A typical workplace produces very many digital assets every day. In recent years, cloud technology has become an almost default storage solution for companies of all types and sizes, from one-person shows to global enterprises. While local drives and closed networks are unquestionably still present, cloud storage is practically everywhere, thanks to its flexibility and retrievability, automatic backups, security layers and manageable costs.
Perhaps More than anything else, what makes cloud storage a main staple of the modern-day office (and our personal lives) is how convenient they make it to share files, both internally and externally. These virtual cabinets make any file easily findable and instantly available to anyone. Still, some files deserve closer attention. That’s where digital asset management (DAM) software comes in.
What Is Digital Asset Management
Take company logos, for example. Not only are they vital brand assets that must be dealt with extreme care, but they’re also used repeatedly by various people in the organization. If that’s not enough, they come in different sizes, formats, and variants to match distinct settings and use cases. The same goes for other marketing and sales collateral, such as product images and one-pagers, and any content type at large, including documents, texts, and binary files. Digital asset management let users store, organize, and share all these in one centralized location so that nothing gets lost or misemployed.
One of digital asset management’s most significant differentiators over cloud folders that they keep each asset with pertinent valuable information, i.e., metadata. This way, team members don’t have to go by nomenclature, memory, or colleagues’ goodwill to dig up what they need. Simultaneously, it also prevents employees from creating multiple (redundant) copies of the same file.
Ideally, digital asset management help streamlines creative workflows and core tasks. A DAM system’s workflows power the lifecycle of a digital asset – from approval to archiving – to facilitate sharing and distribution. For example, DAMs should let users convert and resize files directly within the platform, sometimes without bringing 3rd party apps into play (and if so, seamlessly).
Unlike cloud folders, which normally center around users, files added to DAMs become available to everyone in the organization. Of course, users can still govern permissions and manage restrictions. Furthermore, if an asset is shared somewhere or with someone outside the organization, some DAMs make it possible to add watermarks and other licensing protocol beforehand. You can also track and examine how assets are used and by whom.
Ok Then How Are MAMs Different?
Both have a lot in common in terms of storage and easy, ubiquitous access. But suppose digital asset management are the umbrella solution for all file and content types. In that case, Media Asset Management, or MAM, is a specialized solution for the creation of high-volume videos and rich multimedia files. Historically, Media Asset Management developed in the entertainment industry to back non-linear production without losing or compromising media data.
Today, these systems still make an essential part of the content production and approval processes. It’s where the video production team, not in the entertainment industry necessarily, store and manage footage, list files, source files, subsequent edits, and versions. MAMs then handle search requests, media transformation and manipulation, and integration with editing software. While they do all that amazingly well, they’re more equipped for local and small-scale video management, and are less than ideal for many end-user’s type scenario. Namely, it’s typically used to allow cloud or network access to all assets during pre-production in no-frills environments somewhat stripped of user experience components.
Over the years, DAMs have evolved to resemble their media-focused complements, and many of them now do a fair job handling and supporting rich media files and their creation process. Nonetheless, there’s no escaping that they were designed primarily for file and content storage and sharing. So, while many now boast version control, converting audio to text, and basic editing, they still don’t count as expert pre-production machines.
There’s undeniably cross-over in the other direction too. In other words, Media Asset Management systems can now manage graphics and imagery just as well as videos. And that’s not all they’ve learned to do.
So, How to Choose Between a DAM and a MAM?
A DAM will safely keep and manage all your files, marketing materials, and media assets while maintaining easy access and deployment to a subset of users. Most available systems also integrate with a wide range of creation and marketing tools, so they’ll also see to it that remote teams and ones working from home don’t need to constantly switch apps, download/upload files, or email them to one another.
Video and high-volume multimedia files require additional features and discreet capabilities to stay on top of different workflows. If your team produces many videos, and especially if you have an in-house video crew, then there’s a good chance a media asset management is right for you. To make things even clearer, if you need a MAM, then you probably know you need it, and there’s a good chance you’re already using one.
Still, if you and your brand rely heavily on videos (as well you should), and even if a MAM is an overkill for your production needs that’ll leave you wanting in the delivery and sharing department, perhaps DAMs aren’t a perfect fit nonetheless. For instance, video files are getting larger, requiring a suitable infrastructure for optimized storage and upgraded media management. And that’s not all.
