Blog header image: What's the Difference Between DAM, PIM, and MRM systems? article.
Digital Asset Management
Brand Management

What's the Difference Between DAM, PIM, and MRM systems?

July 28, 2020 8 minute read
Let’s define each of these technologies and explore which ones are right for you. DAM, PIM, and MRM checklist included.
Blog header image: What's the Difference Between DAM, PIM, and MRM systems? article.
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Digital Asset Management

If you think back ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago, it’s hard to fathom how marketers got anything done without the help of the technologies we have today. But it happened. And for some of us, it felt like a simpler time. There were fewer channels to worry about. There wasn’t such an always-on mentality. And, there certainly weren’t a trillion technology acronyms to decipher. I mean, come on. From CMS to CRM, DMP, DAM, MRM, PIM, and …you get the picture — it’s all a bit overwhelming.

But, with technology comes benefits like efficiency, brand safety, and scale. It seems there’s a solution to help you with every marketing challenge out there. Maybe it is worth stomaching a few acronyms if they (or rather what they stand for) make our jobs as marketers easier. So if you can look past the acronym overload for a moment, we’ll peel back the layers of three important, often misunderstood technologies — DAM, PIM and MRM.

What is a DAM system?

A Digital asset management (DAM) system is a technology solution that allows you to manage, organize, and distribute your digital assets from a central hub. 

It helps you connect your digital assets (like videos, images, photos, documents, and audio clips) with your teams and partners so you can all deliver meaningful, measurable customer experiences. To qualify as a true DAM solution, it must meet 10 core characteristics. These features address different stages of the content lifecycle and its management. They range from digital asset ingestion to security, storage, workflow, search, publishing, and more.

Let’s break this down further. While some systems are more robust than others, all DAM systems more or less help you:

  • Store: House your digital assets in a secure, centralized location. Through robust search capabilities, users can quickly and easily find what they need. No more digging through messy shared drives or worrying that you’re using outdated or expired content.
  • Manage: From creation to archive, manage the entire lifecycle of your content. Improve workflows, streamline approvals, and empower users to convert file formats on the fly rather than relying on designers. Protect your brand from reputation and legal damage with permissions, copyright safeguards, and version-control capabilities.
  • Distribute: Share content with partners and collaborators via share links and portals. Publish your content to digital channels via embed codes that automatically update content based on the master file stored in your system.
  • Measure: Understand who uses your content, as well as when, where, and how. Identify the most effective digital assets so you can redirect budgets and resources toward the creation of high-ROI content. Repurpose, retire, update, or replicate efforts that help you achieve your business goals.

What is a PIM system?

A Product information management (PIM) system is a technology solution that allows you to collect, manage, and enrich your product information, create a single view of product data, and distribute it to your sales and e-commerce channels.

It helps you keep an accurate, dynamic record of product information, so you quickly and easily get your products to market. But beyond this, it ensures you deliver optimal customer experiences by supplying accurate, up-to-date, and helpful information that drives sales.

Just like with DAM software, solutions vary from vendor to vendor. However, most PIM systems help you:

  • Collect: Easily gather product-related information (like SKUs, stock information, product copy, supplier details, specs, delivery options, product images, videos, and audio files) from various suppliers, sources, and data providers. This is similar to DAM functionality, however, it is limited to product-related assets.
  • Enrich: Enhance product descriptions, organize product catalogs, and translate information into multiple languages. Update SKUs in real time to ensure that your sales channels  — marketplaces, distributors, retailers, and wholesalers — have access to comprehensive, accurate product information. And take advantage of roles, rules, workflow, and collaboration capabilities to improve your data quality and time to market.
  • Distribute: Easily share up-to-date product catalogs with multiple partners and channels, while customizing exports with only the product attributes they want.

What is an MRM system?

A marketing resource management (MRM) system is a technology solution that provides you with a way to efficiently manage the backend operations, people, and processes that power your marketing programs and campaigns.

