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Light DAM vs. Full DAM: What’s the Difference?

Phillipe de Alberti avatar

Phillipe de Alberti

VP of Product

5 min read

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Understandably, the digital asset management (DAM) space has always been a little bit confusing. Since there are so many DAM solutions available, the lines have become blurry on what differentiates the variety of solutions out there. And, in addition to the number of DAM solutions available, the introduction of “light DAMs” has caused even more confusion. What is a light DAM and how does it differentiate from a traditional DAM solution? In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between the two, and how to choose which one is best for your organization.

What is a Light DAM?

A light DAM is essentially a digital asset library within another SaaS solution such as CMS, Work OS, etc. Typically, they have light functionality and are employed with the understanding that the assets will mostly be used within the parent or hosting solution.

Key Features of a Light DAM

1. Asset Previews: Basic previews of your assets are available, typically only for photos and videos.

2. Share Links: Share links can be created for individual assets for easy sharing from within the solution.

3. Basic Search: Users can search for assets with a file name, description, and (sometimes) other basic metadata.

The Bottom Line

For companies who have light digital asset needs and a small library, the capabilities of a light DAM may just fit the bill. Small organizations who need to access assets from a central library, and easily find and share them would see a benefit from employing a light DAM and probably wouldn’t need the sophisticated and robust functionality offered by a full DAM solution.

What is a Full DAM?

Full DAM solutions are built specifically to store, manage, and distribute your digital assets. They offer excellent functionality that allows users to manage most types of digital files and perform a variety of beneficial tasks, including re-sizing and re-formatting media, tracking usage history, and sharing large files easily. With features like branded portals and permission-based user settings, a DAM ensures that only the right individuals have access to the assets they need, protecting your library and ensuring maximum security.

Key Features of a Full DAM

1. Easy Sharing: A DAM has multiple features, such as web galleries, portals, and distribution links, that allow for the easy sharing of large media files, such as high-resolution images, large-format videos, etc.

2. Asset Security: A DAM offers version control, history tracking, and watermarking, as well as enhanced security and compliance to ensure full control over digital assets for both internal and external users.

3. File Discoverability: A DAM makes storing, managing, and finding brand and marketing material easy with artificial intelligence, keywords, and advanced search capabilities.

The Bottom Line

A full DAM solution is best for companies that need a streamlined way to produce, store and distribute a large amount of rich media content (photos, videos, audio, and more). Companies with a growing library of media assets or distributed teams likely require more complete solutions and long-term strategies for their ever-growing digital asset management needs.

Why Organizations Upgrade from Light DAM to Full DAM

Organizations that are having a hard time managing their content and are in need of a more robust solution to manage their content—especially rich media, have probably outgrown their current solution and would benefit from upgrading to a full DAM solution.

While organizations gain vast benefits from upgrading to a full DAM from a light DAM, here are a few noteworthy features:

  • Sharing: Not only can users share all popular formats and sizes of files, but a DAM allows them to instantly send files of up to 200 GBs to anyone, anywhere in the world, no matter what browser or operating system they’re using. Firewalls aren’t an issue as only links are used, eliminating the need for attachments.
  • Searching: A DAM offers additional advanced search features, including AI auto-tagging, that allow users to find what they're looking for without the hassle of sifting through a large number of assets.
  • Asset Rendering and Resizing: A DAM enables users to crop or customize the format and size of each asset when they use them.
  • User Permissions: Custom views and access for teams and individuals ensure that all users can only access what’s relevant to them.
  • Integrations: Teams can use their assets in several other platforms, creating a more advanced and well-rounded solution.
  • Scalability: As your team and/or assets grow, the number of people who need access to them may also expand. A DAM scales easily to thousands of users while keeping assets safe and secure.

How Do I Know Which is Right for Me?

Small organizations that don’t work with very much content and only need to store a small number of brand assets and stock photos, may only need a light DAM solution. On the other hand, organizations that are creating, purchasing, and storing a large amount of content, are looking to manage and share their content easily and prioritize security and compliance would highly benefit from implementing a full DAM solution.

Is it Time to Upgrade?

After reviewing the key features that both a full DAM and light DAM have to offer, it’s obvious why many organizations are choosing to upgrade to a full DAM solution. Companies that have outgrown their light DAM and need a better solution for storing, sharing, and managing their digital assets in a secure way—and require a solution that can grow with their needs—have moved on to full DAM systems and aren’t looking back.

MediaValet is a digital asset management solution that's trusted by hundreds of leading brands around the globe to help them make the most of their high-value digital assets. Ready to learn more about what MediaValet has to offer? Check out our DAM demo today!

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