Google Drive allows individuals and teams to store, organize, and share files securely and easily from their computer or mobile device. It also has built-in protection against malware and spyware and integrates with Google suite and third-party applications which your team may already be familiar with.
Does this mean Google Drive is the ideal platform to store all your assets and collaborate with your team seamlessly, or is a full-fledged digital asset management (DAM) solution a better choice?
We'll answer these questions in this article so you can choose the best option to store your digital assets securely.
Let’s start by looking at what a DAM system is.
What is digital asset management?
Before we get into what digital asset management is, let’s look at a broad definition of digital assets.
Digital assets refer to any digital file owned by an individual or an organization. Several intelligent DAM platforms have digital assets searchable via metadata and include access and usage rights. The most common types of digital assets include:
Digital asset management (DAM) is the systematic approach or software solutions that organizations use to store, retrieve, index, organize, and share digital assets online.
Google Drive vs. DAM: Similarities
Here are some similarities between Google Drive and DAM solutions:
- Cloud-based storage: Google Drive and DAM solutions store digital assets in the cloud, enabling your team to access files from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Integration with other tools: It's possible to integrate Google Drive and digital asset management solutions with other tools and platforms, making it easier to manage files and assets within the context of a larger workflow.
- Security: Both solutions have robust security measures to protect data, including encryption, access control, and user authentication.
The similarities end there. Next, let's look at some key differences between both tools.
Google Drive vs. DAM: Key differences
Although Google Drive was created to store and manage your media files, it wasn't specifically designed for creative and marketing teams.
So, if you're creating and managing hundreds and thousands of assets, DAM solutions are a more professional and efficient option.
Here are some key differences between Google Drive and DAM solutions.
As mentioned earlier, Google Drive only has basic functionality and doesn't have any customization options available. Plus, it displays assets in a grid view, and all files and file formats look similar.
But marketing and creative teams need a platform that clearly distinguishes images, catalogs, brand guidelines, videos, and other files. A DAM platform does this well. It showcases the media as an image or video within the platform and allows you to ensure brand consistency through brand guidelines. Some platforms such as Artwork Flow also provide white labeling which allows brands to customize the platform to reflect the look and feel of their brand for a more personalized experience.
Google Drive stands out for its robust file-sharing capabilities. It allows users to control access through options like view-only, commenting, and editing.
Additionally, it offers the convenience of creating shareable links for files. However, as the volume and size of files increase, this may not be the most efficient solution, especially for larger media files like videos and high-resolution presentations.
But the catch is that you’ll have to manually add access permission for each file you want to share if they’re not in the same folder.
This becomes a cumbersome process and in such cases, a Digital Asset Management system is the better option.
A DAM system allows for an organized view of your files and the individuals who have access to them. You can establish policies for how assets should be utilized, provide instructions for accompanying copies, and limit access to outdated files with ease.
It also creates a password-protected system to ensure that your assets are available only to those who require them. This ability to set or modify access makes it easy to keep everything up-to-date and streamlines collaboration both within your organization and with external partners.
For instance, Artwork Flow is working on the creation of links that expire in 30 days so your team or stakeholders have access to an asset only for a limited period.
While Google Drive offers robust search capabilities, it falls short when compared to the advanced search options provided by leading Digital Asset Management systems.
A DAM system allows you to attach tags, metadata, and keywords (even if they are misspelled) to your files, making it easier to locate them quickly and effectively. Here are some smart tools that DAMs provide:
- Filter: Narrows down assets based on tags, custom fields, and relevant metadata.
- Auto-tagging: Uses AI to extract information from images and metadata and add accurate tags.
- Thumbnailing: Creates preview images automatically upon asset upload.
- Suggested search: Provides a list of related searches based on your and your team's history.
Up-to-date asset library
With Google Drive, it falls on the users to locate and remove outdated versions of documents and duplicated files, either manually or with the help of a third-party tool. In contrast, a Digital Asset Management system helps maintain an organized and up-to-date asset library.
For instance, Artwork Flow will only display the latest asset version, thanks to version control. This not only prevents the use of outdated brand assets but also reduces clutter and confusion, making it easier for teams to find what they need and preventing the waste of resources from redoing lost assets, which is a common issue affecting many marketers and creatives.
Here are two key features of DAM tools that help achieve these results:
- Duplicate asset detection: This feature alerts you when the same asset is uploaded more than once and even archives it automatically, so you can rest assured that there will be no duplicate files in your library.
- Asset expiration: This feature periodically checks the availability status of all assets in the organization, and updates it hourly, which affects the visibility of assets. When an asset becomes expired or unpublished, it will display the asset’s unapproved version and keep users informed of its current status.
- Version control: Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools like Artwork Flow not only detect duplicate files but also record all updates made to each file along with the details of the person who made the changes and when. This helps users quickly verify that they are using the latest and on-brand versions of files.
There are two ways to access asset analytics in Google Drive. You can check out the activity dashboard to see all the file-related actions such as opening and editing. The second method is to view individual files and check who made the edits and when they were made.
Individual file-level analytics also provide information about viewer trends, comment trends, and sharing history. However, it is not possible to track downloaded files.
A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system comes in handy in this case. It’s an effective tool for monitoring content and ensuring its proper utilization. With a DAM, users can access a range of analytics to track the performance of their assets, including:
- Where your team is publishing or engaging with assets online
- How viewers are reacting to the asset and interacting with it
- Search terms that your team uses within the DAM
- Asset views
- Asset shares
- Asset downloads
This information allows you to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts and gain a deeper understanding of how teams utilize digital files.
It also provides insight into which types of collateral are most popular with target audiences and helps your team to strategically utilize assets. Here’s a table that explains the differences between both systems:
The final verdict: Which tool is best for you?
Google Drive is no doubt a popular and free cloud storage service. It allows you to store, retrieve and share files easily with your teams and integrates with other tools like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.
However, it can’t double as a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system as it only has basic asset management and sharing features. This is why DAM solutions are an ideal alternative to Google Drive. It’s great for companies that:
- Have many digital files with no clear labeling and storage system.
- Need to share different assets to multiple online platforms.
- Want to grant access to multiple team members and external partners.
- Aim to maintain brand consistency while publishing content online.
- Need to securely store assets with sensitive information.
- Want to track asset usage and make informed decisions for future asset creation.
Moreover, DAM systems like Artwork Flow provide a dedicated development team, customer service team, and company support for asset management apart from offering features that help you store and share assets with internal and external stakeholders in a streamlined manner.
Here’s what Amita J., a small business owner, says about Artwork Flow’s asset management features and customer support in this G2 review:
“The asset library and proofing modules are used the most by my team, and we find great value in them.
The AI part of this product is another personal favorite - the intelligent search and smart tagging features have made my day-to-day so much better and really cut down on the sheer hours I used to put in looking for images.
Also, the initial training process and quick customer support were of great help.”
If you want to discover how Artwork Flow can save you countless hours spent searching for assets, book a free demo today.