Navigating the OTT vs CTV Debate: Understanding Streaming Differences

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In this fast-paced digital age, streaming has become one of the most popular ways consumers can access video content. It offers convenience, flexibility, and many options that traditional TV cannot match.

However, with so many acronyms and technical terms thrown around, the streaming landscape can seem overwhelming, especially for marketers.

So, what is the difference between OTT and CTV? Let’s break it down here in our ultimate guide for marketers.

What Are the Key Differences Between OTT and CTV Platforms?

Over-the-top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) platforms are two emerging digital mediums that have taken the advertising world by storm. OTT refers to any video content or TV programming that is delivered over the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service.

On the other hand, CTV platforms are internet-connected TV sets or devices that allow streaming of digital content from a variety of sources. While both of these platforms have their own set of benefits for marketers, understanding the key differences between them is crucial to determine which one is best suited for your marketing objectives.

One of the key differences between OTT and CTV platforms is the difference in their demographics. In general, CTV users tend to be slightly older compared to OTT users.

The ad formats for OTT and CTV platforms are also different. OTT publishers often employ mid-roll ads or ads that appear during a video stream, whereas CTV publishers are limited to pre-roll ads or ads that appear before the start of a video stream. This restriction in ad formats makes it easier for advertisers to track engagement and performance on CTV platforms.

Viewing habits and user experience are also different on OTT and CTV platforms. Consumers on CTV tend to lean towards “lean-back” experiences, where they are more likely to sit and watch content for longer periods of time. This makes CTV a great platform to showcase big-budget, eye-catching ad campaigns.

On the other hand, OTT viewers are more likely to be active viewers who engage with content across multiple devices. This makes OTT more suitable for interactive or personalized ad content.

How to Choose Between CTV and OTT for Your Ads

When deciding between CTV and OTT advertising, it’s important to understand the viewing habits of your target audience.

For example, if your audience is primarily watching streaming platforms on their mobile devices or laptops, OTT advertising might be the best fit.

However, if your audience is more likely to be watching TV shows and movies on their living room TV sets, CTV advertising may be the better choice. Again, consulting the general target demographics (particularly age range) when making this decision might be helpful.

Cost is also always a consideration. CTV ads tend to be more expensive due to the captive audience and high viewability rates, while OTT ads are often less expensive and offer a wider reach.

If you have a larger budget and want to target a specific audience during their TV viewing time, CTV advertising may be the way to go. However, if you have a lower budget and want to reach a broader audience across different devices, OTT advertising may be the better choice.

Measuring Performance on Either Platform

Ultimately, measuring the success of your campaign is just as important as creating it. Before choosing between CTV and OTT advertising, make sure to analyze the metrics from your previous campaigns.

Which form of advertising has resulted in higher conversion rates? Which had a better return on investment? Take these metrics into account when choosing your next advertising strategy.

There are a few key differences in measurements across platforms, too – something else that’s important to weigh as you make your decision.

The metrics to track on OTT platforms are considered an upgrade from traditional TV metrics. Impressions, viewability, and completion rate are the essential OTT metrics to watch (though there are, of course, others).

Impressions refer to the number of times your ad is seen by online viewers. Viewability measures the percentage of the ad that is viewable by an audience, while completion rate tracks the percentage of viewers that watch the entire ad.

On the flip side, CTV metrics are commonly similar to those measured in traditional TV advertising. They are more robust than the OTT metrics and attach the tracking of ROI to these metrics. Examples of metrics to track with CTV include household reach and frequency, average frequency, and cost per rating point.

To best measure performance, you need to create an airtight plan that works for both platforms.

Make sure that you’ve set your KPIs early on, so you can track your success rate. Track where your ads run and how they perform. Monitor the ad’s frequency, viewability, impressions, engagement, completion rate, cost per mile (CPM), and return on advertising spend (ROAS).

Final Thoughts

Navigating the OTT vs CTV debate can seem daunting, but it’s important to understand the differences between these two major streaming options.

OTT offers flexibility and the ability to access content on a variety of devices, while CTV offers a more traditional TV-viewing experience with the convenience of streaming.

When it comes to choosing between the two for your marketing strategy, consider your goals and target audience – then, you can decide how you can use a combination of both to maximize your impact and boost your ROI.

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