MAM vs. DAM Solutions: Finding the Right Clip in a Heap of Video Files

By in Media Management, Video Editing

“I’m sure there’s a shot of that somewhere . . .” It’s a phrase often muttered in the hectic buzz of video-heavy environments, as teams navigate disorganized assets. A corporate marketing team producing a robust video ad and a digital publisher working on bite-sized videos for social can both face similar pitfalls.

Even with the storage capabilities of digital asset management systems, or DAM solutions, it’s no small feat to organize digital and media assets like video clips, images, audio files, graphics, and archived content.

Plus, there’s no shortage of people who need access to these files, both in-house and on the client side. Working across teams adds to the challenge, especially if media assets are stored differently across departments. Employees who don’t have access to an asset management system may spend up to five times longer looking for a digital file, according to MarTech Advisor.

As it stands, a DAM is the more common type of asset management system for marketing and digital publishing. But it’s not the only one. If your team focuses heavily on video content but struggles to produce it efficiently, a media asset management system, or MAM solution, may actually be the better fit.

Breaking Down the Options: MAM or DAM?

A DAM is a library that holds finished images, audio files, documents, HTML files, and videos. Alternatively, MAMs are built specifically for media asset management within a video production workflow. Because of that, MAMs come with strong metadata functionality that make it easier to store and find these files.

Video continues to gain a foothold in marketing and publishing. According to SocialMediaToday, the number of businesses using video in their marketing increased 63% in 2019. But expanding video efforts armed with only DAM solutions could lead to a few sticking points: DAMs may not play well with mission-critical video apps like editing or workflow tools, nor will they have the automation capabilities required in demanding production environments.

MAMs store files, too—then again, they integrate with the entire life cycle of video production, not just storage. A MAM can be configured to provide different levels of support: on the high end, they can facilitate workflows as complex as news or sports broadcasting, but a simpler installation is perfect for supporting collaboration among smaller teams, like those in corporate marketing or digital publishing.

A MAM can simplify some of the time-consuming but unavoidable tasks that come with video production, such as sifting through shots, accessing storage, sharing notes, and integrating with publishing platforms to distribute the content. MAMs act as the central repository where anyone in the workflow can find what they need—projects, bins, sequences, metadata—then edit, modify, and share it.

MAMs Don’t Miss Out on Metadata

One critical distinction between DAMs and MAMs lies in how these solutions handle metadata. Media is a lot easier to find when it’s tied to specific information about when a clip was shot, the camera data, format, location, and what’s said in a cut at a given time. MAMs can import, enhance, and manage all of that, allowing producers to tag the best take, label clips by emotion, or include entire transcripts as metadata. With so many pathways for finding files, it’s easier to spot the right clip to support your story.

MAMs can automate more in-depth labeling, like extracting metadata from audio, scene, or face recognition. Some MAMs can even use AI to automate logging, provide advanced search options, and facilitate time-consuming tasks like transcoding, adding watermarks, and closed captioning. With so much in-depth metadata available, the MAM becomes a time-saver for the team: a rich, easily searchable library that gives organizations more ways to find content at a moment’s notice. You’re not going to get this level of advanced metadata out of most DAMs.

Ultimately, you can’t use what you can’t find. An organization can have all the building blocks to finish a video, but if they’re buried underneath a slew of assets, it’s like they never existed. Working with videos on a regular basis may call for a MAM that tears down bottlenecks in your video production workflow, helping you find your clips without a trail of breadcrumbs.

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Veteran tech journalist Susan Kuchinskas covers digital technology and media from the San Francisco Bay Area.