OTT vs. CTV: Definitions, Differences, and Why You Should Care

CTV Ads vs. OTT Ads: What's the Difference?

CTV ads are blowing up! Or is it OTT that’s blowing up? Actually, it’s both. But, which one is which, and why should advertisers care about the nuances between them? We’ve got you covered in this short and sweet guide to OTT and CTV.  

What is OTT (over-the-top)? 

OTT, or Over-The-Top, refers to video content delivered over the Internet directly to viewers instead of traditional broadcast, satellite, or cable mediums. Think of it as skipping over the middleman that was linear tv! 

OTT Streaming Services 

OTT puts consumers in the driver’s seat by allowing them to find exactly what they want to watch and only pay for the content they want including ad-supported and ad-free content, and even one-time purchases. OTT video content can be accessed through streaming services, such as: 

  • Netflix 
  • Hulu 
  • Sling 
  • Disney+ 
  • Amazon Prime Video 
  • Peacock 

As I mentioned above, different OTT services have different types of subscriptions and subscription levels. 

OTT Devices 

Viewers can consume OTT content on many devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, and Smart TVs. You can also watch OTT content via Connected TV, which we’ll get into next. 

What is CTV (Connected TV)? 

Connected TV or CTV refers to a television or a TV-connected device that can stream video content from the web. Think of CTV as the conduit for delivering OTT content. 

CTV Devices 

A CTV device could be a Smart TV, a connected device (i.e., your ‘sticks’ and plug-in devices), or a gaming console. These devices will usually include apps from OTT services that allow consumers to access video content. 

  • Xbox 
  • PlayStation 
  • Chromecast 
  • Roku 
  • Apple TV 
  • Fire TV 

OTT advertising vs. CTV advertising 

This is where things can get confusing, especially with the surge in “what is OTT” articles—so we’ll keep it simple.  

OTT advertising typically consists of pre-roll ads and other video advertising that is shown to users watching ad-supported content. CTV advertising includes OTT ads as well as home screen display ads on the devices themselves. That’s why you’ll usually hear the term CTV advertising much more often. 

The benefits of CTV advertising 

Cord-cutting is at an all-time high. According to eMarketer, 83% of households have at least one Connected TV. And that number is growing. Advertisers need to follow their consumers — and many already are. Overall U.S. CTV advertising is expected to hit $19.1 billion this year. But CTV advertising isn’t just beneficial because ‘all the cool kids are doing it’.  

More robust audience targeting, flexible ad optimization, and superior ad measurement are just some of the advantages CTV has over Linear TV. Also, with ad-supported streaming, audiences don’t have the option to skip ads, close a window, or use ad blockers. Although they can’t click through to your website, video completion rates are sky high. 

“Got it. So, where do I start?” 

The very first—and most important—step in launching CTV ads is to know your target audience. And I don’t just mean demographics. What are their interests? Media consumption and buying habits? What are their personal values? Where are they consuming content? What’s their stance on political and social issues? 

Personalization matters more than ever. According to a report by McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect companies to provide personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. In a time when brand loyalty is dwindling, marketers can’t afford to miss the mark. 

Better campaigns start with better data. 

Resonate provides an easy-to-use insights and analytics platform that reveals 14,000+ key insights on your target audience—from their behaviors and motivations to their values and anxieties—all actionable from day one. Onboard and enrich your first-party data with our deep insights for a 360-degree view of the people you need to reach on CTV and across digital channels.  

Ready to see your audience in 4K with rich, relevant audience insights that drive ad personalization, performance, and ROI? Request a demo today! 

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