DAM vs. CMS – The 3 most important differences

What is the difference between CMS and DAM? Well, Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Content Management Systems (CMS) deal with digital content, but the two systems were developed for entirely different purposes.

A CMS core function is to display and publish editorial content on websites. DAM is a central location where all kinds of files can be created, managed, and used – a content hub.

An overview of the 3 most important differences:

1. Users

A CMS is mainly used by Web-Designers and Content-Editors in marketing while the number of users who would benefit from working with DAM is practically infinite. Large companies in particular have an enormous number of potential users as DAM software can act as a central hub for all kinds of data, from graphic designs to legal documents. Therefore a DAM might be used not only by marketing and design but also by human resources or legal departments. In addition, in a DAM are often assets stored which are relevant across departments. Just think for example about the company logo in different formats and resolutions. 

2. Photos, Videos, Files

A CMS traditionally contains a number of text-heavy files that also serve as text modules and are published on several landing pages. Naturally, images and videos are also used to visually enhance the website, making it more attractive. The CMS also allows you to arrange relevant webpage files in special layouts prior to publishing them on the website.

DAM, however, is home to all files – in all kinds of formats – that are created, managed, and used within a company. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of different images, videos, and texts can be managed from the central content hub. Digital Asset Management thus also enables long-term storage of large amounts of data. Indexing media guarantees that files can be easily searched for and quickly located.

3. Workflows

Finally, there are also big differences between CMS and DAM when it comes to workflow. One great advantage that DAM has, is, that media can be versioned.

What does that mean, exactly? If, for example, the marketing department updates the company presentation, then you automatically have access to the latest version thanks to a DAM. This ensures content consistency. DAM also facilitates the approval process, particularly for creatives working together with agencies.

Workflows in CMS are designated by content that is relevant to the homepage, and its release for publication. The separate archive in which photos and texts for publication are stored in CMS has to be managed separately and checked for validity. If a user wishes to add an image to a blog entry on the website, s/he first has to upload this to the internal CMS library and decide on a filing structure.

In summary, the purposes of a CMS and a DAM are very different and the two system functions can perfectly complement each other. A combination of CMS and DAM is the optimal solution when it comes to simplifying time-consuming workflows in CMS and reducing these to just a few work steps. By combining the two systems, companies can achieve innovative advantages, saving time and money.

How does the combination of CMS and DAM work in everyday business?

If you have connected your CMS to DAM, you continue to work as usual in the normal CMS user interface. However, instead of using the internal, separate media library, you intuitively select images and other media files using the central content hub. All release processes and production steps have already been taken at this point, and you do not have to first upload the file to the system. This also ensures that you only ever use the currently authorized photos. All you have to do is select the image or video of your choice and insert it in the desired position on the website.
Possible error sources and long, tedious searches can thus be avoided using the combination of CMS and DAM.

Our advice

Look for an experienced partner when it comes to integrating DAM in CMS (this is the technical term) – one who can assist you as a specialist in the technical implementation, as well as in preparation and follow-up. At CELUM, we offer DAM-integration for the leading CMS’ such as WordPress, TYPO3, Sitecore, FirstSpirit, Drupal, and many more. You can see the full list of CELUM CMS Connectors on our Marketplace.

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