Connected TV

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?

6 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 59% of advertisers are running Connected TV ads, and over three-quarters of US households own at least one Connected TV device. In short, more people are getting acquainted with the idea that TV can be a performance marketing channel.

Do You Currently Advertise Through TV (Either Linear or Connected TV)?

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 Connected TV Advertising?

CTV advertising refers to a method of advertising that targets viewers watching TV content via an internet-connected device such as a smart TV, gaming console, or streaming device. Think of connected TV as the device used rather than the content delivered.

With the rise of cord-cutting and the popularity of streaming services, connected TV advertising has become an increasingly important channel for marketers looking to reach consumers in a fragmented media landscape.

What is OTT Advertising?

OTT advertising, or over-the-top advertising, is a method of delivering video content to viewers over the internet. In other words, it’s more so referring to the method of content delivery rather than the device.

To put it another way, OTT 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).

What Is the Difference Between OTT and CTV?

OTT and CTV are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences between the two, as outlined below:

  • OTT is the method of delivery that streams content across all devices such as mobile and desktop.
  • Connected TV is the device used (usually a smart TV) to view the OTT content.

When it comes to viewing content on connected TV, 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 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.

Benefits of CTV and OTT Advertising

This is where we get to the good stuff! CTV and OTT is more than a trend—it’s a marketing revolution. Here are just a few of the primary benefits of this type of advertising:

  • Targeted advertising: Advertisers can deliver ads to specific households based on their demographics, interests, and viewing habits. This makes it more efficient than traditional TV advertising, which is less precise in its targeting.
  • High viewability: Ads are unskippable and can be seen in full-screen mode, resulting in higher viewability rates compared to other forms of digital advertising.
  • Brand safety: OTT and CTV platforms offer a safe advertising environment, with little risk of ad fraud or brand safety issues.
  • Cost-effective: CTV and OTT advertising are often more cost-effective than traditional TV advertising, as they can reach the same audience for a lower cost. Additionally, advertisers can avoid paying for ads that do not reach their intended audience.
  • Better engagement: This type of advertising allows for better engagement, as viewers are more likely to watch an entire ad when it is delivered through OTT devices. Additionally, OTT ads can be interactive and provide a better user experience than traditional TV ads.
  • Measurable results: OTT and CTV advertising provides measurable results, allowing advertisers to track the performance of their ads and make data-driven decisions. This makes it easier to optimize campaigns and improve ROI (return on investment).
  • Flexibility: CTV and OTT advertising allows for flexibility in ad placement and timing, as well as the ability to customize ads for different platforms and devices. This means that advertisers can reach their audience at the right time and place with the right message.
  • Reach: With the popularity of free ad-supported streaming services, businesses can reach a large audience, including cord-cutters and younger viewers who may not be reached through traditional TV advertising.

Who Should Advertise on OTT and CTV?

“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. However, to prove the naysayers wrong—OTT and CTV is for everyone.

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.

New Categories on OTT Are Up: 34 New Categories, 82 New Advertisers & 119 New Brands Featuring Their Ads on 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:

Measuring CTV and OTT Campaigns

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.

CTV attribution is a big piece of the puzzle that we solve at MNTN, with our proprietary 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 marketer’s 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. 

OTT vs. CTV Advertising: Final Thoughts

If there’s anything to take away here, it’s that OTT and Connected TV advertising are not the same. 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.