The Differences Between OTT and Connected TV

Stephanie Hoey

Stephanie Hoey About The Author

Sep 10, 2020 8:55:00 AM

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In the past couple of years, new platforms for viewing content have hit the market. Viewers have become more demanding of how and when they consume their content. With this increase in demand and the introduction of new platforms, businesses have had to strategize how and where they will advertise. If you want to achieve maximum marketing results, you need to keep your brand in front of your target audience as much and as often as possible. OTT and connected TV allow you to do just that, but what are they? And how do they work? Let’s discuss. 

What is OTT?

OTT, or over-the-top television, was named so because it initially provided a service "over the top" of traditional cable services. OTT services allow viewers to choose and stream exactly the type of content they want to consume, when they want to consume it. It includes platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Programs can be streamed through any device, including a connected TV, but can also be consumed through mobile devices, including laptops, phones, and tablets. 

Learn more about OTT advertising

What is Connected TV?

Connected TV, also called smart TV, is television that is connected to the internet. Through these devices, users can stream programs over the internet. Some users choose to hook their televisions to the internet through the use of other devices, including Apple TV or gaming consoles. These strategies allow users to access more interactive ads as well as providing them with access to OTT programming. CTV advertising allows you to target those users, rather than specific content.

What are the Differences?

OTT is a delivery mechanism: the strategy through which content is placed in front of the user, regardless of the type of device they use to stream that content. A connected TV, on the other hand, is one useful device that can be used to stream that content. Connected TV may be used for OTT as well as video streaming.

OTT and connected TV devices have become increasingly popular in many households. There are more than 182 million subscribers to OTT services in the US alone. Across the country, there are more than 820 million connected devices, which allow for a wide reach and connectivity among consumers. 

Advertising with both can look very similar, but you will take a different approach based on the method you choose to focus on. OTT ads usually get placed in front of specific pieces of content. You can tailor them to fit a specific demographic based on the type of content you're advertising alongside, but you may not have the ability to monitor users' other behavior or get a better feel for their plans.

CTV advertising, on the other hand, allows you to connect more directly with users. Like social media or email marketing, it allows you to target the consumers who fit your target demographic directly. You can observe their behaviors, both those related to the ads and to other types of content they choose to engage with. 

What's Right for Your Business?

Both CTV and OTT advertising allows you to target a growing demographic: consumers, often including millennials, who have chosen to "cut the cord" with traditional cable services. The method you use will depend on the results you hope to achieve and how you want to spread the word. You may find that an integrated strategy helps you better reach your goals, especially when used in conjunction with traditional television ads and digital marketing strategies. Before you make a decision, consider several key questions.

First, who are you trying to reach with your ads? By using OTT ads positioned in front of specific programs, for example, you can cast the same sort of wide net that you would use for traditional TV advertising, though you might reach a slightly different audience. If, on the other hand, you want to reach a more specific audience, including a retargeted audience that has engaged with your content in other ways, CTV advertising might better fit your needs. 

Second, what type of content does your target audience engage with most often? Do you have a target audience that might watch a specific type of programming, or do you use other factors to identify and reach them? By determining how you want to handle that reach, you can better determine whether OTT or CTV advertising will work most effectively for you. When in doubt, talk to your media partner about the platform that will best meet the needs of your business. 

CTV and OTT have become increasingly important over the past several years. Today's users have multiple streaming services to choose from, and many homes have a variety of devices that they use to stream content. Using an integrated approach that includes multiple platforms often serves as a highly effective method that can help you better reach your overall goals. It will provide more touches with potential customers and give you ample opportunities to share information about your business and your services with your target audience.  

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