The Case for Media-Centric DAMS
In a sense, DAMs now require a DAM-within-a-DAM for video. If DAMs provide an abstraction layer to the mandatory shared drive, we’re at a point where digital complexity requires a 2nd layer of abstraction to keep video and media manageable. Why?
Media asset managament are almost too perfect for the pre-production phase. But what happens post-production? Say, if someone on the team needs to make a small change. With the right tool at their side, they won’t need any other A/V creation tools or even videography experience to carry out such elementary tasks. Anyone on the team could shorten a video, break it into small clips, and create new segments from the original footage.
Now that you have your video, you want people to view it, right? If the answer is yes, you’ll need transcoding. See, a 55-inch TV doesn’t require the same sized video as a mobile phone. If that was the case, videos would either look awfully grainy when played on big screens or take forever to load on our smartphones. Transcoding converts each uploaded video into various formats, resolutions, and qualities to optimize it for peak performance and favorable bandwidth consumption on any device type and OS. This process demands a whole bunch of powerful processors, so unless your DAM can take it, you’ll need to stack up on a lot of server power.
3. Quality Delivery
All that rich media greatness comes at a high cost in terms of file size. Even with transcoding at hand, you’ll need a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reduce load times. A CDN places cached versions of your files on globally distributed servers so that in due time the one closest to the end–user will play it without any hick-ups.
4. A Player
No matter how fast that video gets to where it needs to go, it still needs a media player to play on. It’s a good idea to have it ready built-in. If you think we’re stating the obvious, bear in mind that players now offer a lot more than a framework to play (and pause) video with – they make up a lot of the user experience. We’re talking a lot more controls, adaptive bitrate, layout options, DVR, and much more.
5. Choosing Thumbnails
Do you know that Netflix creates a set of different thumbnails for each title? Depending on the user’s viewing preferences (if they love horror movies, for example), they’ll display the thumbnail most likely to get them to click. You might not have 200 million subscribers, but you’ll need to give some thought to thumbnails when you embed your video somewhere. Once you have, you’ll want a solution that lets you choose the perfect frame or replace it with any image you’d like.
6. Captions & Subtitles
Captions and subtitles make your videos accessible to practically anyone, including viewers with disabilities or those who don’t speak the same language. Then again, adding them can be a bit of a hassle. Unless you have a solution in place to do it automatically. And it’s not just about video playback — all that text can be added to the indexed metadata.
7. Advanced Search
Bringing us to the world of searching. Rich media files, such as videos, stow richer metadata. And more metadata translated into better search potential. If you have a system with robust search capabilities, that is.
8. Collecting Data
From metadata to data: the first describes the basic information built-in to your file, and the latter the metrics and statistics that indicate how well it’s doing. We mentioned earlier that DAMs, unlike shared folders, provide some tracking on how a file is used, as do most present-day MAMs. Only that with videos and media, you can get much more granular. Are viewers dropping off halfway through? Or are they pausing and rewinding a lot? At what hours of the day do they prefer to watch and how many times? How focused and engaged are they? You want all this data, and you want it available in a coherent UI or dashboard that’ll make it easy to measure performance and further analyze.
Still Can’t Make Up Your Mind?
Worry not. Given this day and age’s surplus of assets and files, you’re probably not the only one. To make things more complicated, the ever-growing focus on user experience and engagement, along with 2020’s social distancing, put a bigger emphasis on videos of all kinds and formats. Perhaps you’re already using a DAM that caters to all your needs. But now, you wished it had a little more video-oomph to it. If that’s the case, then perhaps you’d like to know that you can do precisely that with video APIs.
That’s right; you can continue using your DAM of choice or building your solution and integrate it with a headless content management system to store, edit, and publish high-quality media and video content regardless of the interface. This type of architecture is how Oracle CX users can quickly review, transform, and approve media assets and digital content and even pull video playback metrics.
Similarly, you and/or your users can also enjoy sturdy and reliable media management features, as well as interactive experiences, impromptu creation tools, and easy repurposing, to name a few more. Arguably, the best thing about building it yourself is that it’s tailored precisely for what you need. No overkills and no need to settle for less.