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Ask a Marketing Consultant: What is OTT Advertising?

So, you’re ready to market your brand online – that’s great!  As you embark on your digital advertising journey, you might encounter some unfamiliar terms…one might be OTT Advertising.  So, what exactly are OTT ads?  We’re here to answer your questions to help position your brand in front of your ideal target customer


What You Need to Know About OTT Ads

You may think you don’t know what an OTT ad is, but odds are you’ve encountered plenty. Anytime you stream your favorite show or watch a video on YouTube, the advertisements you see are OTT ads. 

These ads, called over-the-top advertisements (abbreviated to OTT), are delivered alongside online streaming services. OTT ads bypass other platforms, like cable or satellite broadcasts, which are typically communicated on television. Due to their nature, OTT ads can reach customers through TVs, phones, computers, tablets, and more.

Girl watching content with OTT Advertising

How Are OTT Ads Different From Cable Ads?

OTT ads and TV ads share some similarities but also have distinct differences:

Delivery Platform:

  • TV ads are broadcast over traditional television networks and cable/satellite providers.

  • OTT ads are delivered online via streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video or standalone streaming platforms like Roku, Apple TV, or smart TV apps.

Targeting and Personalization:

  • OTT ads can be more targeted and personalized than traditional TV ads. They can leverage user data and preferences gathered through streaming services to deliver ads tailored to specific demographics or interests.

  • TV ads generally have broader targeting based on the demographic watching a particular channel or show, but they lack the granular targeting capabilities of OTT platforms.

Interactivity and Engagement:

  • OTT ads can offer interactive features like clickable links or overlays that allow viewers to engage directly with the ad content.

  • TV ads typically do not offer interactive features beyond maybe displaying a phone number or website for viewers to visit later.

Metrics and Measurement:

  • OTT ads provide more detailed metrics and measurement capabilities than TV ads. They allow you to track metrics like views, clicks, conversions, and even audience demographics more precisely.

  • TV ads rely on traditional metrics like Nielsen ratings, which provide an estimate of viewership but lack the detailed insights available through digital tracking.

Flexibility and Cost:

  • OTT ads often offer more flexibility in terms of budget and ad placement. You can choose specific shows, genres, or even individual episodes in which your ads will appear.

  • TV ads, especially those on prime-time slots or popular channels, can be more expensive and may require long-term commitments due to the limited number of ad slots available.

Ad Skipping:

  • OTT ads are generally more resistant to ad skipping than traditional TV ads. While viewers can sometimes skip or fast-forward through ads on certain streaming platforms, many OTT services have ad-supported tiers where ads are unskippable.

  • TV ads are subject to channel surfing or DVR fast-forwarding, which can lead to a higher rate of ad avoidance.

  • Overall, OTT ads offer more targeting options, better measurement capabilities, and potentially higher engagement levels than traditional TV ads. However, TV ads still maintain a broad reach and are often a cornerstone of many advertising campaigns, especially for brands targeting broad audiences.


Should I Use OTT Ads?

As we’ve discussed, OTT ads have some unique characteristics that set them apart from other types of ads and make them advantageous.

OTT ads allow you to be extremely precise with the demographics that your advertisement reaches. You can use data to identify various audiences and cultivate unique OTT ads to meet their interests. Using a variety of specific OTT ads to target various audiences is much more effective than one blanket ad that lots of people will see. 

Have you ever put out an ad and wondered how many people viewed it or how much of your website traffic was initiated by the advertisement? With OTT ads, you can learn all that and more! Not only do OTT ads allow you to target various audiences, but they also provide in-depth reporting and tracking information about the advertisement's success. 


What Are Some Cons of OTT Advertising?

Depending on the streaming platform and ad tier, some OTT ads can be “skipped” by viewers. However, many OTT services have ad-supported tiers where ads are unskippable.

As OTT ads gained prevalence, some consumers developed “ad fatigue” and, as a result, installed ad blockers on their devices. Some popular streaming services have also developed premium, ad-free product versions that consumers can enroll in for a fee.

Button to skip an OTT ad

How Do I Create a Successful OTT Ad Campaign?

Focusing on captivating visuals, concise messaging, and targeted audience segmentation is essential. Prioritize engaging storytelling, optimize for sound-off viewing, and leverage interactive elements if possible. Test and iterate based on performance metrics to continually refine and improve ad effectiveness.

Nowadays, high-quality content is no longer an indulgence but has become the norm. With so many apps and streaming services vying for attention, there isn’t room for low-quality, run-of-the-mill advertisements. The most successful ads are creative, dynamic, and highly engaging, which feel less like advertisements and more like content. With the advent of ad-skipping technology, companies must produce ads that capture the attention of potential customers so they aren’t inclined to turn away. 


Should OTT Be My Only Form of Digital Advertising?

While OTT advertising offers numerous advantages, it may not necessarily be the only form of digital advertising you should pursue. It should be a part of your overall Marketing Strategy.  It’s essential to consider your target audience, advertising goals, budget, and the nature of your products or services. Ultimately, the best approach to OTT ads depends on your specific business objectives, target audience, and available resources. While OTT advertising can be a valuable component of your digital marketing mix, it should be considered alongside other channels to create a comprehensive and effective advertising strategy.


How Do I Start With OTT Advertising?

Work with a knowledgeable marketer to develop an OTT campaign that aligns with your overall marketing strategy.  Utilizing an agency brings targeting, ad optimization, and creative development expertise.  Agencies have access to advanced tools and industry insights, ensuring your campaign is strategically planned and executed effectively.  An experienced professional can also handle the complexities of ad buying, measurement, and optimizing, saving you time and resources while maximizing campaign performance. 

Contact us to discuss how OTT can play a role in your overall marketing strategy!


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