific needs, or a menu for a specific restaurant location
• Local pricing

Examples of parts you might want to restrict to protect your brand are:
• Design of the piece
• Headlines and copy
• Fonts
• Size and placement of logos
• Size and placement of photos and illustrations
• Availability of photos, illustrations and logos
• Product descriptions and photos (for example, a dealer for one product line wouldn’t get access to items from another product line)

Example: A Typical Product Flyer

Printed flyer

Here’s what the MAM template for the flyer looks like:

MAM printed flyer template

In this example, the corporate marketing department has decided which elements should be variable for the outside user to alter and which should be restricted for brand control, according to these rules:
• Banner image – Variable. Outside user can choose from four options to insert.
• Headline – Restricted. Cannot be altered by the outside user.
• Product Descriptions – Partially restricted, partially variable. Outside user can choose from multiple product blocks to insert into the flyer, but cannot change the image or copy within those
product blocks.
• Corporate Logo – Restricted. Cannot be altered or replaced.
• Local Contact Information – Variable. Determined by the outside user.
• Placement and alignment of objects in the layout – Restricted. Locked by the template.
• Font family and styles – Restricted. Locked by the template.

The marketing department can revise the template at any time. As soon as the revised template is uploaded to the MAM portal, all authorized users will have immediate access to it. This ensures constant availability of the very latest collateral.

DAM is Built-In
A MAM platform actually has its own built-in DAM (without the fancier features of a dedicated DAM platform) housing all of the digital assets that could be used within collateral templates on the MAM platform. The MAM platform can also allow users to create and store their own libraries of digital assets in the platform’s DAM.

Self Service Relieves Your Marketing Team
By creating customizable collateral templates and making them accessible to your user base, your internal team no longer has to fulfill individual requests for collateral. The MAM platform is self-service, letting outside users log in, customize collateral themselves, and order their collateral with no involvement from your team. Best of all, the MAM platform is designed to scale infinitely, able to serve a limitless number of users automatically.

Sales & Marketing Channels

When to Bring In The MAM
To recap what we learned at the start of this paper:

DAM is the solution for organizations with the need to manage a large volume of individual digital assets, with many people accessing and using those assets.

MAM is the solution for organizations with the need to manage a large number of sales and marketing distribution points with custom collateral needs.

You should bring in the MAM if your organization has:
• Many distribution points (geographically distributed sales and marketing representatives, dealers, distributors, retailers, etc.)
• A need to customize collateral to meet the needs of individual distribution points
• Many types and pieces of collateral
• Collateral that is updated often

Examples of industries that benefit from MAM:
• Restaurant chains
• Franchises
• Retail chains
• Manufacturers selling through dealer/distributor networks
• Pharmaceutical companies
• Healthcare organizations
• Insurance providers
• Real estate groups
• Financial institutions and broker/dealer networks
• Membership organizations with multiple chapters
• Educational institutions

So…DAM, or MAM?
The answer is, you might need both. If you’ve got a lot of digital files to manage and a lot of users of those files, then you’re a prime candidate for a DAM platform. If you have a distributed sales and marketing organization, a lot of collateral and a need to customize that collateral on a regular basis, then you’re a prime candidate for a MAM platform. And if both situations apply to you, then you might need both a DAM and a MAM platform. Because even though a MAM platform has built-in DAM capability, your organization might need a more robust DAM solution than a MAM platform can provide.

Choosing the right DAM or MAM platforms for your organization requires a fair amount of research and planning to meet your organization’s current needs while scaling for future needs. DAM and MAM platforms come in many flavors and from many vendors. Some vendors offer hybrid platforms that incorporate both DAM and MAM capabilities.

You’ll want to perform an in-depth analysis of how your organization generates and uses assets and collateral now, and how ideally these activities would be accomplished going forward. Then take a look at what the various DAM and MAM platforms provide, how hard or easy they are to implement and use, and if they can grow to accommodate your evolving needs over time.

Where to learn more
DAM: Here’s an excellent eBook that you can download for free from PicturePark, one of the providers of DAM solutions: DAM Survival Guide by David Diamond. This comprehensive guide will help you determine your needs, evaluate alternatives and implement a solution. (It’s also an entertaining read.)

MAM: Talk to one of the Marketing Asset Management enterprise solutions specialists at ZUZA | Marketing Asset Management, the company which authored this solution brief. ZUZA has provided MAM solutions to companies of all sizes for the better part of a decade. We’ll be happy to help you analyze your needs and suggest the best platform for managing your digital assets and collateral. You can reach us at 800.350.9411