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Still using Google Drive? It’s time for a digital asset management platform.

by Stephanie Erbesfield  |  February 16, 2023

10 min. read
A woman comparing cloud file storage with a comprehensive digital asset management system.

How we work has changed since 2020, with many of us working in fully remote or hybrid workplaces. The only way to make sure your files are safe where your teammates can find them is to save them to the cloud – in this case, Google Drive. You’re organized, but you still find that important assets you and your team need go missing.

All too often, you’re looking for an asset, and no matter what search term you use, the most recent file never seems to appear. This constant search and rescue mission for important marketing assets sucks up so much time. And even if you find it, you often must request permission to view or edit, which can be an even longer wait if your teammate is in a different time zone or worse, out of the office.

It’s time to say goodbye to Google Drive

Google Drive is a file storage system that may be acceptable for managing your personal assets. But Google Drive is missing a range of features only found with a digital asset management (DAM) solution. And when comparing the two, in a DAM vs. Google Drive assessment, you’ll find that a DAM solution has all the features you wish Google Drive had, from better collaboration to searchability and beyond. It’s highly customizable and gives your content teams what nearly half of the respondents to our 2023 State of Digital Content Survey said would improve their content production: organization.

The features that a DAM platform offers will leave you asking where it’s been your whole career. Let’s look at how these two different solutions, one tailored to your team (like a DAM platform) and one that isn’t compared head-to-head -it’s time to explore DAM vs. Google Drive.

An image showing how a cloud service can only deliver files, while a DAM has more functionality such as personal comments, sharing and style guides.

DAM vs. Google Drive: Key Differences

While Google Drive may have offered a good jumping-off point for file storage in the past, your team needs something made and optimized to fit their specific needs. Google Drive leaves a lot to be desired, and DAM users are nearly 3x more likely to have more efficient workflows compared to those who use other content storage tools. And not to mention, they’re also 3x more likely than others to have seen a significant increase in content ROI in the last year (you can read all about it in the 2023 State of Digital Content Survey). Moving to a DAM solution is a tiny switch that significantly changes your efficiency and ROI. What are you waiting for? Let’s not waste any more time! DAM vs. Google Drive – here are the key differences that will impact your team:

1. DAM good organization

You’re wasting time hunting through Google Drive instead of using a DAM as a single source of truth for your files and assets. A DAM does so much more than just folders and subfolders. Organization with a DAM means using artificial intelligence to your benefit. Let the DAM automatically add labels, keywords, and tags to your digital assets as you upload them, making them automatically searchable. Later, you can add additional tags with as little or as much context as you like, and all this metadata is available for you to search.

2. Improved searchability tailored to your needs

The search functionality of Google Drive isn’t sufficient for any organization as it’s missing that metadata component. Metadata sets a DAM apart, offering a comprehensive search functionality, unlike anything you’ve seen with Google Drive. With a DAM like Canto, you can search by categories, metadata, descriptions, and even old comments. Having a DAM opens more ways to search and can help save a lot of time when searching – especially if you’re not too sure of the name or file type but you know what campaign the content is from or what colors or images the designer picked.

3. Collaboration under your control

Collaboration allows you to use your DAM solution as an all-in-one location for everything from uploads to approvals to third-party content. With a DAM platform, everything is in one location. Gone are the days of adding comments and waiting for an approval email. With a DAM solution, you can collaborate more effectively by setting up those permissions and workflows from the get-go, keeping your team in sync.

4. User roles: a collaborator’s best friend

A significant yet often forgotten difference is the ability to set user roles – ensuring that content is shared when it’s ready and only to those who need it. Most DAM platforms have a system that gives the power of the software to the admin users of the DAM, decreasing the reliance on IT to make changes. User roles go hand in hand with collaboration, as discussed above. These assignable roles give you the safety of knowing only those who need access have access. And they allow you to provide external agencies with a simple way to upload their assets and collaborate with the internal team directly in the DAM as opposed to via email.

5. It’s all about the branding

Keeping your brand consistent across all your platforms – from in-person events to social media to sales presentations – can be difficult when your resources are spread out across several folders in Google Drive or saved locally. Additionally, if your users don’t have the correct permissions on Google Drive, they may not be able to access the files immediately. With a DAM solution, you can quickly give and revoke access to files and even automatically update an existing file with a new one – making sure that the latest version of that asset is available to everyone who needs it and in a familiar place.

