The Differences Between OTT and CTV: An Illustrated Guide

Meredith Portland About The Author

Dec 6, 2021 12:34:00 PM

The Differences Between OTT and CTV An Illustrated Guide

To many, it seems like just yesterday that you had to visit a video store to rent movies and television shows, or you had to wait until your favorites aired on cable to watch them. Streaming services emerged with advances in internet speeds and technology, and now there are so many platforms, it's hard to keep up. Most of us have simply picked them up and began using them without understanding what terms like OTT and CTV mean and how we can use them to spread the message about our brands.  

Learn more about what OTTs and CTVs are, their similarities and differences, and how they can be used together for a comprehensive marketing campaign.  

Learn more about using OTT for your business

What is OTT?   

OTT, or over the top, refers to the content accessed through the internet rather than regular cable or satellite services. Most people have watched video content from OTT services, whether they realize it or not. Some common examples of OTT providers include Disney+, Peacock, and Netflix.   

Screen Shot 2021-10-05 at 1.58.30 PMOTT services are beneficial to users by providing on-demand entertainment on numerous devices, and they also benefit advertisers by providing opportunities for targeted advertising. OTT platforms, such as Hulu and Amazon Prime TV, collect massive amounts of data about the types of shows viewers like to watch, how long they sit for a typical watching session, and so much more. These platforms use that data to make show or movie recommendations to keep viewers using the platform.   

What Is OTT Advertising?  

OTT platforms often have short ads that play throughout the viewed content, much like cable commercial breaks. OTT ads, however, are typically between 15 and 30 seconds, and commercial breaks don't usually last for more than two minutes. The best part about OTT advertising is that OTT platforms can use the analytics they collected to target your ads better.   

Each dollar you spend on OTT advertising can result in higher returns, as only those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer will see your ads. Traditional cable advertising requires marketers to purchase timeslots, and they cast a wide net hoping to capture a few viewers among the masses. OTT ads also play when someone accesses the content, so you don't have to purchase 4 am timeslots that few people see.   

Although these platforms are different from regular cable, it's easy to take commercials you have already made and use them for OTT advertising.   

What Is CTV?   

Screen Shot 2021-10-05 at 1.58.40 PMCTV, or connected TV, is often lumped together with OTT, but they are two distinct entities that often work together. CTV, however, refers to the medium of delivery of internet content. Smart TVs, Roku, and gaming consoles are examples of CTV because they allow viewers to connect to the internet and watch online content on their devices.  

What Is CTV Advertising? 

CTV ads are entirely different from OTT ads or cable commercials in that they take form as banners or square ads throughout the interface, much like ads shown on websites. Numerous people can view these ads as they scroll through them and try to decide what to watch. However, sometimes the line is blurred, as platforms like Hulu have started incorporating banner ads into their pause menus. 

How Do They Work Together?   

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 1.46.41 PMBoth advertising methods are powerful ways to spread the word about what you have to offer, as they can help you reach audiences that have been nearly impossible to target in the past. Both methods also provide unskippable ads, so users are much more likely to get the message you are conveying, even if they aren't watching TV.   

Because OTT and CTV platforms collect tons of data about viewing habits and lifestyles, they also allow advertisers to send out highly targeted ads that produce insights about your audience and key demographics. It enables you to tweak ads as needed to become as effective as possible at spreading your message.   

Consider Adding OTT and CTV Ads to Your Marketing Strategy 

Brands and small businesses often wonder about the difference between OTT and CTV, and it's essential to understand the distinction between the two. Now that you have a better grasp of these concepts, it's time to consider adding these advertising methods to your marketing campaign. Diving into OTT and CTV ads may seem like an overwhelming addition to your marketing strategy, but it's a logical and easy-to-implement next step to keep up with competitors, especially if you're already running cable TV ads.  

The best way to ensure that you're getting the biggest bang out of your advertising dollars is to work with advertising and media experts who have the knowledge and skills to create a comprehensive plan that will get results. Many businesses, large and small, view working with a media partner as one of the best investments they have ever made.  

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