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DAM vs MAM vs BAM vs everything else

Content management software acronyms demystified

Start investigating content management solutions and it’s easy to disappear down a rabbit hole of TLAs – three-letter acronyms. BAM, MAM and DAM, PAM, PIM and VAM – the list is seemingly endless. Let’s look at what they all mean, who they’re for, and which one is right for you.

Breaking down the industry jargon

The software world loves a good three-letter acronym (TLA). From API (Application Programming Interface) to ZUI (zoomable user interface), the list spans the alphabet and can baffle the uninitiated. And there’s no let up when it comes to the various competing and complementary asset management platforms vying for your attention.

From the marketing focus of BAM (brand asset management) to the specialisation of video asset management (VAM), there’s a TLA obscuring every solution.

Making informed software decisions means blowing away the TLA smokescreen, and understanding what lies behind it. So, if you need to tell your MAM from your PAM, and understand which solution is actually right for you, we’ve got you covered.

To begin, it makes sense to divide asset management solutions into two groups. The first contains software aimed at enterprise, rich-media, and business enablement solutions. These use cases demand powerful asset management platforms, often with advanced features such as fast global distribution at scale.

The second group encompasses solutions for creative workflows and for brand and marketing management. The software in this group may share many features with platforms from the first group, but it’s more tightly focused on supporting creative and iterative processes, and streamlining collaborative working.

Let’s look at each group and the solutions that fall into them.

Group 1

Enterprise and business enablement

content management - business enablement

The asset management platforms in this group are designed to offer rich features to enterprises, major organisations and media companies who need the tools to categorise, store and distribute assets. While the group contains quite different applications such as media asset management and enterprise content management, it’s important to understand there’s a large degree of feature overlap between each.

What is business enablement?

According to an Accenture report, 89% of executives believe that “their organisation’s ability to generate business value will increasingly be based on the limitations and opportunities of their technology architecture.”

Business enablement, therefore, can be defined as any technology-driven initiative that is introduced to boost employee productivity. Such initiatives will ultimately streamline processes, eliminate/reduce manual tasks, increase collaboration and empower people to work more efficiently.

Asset management platforms aimed at enterprise and business enablement applications typically offer:

● Enterprise-grade security – e.g. encryption of assets at rest and in transit
● Scalability – cloud flexibility
Metadata and searchability – automated and AI-driven tagging to aid easy retrieval
● Integration – APIs and programmatic support for stack and workflow integrations
● Analytics – detailed asset sharing and consumption reporting
● Distribution – accelerated global delivery supporting fast content sharing

Digital asset management (DAM)

Content management and DAM

Arguably, all of the asset management solutions on the market fall within the umbrella of digital asset management. DAM platforms exist to provide a safe and authoritative library of an organisation’s key digital assets: the documents, logos, photos, videos, code or other assets that help define what the business is, and support it in everything it does.

Storage is critical to all the roles performed by a DAM. While on-premises software exists, the best modern solutions are built in the cloud. They provide scalable and secure, highly accessible file storage, with access controlled through user, team or project-level permissions.

There’s no point storing files you can’t find again, so DAMs use metadata-driven search features to help users locate key assets. This ease with which files can be retrieved from a DAM is the strongest element of the business case for them – a DAM can save thousands of pounds in wasted time and asset duplication costs each year.

Media asset management (MAM)

Media asset management platform

Media asset management can be regarded as a specialised type of digital asset management. MAM is focused specifically on the media files used by news and media organisations, and other publishers and rights holders in the media sphere.

In addition to typical DAM features, a MAM solution provides content-specific features designed to support the easy archiving, retrieval, licensing and sale of videos, photos and other rich media files. For example, in the content ingest phase, a MAM can extract the embedded metadata that describes the technical aspects of a picture or video – e.g. the date, time, location, as well as any available descriptive information. EXIF, IPTC and XMP data can be pulled out in this way, saved as searchable metadata and/or applied as tags to help users categorise and retrieve media.

MAM platforms may include branded portals through which organisations can share their content with internal stakeholders. These may also support streaming or download delivery to end-users. Technically, cloud-based MAMs may be optimised to support robust and fast delivery at scale, or in multiple territories.

Video asset management (VAM)

Content management and VAM

If media asset management (MAM) can be seen as a specialised form of DAM, video asset management is a further specialisation focused chiefly on video assets. Ideal for rights holders, production companies and over-the-top streaming services, VAM-capable platforms start with the huge storage needed to store hours of broadcast quality, high-definition video content.

On top of this, VAM-friendly software provides specialised features to improve the cataloguing and retrieval of content. Here, developments in AI technology are driving features such as automatic transcription and scene or actor recognition, further accelerating and enhancing catalogue use and reuse.

VAM features may also include high-bandwidth regional distribution hubs, and rich video playback metrics and analytics. Platforms may provide multiple ways to monetise video content, such as self-service licensing portals. In practice, there’s no such thing as a dedicated video asset management platform. The best MAM platforms contain all the tools and enhancements necessary to deliver VAM capabilities.

Production asset management (PAM)

Production asset management platform

If you work in a field with fast-changing digital assets and the need to support and improve production workflows, production asset management is for you. PAM systems are built to support the regular movement, iteration and revision of digital media assets, most commonly in fields such as animation, game development and filmmaking.

PAMs help simplify and prevent mistakes when large numbers of assets are updated on a daily basis. They support common content production processes, applying version control to ensure consistency among multiple versions, and between multiple stakeholders. Inbuilt support for video editing and workflow-friendly approval processes help ensure quality control in the finished product.

