DAM News 2018 Vendor Pricing Survey Released

In 2016, we published the DAM industry’s first ever vendor pricing survey and last year (in 2018) we repeated the exercise to get a more up-to-date picture of pricing trends.  Participants were sourced from the DAM Vendors Directory and invited to complete a questionnaire that covered numerous pricing scenarios.  We are pleased to announce that the 2018 survey has now been published.

The model of the 2018 survey is similar to the 2016 edition: vendors were invited to participate in the survey which comprised a series of questions that spanned five scenarios.  No one was paid to take part and no additional costs were asked of them.  The pricing data was fully anonymised (unless the vendor elected for full transparency).  All those that took part received a copy of the survey free of charge.

The five scenarios are as follows:

  • Graphics Studio DAM
  • Department DAM
  • Medium-Size Company DAM
  • Enterprise DAM
  • Typical Customer

A total of 13 submitted their pricing details.  For each of the above scenarios, vendors were asked to provide figures for a 12 month subscription of hosted and/or non-hosted solutions, depending upon the level of service they offered, plus the inclusion of any additional setup, licensing and support fees.

The participating vendors, excluding those that wished to remain anonymous, are as follows:

The survey itself has been compiled to represent the broad spectrum of DAM solutions currently available, and range from lower cost offerings to systems which target enterprise users (with a correspondingly higher cost).  The survey takes a deep dive into the facts and figures behind the trends that the industry has followed in the past couple of years.

In an attempt to make analysis and comparison easier to comprehend across such a wide price range, the survey asked vendors to provide pricing for an ‘average’ client, which should represent what they typically charge, this being the fifth scenario listed above.

To derive an overall year one average cost, the averages across all five scenarios for year one were taken into account, these are shown below alongside those from the 2016 survey.  The full report goes into far greater analytical detail with granular figures, calculations and charts for each of the five scenarios, and includes supporting materials, additional documentation and the original data in spreadsheet format.

Overall Average Cost 2018

1 year hosted: $51,999

1 year non-hosted: $71,746

Overall Average Cost 2016

1 year hosted: $37,846

1 year non-hosted: $71,930

The results suggest an overall increase in pricing for hosted, with a 37% rise, but non-hosted has not increased significantly.  The 2018 survey contains a number of different vendors, however, and with wider extremes at either end of the pricing scale (and considerably fewer non-hosted vendors compared with 2016) the figures are more likely to differ.

Much like the previous survey (and perhaps to an even greater degree) the reasons for not participating in the 2018 survey included fear, apathy and confusion about the survey’s purpose – generally affirming the furtive and guarded attitudes concerning pricing prevalent in DAM (and the huge disparity between the least and most expensive solutions).  The differentials between pricing are nearly all thousands of percentage points across every category, providing further evidence of how fragmented the DAM software market continues to be from a pricing perspective.

Unsurprisingly, the continued sensitivity and paranoia from larger vendors surrounding cost ultimately leads to confusion amongst potential clients, and further incubates the suspicion that they are being charged sizeable premiums for limited value other than the perceived enterprise credentials of the supplier.  This phenomenon is clearly not exclusive to the DAM sector, yet the added reluctance to provide any figures (even with the assurance of total anonymity) is frustrating for diligent and cost-conscious end-users who are need to weigh the value offered against the percentage of their budget they need to allocate for each product option.

The survey also exposes and dissects the ambiguity surrounding ‘setup’ costs and exactly what they cover (and more critically for the client, what they do not).  From the end-user’s perspective, there are no DAM solutions that are genuinely ready to go ‘out-of-the-box’, even if a vendor claims their software is easy to deploy and use.  There are still numerous tasks that will need to be performed prior to going live, including the migration of assets from legacy systems, the preparation of metadata schemas, integration with third-party APIs, and user training and adoption programmes to name just a few.  The exclusion of any of these essentials will undoubtedly incur additional costs, either as a result of the need to hire professional services assistance or paying the vendor for the extra items.

A number of conclusions can be drawn from the 2018 survey:

  • There is still a deep-seated reluctance and sensitivity surrounding pricing among larger vendors, especially and many smaller or medium-sized ones also.
  • The gap between the least and most expensive solutions has got even wider.
  • Non-hosted solutions have continued to decline in popularity, most likely due to the prominence of mature cloud-based solutions and faster internet connectivity.
  • Hosted solutions have increased in both popularity and overall price, while non-hosted prices have remained static.
  • DAM technology has become more homogenised across vendors, thus making the price differences harder to quantify.  This suggests that cost has more to do with marketing strategy and targeting a specific type of user than the features or services provided

As the scope of the survey includes the in-depth appraisal of whether vendors are providing value for money, the continued unwillingness of vendors to provide figures should raise a warning flag for DAM buyers, who will need to judiciously question and dispassionately compare vendors, especially when considering high-ticket items like licence fees and proprietary arrangements across systems with very similar feature sets.

A free excerpt of the report is available and the full edition can be purchased (at a reduced price until 31st March 2019) from our DAM whitepapers site using the link below:


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