Air vs Canto: A comparison

Air vs Canto: A Comparison

July 28, 2021 · 8 min read

Are you researching different digital asset management solutions? By now, there’s enough choices to make the decision a little bit difficult. Do you stick with well-known classics like Dropbox and Google Drive? Maybe Brandfolder and Bynder have caught your eye. This article compares Canto, a platform that’s existed in different iterations since the mid 90s, and Air, a modern platform launched just a couple of years ago.


Digital asset management

What is digital asset management (DAM)? If you’ve never heard the term and need a primer, we’ve compiled a thorough guide. DAMs are a specific category of the Software as a Service (SaaS) market, fulfilling content management and organizational needs. They’re used by marketers, designers, creatives, and other stakeholders. Those people use DAMs for brand management, creative automation, and even as lightweight presentation tools. On the most basic level, a DAM provides you with a central location to store and utilize your digital assets. 

What are digital assets? Images, PDFs, documents, decks, videos, and logos — any digital file you use to conduct your business, especially for marketing purposes, is a digital asset. Any modern company producing content for the web and social media quickly accumulates a staggering amount of digital assets, which is why digital asset management platforms exist.

While most DAMs have the same baseline features around storage, search, and sharing, each one has its own specific factors that make it stand out. Read on to learn what differentiates Air and Canto.


Value

Air

No DAM matches Air when it comes to scalability of pricing. Anyone can start using Air for free with 5 GB of storage. As soon as your business grows and needs more storage, you can simply upgrade to the Plus plan, which provides 200 GB for $12 per user, per month. If that’s not enough, the Pro plan provides 2,000 GB for $30 per user, per month.

Air pricing tiers (monthly)

Source

If you’re part of a large organization managing terabytes of digital assets, reach out to Air’s sales team to discuss a custom Enterprise deal. Get as much storage as you need, custom tools and integrations, you name it.

Air is for everyone. Organizations of all sizes, across all industries, use Air to stay organized and get work done faster. If you work with digital assets (especially visual assets), you’ll find that Air is the solution to your problems.

Canto

Canto does not have readily available pricing information. Small businesses looking for a self-serve platform to get started with right away would do well to turn to Air. However, Canto does offer a free trial. It’s certainly worth trying both platforms to see which better suits your needs. If it turns out Canto isn’t the one, the team at Air can always sync and migrate your assets.


Features

Air

While Air is only a few years old, the platform offers all the features and functionality almost every user could need. These features include: storage; smart search (search by metadata!); a visually-oriented interface; commenting tools; asset versioning; share links; public boards; custom fields; image-recognition and color-recognition smart tagging; custom user roles; and more. The list goes on and is constantly growing!

Air pricing and essential features

View Air’s full list of features here. If you love everything about the platform, but it's missing one very specific feature that you absolutely need, just reach out to the sales team. Air is always more than happy to work with clients to develop custom features and integrations.

Canto

As an asset management platform that’s been around in various forms for over two decades, Canto has all the features you’d expect. Similar to Air, you get: storage; a visual interface; smart search; share links; commenting tools; public portals (their version of Air’s public boards); custom user roles; and more.

Both platforms are fairly equal in terms of features and functionality. It’s possible that one might have a hyper-specific feature that the other doesn’t, but the majority of users will find their most-needed features in either product.


User experience

Air

One of Air’s greatest strengths is how fresh it is. Launched at the beginning of 2020, Air was made to meet the needs of modern work. Chief among those needs is accessibility and usability. Think about tools like Notion and Slack, which have made, respectively, documentation and office communication friendly, enjoyable, and accessible for everyone. These are Air’s peers — Slack Ventures is even an investor. Air, like these other tools, is also optimized for remote work, which seems to be here to stay.

Demonstrating Air's search capabilities

While some DAM solutions are difficult and confusing to navigate, Air is intuitive and easy. For example: Since the platform scans all uploaded assets for colors and content, if you need to find a photograph of someone wearing a red shirt, you can simply search “red shirt.” You will immediately find every instance of that content in your workspace.

It’s worth mentioning once again that Air allows you to start for free and scale up your plan as you go. Other legacy platforms require you to go from no plan, or a free trial, directly to a hundreds-of-dollars-a-month commitment.

Older tools weren’t built for the current moment. Even though the pandemic is ending and workers are going back to the office, the landscape of modern work is forever changed. Video meetings aren’t going anywhere — store them in Air. Slack isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Air. 

Canto

With a visual interface and easy search capabilities, Canto offers an accessible user experience. Because both platforms share so many of the same features, the user experience isn’t vastly different. The crucial difference is that Canto is a legacy tool and Air is fresh.

Screenshot of the Canto interface

Source

Canto’s interface is reminiscent of legacy office and workflow software; Air looks and feels like the modern tool it is. Some people might prefer Canto’s more traditional feel, but Air’s intuitive, visually-appealing interface is better suited to the current moment and the years to come.


Customer support and security

Air

As a high-growth company, Air has a strong commitment to customer support and satisfaction. There’s a thorough and frequently-updated Help Center. Within the product and on the website, Air uses the customer support software Intercom so users can immediately interact with an in-house support specialist to answer questions and solve ad hoc problems.

A few sections of the Air Help Center

Any client who finds their way into the Air ecosystem through a conversation with the sales team will have a dedicated Account Executive who is always available and happy to work through the product experience. Basically, beyond the baseline of accessible support documentation and an on-call development team, Air is committed to solving every customer’s emergent issues expeditiously.

Lastly, Air is highly committed to maintaining a secure ecosystem for all user data. As of 2021, the product is SOC 2 compliant. The team continues to work with Drata, the world’s most advanced security and compliance automation platform, to maintain end-to-end security.

Canto

Canto offers thorough support documentation in the form of a help center and video tutorials. Their method of direct support is through a ticket submission form. Having never submitted a ticket, we cannot comment on their support response time relative to Air. Canto also uses a “Canto Bot” chat on their marketing site to answer basic questions.

In terms of security, Canto and Air are no different. Both are SOC 2 compliant; both run on Amazon Web Services (AWS).


Summary

Despite the difference in how long each product has been on the market, there are relatively few differences between Canto and Air. Both products see use by customers from many industries, including e-commerce and non-profit marketing teams. Both products are well-designed to automate digital content workflows.

When you’re researching digital asset management software, it can be difficult to actually make a decision. Most products have a similar feature overview. Most products have some sort of real-time content creation capabilities. Both of these statements are true of Canto and Air — so when you boil it all down, what’s the difference?

There are two crucial differences between Canto and Air. For one, Air allows you to start for free and scale your plan as needed. While Canto offers a free trial, they don’t offer affordable entry-level plans after that trial. Second, Air’s market freshness means that it was built from the ground up to cater to modern workplace needs — the founders built it to solve the issues they found with digital asset management software in their previous jobs. Canto is one of the legacy platforms they found issues with.

The final word is this: try both platforms. See which one feels more intuitive and has a better user experience. Start using Air for free right now — or, if you’re ready, talk to sales.

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