CMS vs. DAM: Key Differences & Benefits Blog Feature

By: Le'Mina McNair on August 29th, 2022

CMS vs. DAM: Key Differences & Benefits

technology based marketing solutions | Digital Asset Management (DAM)

It can be difficult to decide whether your organization needs a Content Management System (CMS) or a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system because many of them share similar features, such as the ability to collaborate on content and access specific documents. Despite their similarities, they are two distinct pieces of technology. Making the decision to choose one over the other, or more often the decision to build a specific integration of the two, can be a difficult task.

Some of these similarities are difficult to grasp at first glance, leaving organizations and creative leaders asking questions like:

  • What are the differences?
  • Do I need one or the other?
  • Do I need both?
  • How can I determine which is a better investment for me?

Let’s closely define the similarities and differences between CMSs and DAMs, and explore how to determine which system or combination of the two is right for your organization.

DAM vs. CMS: What’s the Difference?

A CMS is responsible for managing content on your website, while a DAM system manages content for your whole organization, allowing for distribution across multiple channels. DAM systems can publish and manage content on your website, too (and you can definitely get one that does), but that’s not their primary function.

To put it simply:

  • DAM: Digital asset management is comprehensive software that safely stores, organizes, and shares digital media files like photos or videos.
  • CMS: A content management system is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website, generally without the need for too much computing knowledge.

And here are the two with their respective features highlighted; note that neither one is “superior” or does more than the other. The solution (or combination of solutions) that you ultimately choose will be less based on “CMS vs. DAM” and more on the specific features your organization needs.



  • Searchable content library
  • Organization of content in one system
  • User permissioning to access control
  • Secure, self-serve access
  • Ability to store, publish, and edit website content 
  • Publishing and distribution of up-to-date assets
  • Web page builder or page templates
  • Ability to transform and reuse content
  • Plugins to evaluate factors like SEO and readability
  • Tools to monitor content efficiency
  • Control over which users can access which pages of your website
  • Content governance that spans your organization, controlling who has access to what. 


When to Use CMS

For some teams, the features available in a CMS platform may be more than enough to support their day-to-day needs. Content management systems are best for organizations and creative teams who need:   

  • Agnostic file formatting: Teams that operate or share among multiple file processors. Everyone has a personal favorite application to work in. A CMS allows each member of your team to use theirs. 
  • Effective repurposing of content: Content templates and duplication features allow for quick movement and repurposing of content. Evergreen content that remains the same over long periods of time can be made more accessible by using a CMS.
  • Streamlined publishing across sites: CMS organizes content and allows for streamlined publishing across multiple sites without mistakes. Larger organizations often have several different web pages, and it’s critical that they all reflect the same message. CMS also makes it easy to see how content is performing across different sites.

When to Use DAM

Digital asset management systems are best for organizations and creative teams who need:    

  • Advanced search: Large amounts of content, files, and data can be stored and accessible through a highly advanced search feature. The more your business grows, the more content you have to make. A DAM can make it easy for your team to navigate to what they need when they need it.
  • Variable permissions: Be exact about file permissions to allow only designated access. In the world of remote work in particular, the ability to limit access is a vital security feature.
  • Asset versions: Rather than replacing an asset with its successor, DAMs allow organizations to keep endless version histories of files so that nothing is ever lost. This can be extremely helpful when you have several people working on the same file to ensure that an accidental deletion doesn’t result in lost hours of work. 

When to Use CMS + DAM

Using CMS and DAM solutions together can be beneficial for teams with requirements that span across both tools. If you want to store files with endless version histories, access them in an advanced search, edit and publish content across multiple platforms, and check that content for efficiency, a CMS + DAM integration might be necessary for your team. However, not all CMS and DAMs play nicely together, which is where experts come in; they can help you determine the best CMS and DAM integration for your team.

Get in touch with the experts at IO Integration to find out what’s best for your organization’s needs.