An MRM system shines when it comes to day-to-day operations by helping you manage workflows, as well as plan, track, and allocate marketing resources more efficiently. Ultimately, it frees up your time internally so you can focus on the next big initiative and ensures you direct your energy toward the right efforts.

MRM systems address the following operational processes within a marketing organization:

  • Planning: Receive a comprehensive overview of all marketing activities so you can allocate budgets and resources efficiently. Reference historical data to position yourself for success and meet your campaign or project goals.
  • Workflows: Manage and align the people and processes needed to take an initiative from concept to reality. Organize processes, track progress, view upcoming activities, and keep approvals, costs, and deliverables on track.
  • Collaboration: Centralize content, information, and processes so everyone involved in a project — from freelancers to agencies, project managers, designers, and more — can easily work together. While MRM systems can help you centralize digital assets, you typically only use this feature for project-related assets (not your entire digital asset library).
  • Measurement: Understand and optimize the ROI of your marketing efforts. Highlight and fix workflow bottlenecks, evaluate campaign performance, and identify areas to cut or move the budget.

Is a DAM, PIM, or MRM system right for you?

Determining if you need a DAM, PIM, or MRM system depends on the unique goals, needs, and priorities of your organization. And, it’s not always a one-or-the-other situation. Some organizations benefit from having all three! Just make sure to talk to your vendors about their integration capabilities. Most DAM vendors offer integrations with PIM and MRM systems so you can sync your assets, data, and processes across solutions. And some vendors offer the solution benefits of all three.

So, which systems are right for you? If you find yourself nodding your head “yes” to any or all of the below checklists, it’s a good indication that you’re RTRSO — ready to research system options. Sorry, we couldn’t resist creating another acronym of our own!

Signs you need a DAM system

  • You have a large volume of digital assets
  • Multiple people, teams, and partners need frequent access to your digital assets
  • Nobody can find files scattered across shared drives, desktops, and file-sharing systems
  • Multiple people collaborate and are involved in reviewing or approving creative assets
  • Your creative team spends too much time on file conversions
  • Your assets have restricted or regional-specific use cases
  • Your assets require special instructions (such as brand or legal guidelines)
  • You need to protect your brand and build a strong brand presence across multiple channels
  • You use assets across other systems (like marketing automation, customer relationship management, sales enablement tools, etc.)

For more indications that it’s time for a DAM system, check out our article, Five Telltale Signs That You Need a DAM System.

Signs you need a PIM system

  • You have a large volume of product SKUs to manage
  • Your product catalog is complex and changes frequently
  • You need to collect and unify product information from various suppliers, sources, and data providers
  • You need to identify and fix inconsistent product data
  • You have multiple sales and marketing channels that rely on robust, up-to-date product data
  • Time to market is critical
  • Your product-management processes are inefficient and manual
  • You provide or want to provide your customers and online shoppers with a lot of valuable product information
  • You use catalog management software, but it does not meet all of your needs

Signs you need an MRM system

  • You have a large volume of marketing campaigns and projects to manage
  • You need a big-picture view of all your marketing efforts
  • You’re focused on costs and improving the ROI of your marketing efforts
  • Your current operational processes are inefficient and create workflow bottlenecks
  • You have dispersed marketing teams that need to collaborate
  • You need to manage and optimize project budgets and expenditures
  • You need safeguards to ensure that marketing content is brand compliant and consistent
  • You need to improve communication between teams and launch campaigns and initiatives faster
  • You spend more time justifying your marketing efforts, than planning and executing on strategies

Next steps

If these checklists make you realize you’re ready to research system options (RTRSO), our DAM Evaluation Toolkit can help you begin the research and evaluation process. And if you’re looking for more of a human touch, request a live demo of our combined DAM and PIM solution, Acquia DAM (Widen). We’ll help review your needs and determine which system(s) are best for your organization.


Note: This article was originally published on

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