Can your CMS double as a DAM solution?

digital asset management vs content management

Adding another technology to your marketing stack is a big decision. The last thing you want to do is bring on another system with redundant capabilities. So, of course, if you can make one system work for multiple business needs, you should. But, what about your content management system (CMS)? You’re likely already paying for a system like WordPress, TYPO3, Drupal, or CoreMedia to manage your website. Can your CMS also double as a digital asset management (DAM) solution?

The short answer: Not really.

In the most basic sense, a DAM system and a CMS are both used to manage digital content. But, a DAM system does not replace a CMS, and a CMS does not replace a DAM system.

The primary purpose of a CMS is to help people publish, change, and remove content from their website without the expertise of a web developer. As such, a CMS has a media library so you can upload the videos, images, and documents that you want to publish to your website. At the end of the day, your CMS media library is a technology that facilitates publishing. It is not a  full-spectrum solution for managing your content.

On the flip side, a DAM system can be used to publish content to your website but cannot replace the website management capabilities of a CMS. You can publish website content from your DAM system using embed codes or search for assets in your DAM system through your CMS interface if you integrate the two technologies. But, a DAM system cannot manage your website pages or posts like a CMS can.

Think about it like this: A DAM system is a media library with turbojets. It is a central content hub that you can use to store, organize, manage, and distribute your digital assets to other people and technologies that rely on them. Not to be mistaken with a file-sharing tool like Dropbox or Google Drive, a DAM system addresses the entire lifecycle of your content well beyond your website, storage, and collaboration needs.

Now, if you only have a handful of digital assets and you only use them on your website, you could use your CMS media library as your content hub. But, the second you extend your use beyond your website or to multiple people, you’ll run into issues. To name a few, here are some challenges with using your CMS media library as your go-to content hub:

1. Searchability

Both a CMS and DAM system have search capabilities. In a CMS, you can apply filters or use the search box to narrow down options by media type, date, or file name. Depending on the system, you can also organize and search for your digital assets by predefined categories. Capabilities are basic, so you’ll likely rely on the thumbnail previews.

One benefit of a DAM system is its advanced search capabilities. A predefined categorical structure known as taxonomy keeps your digital assets organized. And, metadata, or details about your assets like keywords and descriptions, allows for a search experience much like you’d find on Google. On top of this, you’re not limited to keyword search; you can also filter by category, navigate instantly to your most popular assets, or even search within the text of PDF and Microsoft Office documents.

2. File formats and sizes

How often do you find an image or video you need, but it’s not the right file format or size? A DAM system intercepts this pain point, allowing you to automate file conversions upon download. You simply preset the types of conversions you and your team require, and the DAM system takes care of the rest. No more asking your design team to convert file after file!

A CMS, on the other hand, does not automatically convert files for you. You need to manually create and upload all of the various sizes and file types you need. If you need to do minor edits, such as rotate, flip, resize, or crop your static media, you can handle that in the system, but it is still, unfortunately, a manual task.

3. Access and distribution

A CMS is great for publishing and managing content on your website. But, if you need to extend your digital assets beyond your site, it’s a cumbersome process. Let’s say you need to share your brand assets with an outside vendor. You’ll need to drag each individual asset to your desktop, email, or file sharing tool. Or, if you want to enable bulk exports or integrate directly with your file sharing tool, you’ll need to install yet another plugin which can slow down your site (especially with all the other plugins you’ll need along the way).

With a DAM system, you can easily download or share your digital assets with teammates, external partners, and other technology systems. Plus, a DAM system is a single source of truth. So, rather than sifting through outdated or expired assets that are still hanging out in your CMS, you’ll always know which version you should use. If you take advantage of DAM system embed and share codes, your web content will also automatically update based on what you have in your DAM system.

4. Analytics

Speaking of embed codes, if you embed content from your DAM system onto your website, your DAM system can provide powerful analytics about how your content is performing. When using embed codes, you can see where your assets are published, how many views your videos are getting, how many downloads a white paper receives, and more. Some DAM systems offer advanced analytics that can show you if people finished watching your video and, if they didn’t, what time they dropped off. These are analytics that a CMS cannot provide. Analytics are extremely important to see how your content is performing and can provide insights into how to plan future content.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

A CMS and DAM system are the perfect pair. A CMS makes publishing valuable content to your website easy, while a DAM system provides the powerful, multi-faceted hub your content deserves. If you decide that a DAM system is right for you and your organization, consider integrating it with your CMS. By connecting the two, you’ll essentially replace the media library in your CMS with your DAM system. The result: immediate access to only the most recent and approved digital assets, plus the oversight your brand demands.


If you need additional guidance, our knowledgeable team is here. We are happy to answer your questions or provide more information that will help you manage your digital content more efficiently and effectively. Contact our team today!

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