MediaBeacon Blog

How Much Does A DAM Cost?

Most people understand that having a place to store your digital assets is beneficial, if not crucial. But then comes the fun part: shopping and getting the budget approved for DAM. You’ll likely find that there are DAMs that range in pricing, but what’s the difference? When is it worth spending more on a DAM?

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When is it appropriate to get a less expensive DAM?

Of course, the answer is different for everybody. To figure it out for your company, you’ll need to start by evaluating the reason you need a DAM, or the top problem it’s going to solve. From there, consider the teams who will use the DAM the most, or who will see the most impact when the DAM is fully implemented. Take a closer look at the top 3-5 use cases for the DAM and document the current process, the desired process with DAM, and the top functions you absolutely need the DAM to do within those processes.

If your use cases are simple, fairly common for your industry, and will not change, you can probably get away with a lower-priced DAM. However, if you have use cases that are unique to your company or team and you anticipate changes or growth in the company and processes, you’ll want to invest in a more robust DAM.

Most DAM companies, whether on the expensive or inexpensive side, will make the same or similar claims for functionality and benefits to their DAM. But a major difference between these two types of DAMs is the flexibility of the solution to move and evolve with your company. With the more expensive DAM options, the technology is more adept to enable your team to continually improve the efficiencies of your processes that involve digital assets.

To help understand if a simple (inexpensive) DAM or flexible (expensive) DAM is better for you, take a look at some of the major functions that a DAM enables: store, search, manage, and distribute.

How you store

How you store the assets in your DAM will have a direct on impact on whether or not your users will be able to find the assets they need when they need them. This table shows a few of the considerations for how you store your assets.


Simple DAM Flexible DAM
Metadata Basic metadata options, typically unable to edit metadata fields. Ability to use metadata specific to company terms and create or edit metadata fields and categories relevant to your company.
File Types Basic image file type storage. Advanced file type storage and management, including image, 3D, and video.
Folder Structure and Taxonomy Basic folder structure options. Advanced folder structures and taxonomy options.
Asset Grouping Group assets using folder structure. Can associate assets by assigning them to a folder, linking to other assets, creating and editing collections, and parent/child relationships.
Permissions Assign permissions based on simple grouping capabilities. Assign permissions to users, groups, and/or roles with specific permissions.

How you search

The ways users can search for assets in the DAM and get the results they need largely relies on how the assets are stored to make them accessible. The most common ways users will use a DAM to search for assets are outlined in the table below.


Simple DAM Flexible DAM
Keyword Search Ability to search based on keyword matches in title and metadata of assets. Ability to search based on keywords and return results based on keyword matches, tags, and dictionary and thesaurus terms.
Advanced Search Ability for simple Boolean searches based on simple metadata. Ability to use Boolean search with multiple operators and associated with advanced metadata defined for relevance to company.
Color Can search by color if color is included in metadata terms. Can search by color automatically and choose options for searches based on complementary colors.
Availability Little to no capability to search for assets based on expiration and availability. Ability to search for assets based on availability and expiration, as well as request access to assets for specific purposes.
Brand Portal Little to no capability for how you want to different users to be able to view and access content. Ability to design different portals to distinguish between multiple brands and outside users whose access should be limited, such as view/download only vs editing.

How you manage

A big differentiator for a more expensive DAM is the way it can help you manage your assets. The flexibility allows you to carry work-in-progress (WIP) assets through the content lifecycle by using functionality in the DAM and connections to systems outside the DAM. The table below describes a few of the ways you can manage your assets in a DAM.


Simple DAM Flexible DAM
Packaging Workflow Out of the box workflows without editing capability, if at all. Out of the box workflows and custom workflow solutions to build or edit processes specific to packaging.
Marketing Workflow Out of the box workflows without editing capability, if at all. Out of the box workflows and custom workflow solutions to build or edit processes specific to marketing.
Review, approve, project brief, versioning Little to no process management options and basic version tracking. Out of the box and custom workflows for project briefs, review and approval tasks, and version tracking.
Asset Editing in the DAM Little to no capability to manipulate the assets themselves. Can do basic image editing directly in the DAM, like filters, cropping, lighting, etc.
Asset Editing Integration No integration, must download out of DAM, edit, and then upload back into DAM. Can seamlessly retrieve assets from DAM through creative software and upload new versions back into DAM without leaving creative software.

How you distribute

Once your assets are ready to use, it’s time to distribute them. The main difference between a less expensive DAM and a more robust one is that you will need to download the asset out of the DAM and then distribute manually. With a more flexible DAM, you can integrate with your distribution systems so that it can automatically send assets to your channels directly from the DAM. The table below shows some of the main functionality requirements to compare for the distribution of your assets.

Simple DAM Flexible DAM
Download with permissions Limited control of who can download assets. Integration with Digital Rights Management solutions so only approved assets are downloaded.
External Distribution Download from the DAM and the distribute manually. Integrate with external systems like PIM, CRM, etc. so assets go where they need to go automatically.
External Sharing Can download and share or sometimes have to use 3rd party external sharing for big files. Can easily share links, email, or provide no-login access through portal for sales team, franchises, etc.
Internal Re-use Back in the DAM and available based on simple storing/search capability. Back in the DAM and available based on advanced storing/search capability.

There are just a few things to consider when determining how much budget you should ask for when pitching a DAM to your decision makers. You’ll also want to evaluate and document your technical needs, such as cloud vs on-prem, single sign-on compatibility, and other key systems in your technology stack.

If you’d like to no more about the ROI of DAM and how to get the budget for the DAM that’s right for the needs of your organization, we’ve got you covered! We’re partnering with Henry Stewart to talk all about the ROI of DAM in an upcoming webinar. For more info on how to build the case for DAM, sign up for our webinar with Henry Stewart on August 22nd at 11am CST.