Not only that, but DAMs offer white labeling, allowing you to create an on-brand solution that makes your team feel like they’ve never left your website. It takes your brand consistency a step further, ensuring that it’s top of mind for external or client-facing assets but that it’s always available for the internal organization.

6. Detailed asset reports: information you never knew you needed until now

Perhaps something you don’t think about very often when it comes to your file storage system is reporting. A basic file storage system like Google Drive doesn’t offer much more than user file activity, which can be cumbersome to access. This feature is only available with some editions of Google Drive (just the paid ones!). If you’re using Google Drive agnostic from G Suite, you may not even be able to access those logs.

But with a DAM, you can get an in-depth look to see user logins, file storage, and even what files are being shared or downloaded. This sort of reporting gives you a peek into what files are used most often and by what teams.

You can also see your metadata activity, getting insight into the top keywords and, perhaps most importantly – the top search terms.

7. And we can’t forget the visuals!

Google Drive can be hard to work with when you work with more visual mediums. Whether it’s eBooks, white papers, infographics, or photography from the latest photoshoot, you should be able to see what you have right in front of you. Google Drive doesn’t offer the visuals needed for creative and marketing teams.

However, a digital asset management platform offers a highly visual system right off the bat. Everything from folders to individual documents, appears as an image from that asset, rather than just the name of the file. You’re able to see the branding, the colors, the graphics, and the title of the document right from the start. It may help you grab the right document the first time, rather than one that may use outdated branding or be in a different language – just because you’re about to see more than the title without even clicking to view.

Image showing how different team members collaborate and provide assets with a DAM being the centerpiece for their creative workflow.

What a DAM can do for your team

Looking at a DAM platform, you may think it’s expensive and a solution that enterprise companies need, not a small to medium-sized business with a small or medium-sized team. That’s simply not true. Smaller teams can benefit even more from a DAM solution.

ROI + time saving

For smaller teams, production must always be streamlined, and there’s no time to wait. And most DAMs are priced with smaller teams in mind – these solutions are not only valuable, but the return on investment is very tangible. As mentioned earlier, DAM users are 3x more likely than others to have seen a significant increase in content ROI in the last year.


Regardless of your team size, we know you wear many hats. Your day is likely jam-packed with everything from following up with external agencies to creating content (whether that’s a blog post, ad banner, or both). You can’t waste time searching for the assets needed to create or execute content programs. With a DAM, your team can now have one organized location as a single source of truth for all your assets – even your brand guidelines! No more hunting around for those lost assets.


And with numerous integrations, using a DAM as your single source of truth streamlines your processes from creative to productivity tools. There is an integration for almost every organization or need. You can access your DAM right from those tools without having to go from one system to another while looking for your files.


Additionally, a DAM gives you greater flexibility to work with internal and external teams worldwide. If your team can connect to the internet, you’ll be able to access everything a DAM solution offers. This gives you a chance to improve collaboration by having reviews and approvals in your DAM software instead of going back and forth with emails (where someone inevitably ends up asking for a change to an older version than the current version you’re working from). A digital asset management solution streamlines all your workflows and lets your team take a breath, mainly because they never have to worry about lost assets again.

The future of your team with a DAM

Technology is ever-evolving, and so is your team and your content. We’re always looking for ways to provide better content for our customers and a way for us to produce that content quickly without losing quality. In the DAM vs. Google Drive conversation, you can look for a DAM solution to grow with you and your ever-changing goals in a way that a basic file storage system like Google Drive could never.

The future of DAM systems means greater integration with more systems, increased security and compliance, and greater scalability and flexibility. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we know that DAM solutions are focused on the future. When you select a DAM system, you’ll get innovation, automation, and growth. A DAM is the core of your creative and marketing teams and should grow and innovate with your team.

Canto is the best-in-class DAM solution

And if you’re looking toward the future, look no further than Canto. Canto is the global leader in digital asset management software, and as the best-in-class solution, we’re trusted by more than 2,500 brands internationally to manage their digital assets. Today, Canto helps teams for some of the most iconic and innovative brands bring efficiency to their creative and content workflows.

Canto empowers brands, regardless of size, to take control of their digital assets, increase collaboration, scale their content marketing, and provide their teams with better organization. Regardless of the future, Canto is there to help organizations like yours move from clunky, inefficient technology to streamlined and smooth workflows.

To learn more about how Canto can help your organization move on from basic file storage to an organized, customized DAM, sign up for a demo today.