Production information management (PIM)


Product information management software is aimed at organisations who manufacture, distribute or sell products, either in the supply chain or to end users. PIM systems hold a library of definitive product information, such as specifications, legal approvals, regulatory tests, and all the other information needed by internal or external stakeholders.

A PIM might also house supporting media such as product photos, videos, or even approved text blocks. By sharing this with retail partners, marketers, journalists or influencers, manufacturers and distributors can ensure the public has the right information, and that their products are presented in the best possible light.

Enterprise content management (ECM)

What is ECM

Enterprise content management is the process of collecting, storing, managing and – when needed – retrieving all the information a company needs to support its business goals. Fundamental to this is having the software systems in place to enable the large-scale storage of key ECM documentation, digital assets and other resources.

An ECM platform is designed to optimise and support all enterprise content management activities. ECM software simplifies the capture, storage and easy analysis and recall of crucial business information. ECM systems maximise the use and value of information within the enterprise. They support advanced integrations with other business systems and technologies (such as SAP, Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce), helping to automate processes, increase productivity and improve efficiency throughout the organisation.

Group 2

Brand, marketing and creative solutions

Marrketing and creative teams

For creatives, marketers and brand specialists, the focus is often on accelerating internal processes, driving efficiency and improving collaboration. Asset management solutions aimed at these groups are typically simplified and streamlined compared to enterprise asset management platforms. Again, there’s a large overlap in features between, say, a brand asset management (BAM) platform and a document management system (DMS) – indeed, leading solutions are ideal for either role.

Brand, marketing and creative asset management solutions usually offer:

● Strong security – e.g. encryption of assets at rest and in transit
● Cloud flexibility – scalable, access-anywhere space supporting distributed stakeholders
● Metadata and searchability – automated and AI-driven tagging to aid easy retrieval
● Integration – APIs and programmatic support for stack and workflow integrations
● Collaboration – e.g. granular user controls, in-line commenting, version control
● Analytics – asset sharing and consumption reporting

Brand asset management (BAM)

BAM - acronyms

A brand’s strength depends largely on its ability to carefully manage and control its own identity. In marketing, communications and day-to-day activities, presenting consistent, strong branding is fundamental to success. Marketers and comms professionals who want to achieve this need help to manage their assets: that’s the raison d’ etre of brand asset management systems.

BAMs are a specialised form of digital asset management system, designed to act as a single point of truth for brand materials and resources. Built around a secure, version-controlled storage space, they ensure that everyone in the organisation has access to approved logos, videos, copy blocks, idents and all brand assets.

A cloud-based BAM supports modern marketing workflows, providing easy but secure access to internal stakeholders, and the agencies and freelancers they work with. BAMs are strong on collaborative working features, supporting annotation and in-line comments. They also help end the wasting of resources on searching for lost assets, and recreating the ones that can’t be found.

Marketing resource management (MRM)

If brand asset management is about protecting those assets that define the brand, marketing resource management takes a step back: it aims to energise and accelerate all marketing activities. MRM software supports and simplifies multichannel marketing operations, integrating with other tools in the martech stack to help improve and automate processes.

MRM solutions ensure the integrity of all marketing assets – from logos, photos and videos through to copy blocks and templates. By making it easy to find and use the right assets, MRM helps marketers hit the ground running with new campaigns and initiatives. And by accelerating time to market, MRM helps marketers demonstrate greater value through improved and faster results.

Some MRM platforms feature budget management modules, and analytics to help teams identify the activities that drive engagement, conversions, or help satisfy other business goals. Overall, MRM helps enable more active and responsive marketing, more suited to today’s audiences, and the customer-focused organisations seeking to engage them.

Image management system (IMS)

What is image management

Image management systems exist to solve the problem of organising, preserving and distributing images within an organisation. While that might sound like a specialist application, the reality is that today’s businesses increasingly need a ready library of images for their brand and products – not to mention their marketing activities across digital channels.

IMS helps organisations by providing a centralised repository for photos, graphics, logos and other image files. Rather than leaving files scattered across servers, IMS makes it easy for marketers, comms professionals and others in the organisation to find approved, appropriate images to support their work.

Aside from the time and resources saved by being able to find and reuse existing assets, IMS makes collaboration easier between internal teams and their agency or freelance partners. It’s fast becoming an important tool for any organisation seeking to organise for a digital world.

Document management system (DMS)


As documents increasingly go digital, organisations are escaping the problems of handling and storing paper – only to discover new challenges. The need to securely store, search and reference documents is as important as ever in the digital domain – and it’s just as easy to lose critical information down the back of a digital filing cabinet.

Enter document management systems. Like all digital asset management solutions, a DMS centres on a secure and scalable repository for assets. Powerful metadata, categorisation and search features ensure that documents can be found, and their contents easily accessed.

A DMS is specialised software that reflects the particular challenges of storing and archiving documents. For example, powerful user access controls help to ensure that proprietary, privileged or other confidential information remains so. They’re not just about archiving, either, with features to support iterative and collaborative production of new documents, along with the necessary compliance or approval stages.

Content management system (CMS)


In our journey through the TLAs of asset management, content management systems are something of an outlier. While the MAMs, PIMs and BAMs we’ve discussed could all be considered specialised digital asset management applications, a CMS is specifically the asset management system for a website.

How do they differ? A CMS is designed primarily to publish its contents, rather than share them. It usually lacks the extensive user access control of a DAM solution, along with its powerful metadata and search features.

That said, there can be overlap between the two: a DAM platform can serve assets such as videos for a web page, while the CMS hosts its other components. In this particular example, the visitor experience would be accelerated, while the organisation would benefit from the additional security or analytics provided by the DAM.

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