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OTT vs. CTV Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Same same, but different? Let’s clear up the confusion once and for all.

OTT vs. CTV Advertising: What’s the Difference?

5 Min Read

While you’ve been learning more about the value and benefits of Connected TV advertising, a quick Google search may bring up some terms that you may or may not be familiar with, such as CTV and OTT. We recently ran a survey and found that 36% have a basic knowledge of CTV ads, and 31% are in experimentation mode right now but not fully investing in this burgeoning channel – that’s over three-quarters of people who are getting acquainted with the idea that TV can be a direct-response marketing channel.


We created a handy guide that answers the question of what is Connected TV, along with the most commonly thrown-around industry terms. But we get asked about the difference between CTV and OTT so often that we wanted to dedicate a blog post to dissipate any debate  – not that there was one to begin with, which you’ll learn about below.

What Is the Difference Between OTT and CTV?

OTT and CTV are often used interchangeably, and can refer to the same thing. But importantly, OTT streams content across all devices such as mobile and desktop. Connected TV does not, but rather serves to TV screens. OTT means Over-the-Top, which refers to content that goes “over” your cable box to give you access to TV content using an internet connection instead of a cable cord or satellite by traditional broadcast providers (hence the term ‘cord cutters’, which we talk about in a lot of our content).

For CTV, this can be done in two ways:

  • Regular TVs connected to multimedia devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Chromecast, which allows you to view OTT/CTV content through the Internet. 
  • Regular TVs with in-built internet connectivity, like Smart TVs.

OTT content can be accessed on TV, but really on any device that has an internet connection, like mobiles, desktops, tablets, and laptops. We prefer viewing this content on TV because it supports a higher-quality viewing (and advertising) experience.  

If you’re still a little confused by the OTT/CTV definition, you can also think of providers like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Roku, where all you need is WiFi to connect to your favorite TV shows and you’re good to go.

What About OTT vs. CTV Advertising?

Same answer as the one before. They can be used interchangeably, but the difference comes down to the devices which the ads are served.

If served exclusively on a TV screen, OTT advertising transforms TV into a performance marketing channel, which means advertisers can target audiences (using either first or third-party data) on their OTT/CTV device across ad-supported shows (FAST channels) on premium networks. These networks vary, depending on the type of CTV advertising platform that you’re using. MNTN, for example, partners only with brand-safe and top-tier networks like CNN, CNBC, and ESPN. After your OTT ad is screened, you can then track who has visited your brand’s website and converted, from watching your ad.

You can find out more about this powerful feature here.

Who Should Advertise on OTT?

Everyone! As long as it is guaranteed to serve on a TV screen, that. “I can’t advertise on TV, because it’s unattainable” is something that we hear regularly from our customers who have since moved to OTT and CTV advertising. We’re more than happy to help brands make what was once thought impossible, possible. We’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, on both the B2B and B2C sides looking for reasons to invest in OTT. Browse our Case Studies section, where you’ll learn how customers from all industries have had great success with advertising on OTT. 

Connected TV vs OTT

In case you’d like a refresher on why all brands should take up this direct-response channel, here are a couple of quick hitters:

OTT vs Connected TV

Wait, Can We Rewind Back to the Measurement Piece Again? 

Glad you asked! There has been some concern surrounding the measurement of CTV and OTT advertising, particularly around whether or not it is possible to view performance across the platform and on other devices (as we mentioned, MNTN Performance TV allows advertisers to reach viewers on OTT and then retarget them with ads on their secondary devices). Attribution is a big piece of the puzzle that we solve at MNTN, with our proprietary Cross-Device Verified Visits technology, which works with your brand’s sales cycle and determines when someone sees your ad, and what device they use to convert within their household. 

Our platform also complements Google Analytics (a performance marketers other best friend, besides us), where your OTT ad performance can be viewed alongside all of your other digital marketing channels like social media, video, etc. 

Final Thoughts on OTT vs. CTV Advertising

If there’s anything to take away here, it’s that OTT and Connected TV advertising are often referred to interchangeably. The big (and most important) difference is that OTT can be served on mobile and desktop, while Connected TV is served on television screens. We hope you’ve found this useful, and don’t hesitate to reach out anytime if you would like to learn more about OTT/CTV advertising.

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