OTT, or "Over-The-Top", refers to the streaming of video content directly to viewers over the internet, bypassing traditional cable or satellite TV services. 

This type of advertising is unique because it offers brands the opportunity to reach cord-cutters – individuals who have foregone traditional television in favor of streaming services – as well as a younger, tech-savvy audience.

Why Brands Are Investing in OTT Video

As traditional TV viewership declines, more and more people are shifting towards streaming services for their entertainment needs. This migration has made OTT advertising an attractive proposition for brands looking to capture a dedicated and engaged audience. OTT offers precise audience targeting, rich data insights, and the ability to deliver a more personalized ad experience.

Where OTT Ads Display

OTT ads aren't restricted to just the middle of a show or movie. They can appear pre-roll (before the content begins), mid-roll (during breaks similar to traditional TV commercials), or post-roll (after the content concludes). This variety in ad placements allows brands to position their content strategically, ensuring optimal viewer engagement. Furthermore, OTT ads can appear across various devices, from smart TVs and desktops to tablets and smartphones, widening their reach.

OTT Platforms

When we talk about OTT platforms, names like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+ might come to mind. However, while some of these services are strictly subscription-based and ad-free, others like Hulu offer an ad-supported version. Other emerging platforms, such as Roku, Peacock, and HBO Max, also offer OTT ad slots.

Understanding OTT Advertising

How to Buy OTT Ads

Purchasing OTT ads varies by platform, but many platforms provide self-service portals where advertisers can directly buy and manage their ad campaigns. Other platforms might work through partnerships with media buying agencies or programmatic advertising platforms. These collaborations provide advertisers with the flexibility to bid for ad space in real time and target their audience with precision.

  • YouTube (Google Ads)
  • Hulu
  • Roku
  • Amazon Prime Video (Amazon Advertising)
  • Disney+ (Generally through Disney Advertising Sales)
    • While Disney+ originally launched as an ad-free service, its parent company, Disney, offers advertising solutions across its media network. Direct ad placements specific to Disney+ might be more nuanced or might have developed after my last update. As of my last knowledge update, you'd typically engage with Disney Advertising Sales for broader advertising opportunities across Disney platforms.

Best Practices for OTT Video Content

OTT video content should be engaging and relevant. Since viewers have the option to skip or close out of ads, it's essential to capture their attention in the first few seconds. High-quality visuals, clear messaging, and a compelling call to action are key. Additionally, OTT ads should be optimized for different screen sizes and devices, ensuring a seamless viewing experience.

Targeting and Measurement in OTT Advertising

OTT advertising is revolutionizing the way brands reach audiences by offering advanced targeting options and precise measurement tools that give you much more control than linear TV ads ever could. Here’s how OTT stands out:

Targeting Options

Behavioral Targeting: OTT platforms can track what shows or movies users watch, allowing advertisers to serve ads to those with specific viewing habits. So, if someone binge-watches cooking shows, they might see ads for new kitchen gadgets.

Interest-Based Targeting: Ads can be tailored to what viewers are into. Love sports? You’ll likely see ads for the latest fitness gear. This keeps the ads relevant and engaging.

First-Party Data: OTT platforms use their own collected data (like subscription details and viewing history) to personalize ads. Brands can also bring in their own customer data to retarget users who’ve visited their sites.

Retargeting: Ever feel like an ad is following you? That’s retargeting. OTT ads can be served to users who interacted with your brand but didn’t convert, keeping your product top of mind across different devices.

Geolocation Targeting: Ads can target viewers based on where they are. Whether you’re a local shop or a national chain, you can make sure your message reaches people in the right places.

Metrics That Matter

View-Through Rate (VTR): This shows how many people watched your ad all the way through. High VTR? Your ad is a hit!

Conversion Tracking: Tools like Google Analytics help track what actions viewers take after seeing your ad—like visiting your website or making a purchase.

Cross-Device Tracking: Track how viewers interact with your ads across different devices. Using IP addresses, you can see a complete picture of the user journey from TV to mobile to desktop.

Audience Insights: OTT platforms give detailed reports on who’s watching your ads. Use these insights to tweak your strategy and improve future campaigns.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This measures the revenue generated from your ad spend, helping you see if your OTT campaigns are paying off.

OTT advertising is all about engaging the right viewers with precision and measuring the impact. By using these advanced targeting and measurement tools, you can create more personalized ad campaigns that truly connect with your audience.

Challenges and Future of OTT Advertising

Like any emerging medium, OTT advertising has its set of challenges. Ad fraud, fragmented viewership, and data privacy concerns are among the top issues faced by advertisers. However, the future is bright. As technology evolves and platforms become more sophisticated, these challenges will be addressed. With innovations in interactivity and immersive ad experiences on the horizon, OTT advertising is set to redefine the way brands connect with their audiences.

10 Steps For Creating an OTT Advertising Campaign

The shift from traditional cable TV to Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms has opened up a plethora of opportunities for advertisers. These platforms allow for more targeted and interactive ad campaigns, leveraging the expansive reach of television with the precise targeting capabilities of digital advertising. Here's a detailed breakdown of the steps involved in crafting a successful OTT advertising campaign:

  1. Planning Your Strategy: The foundation of a compelling OTT campaign lies in a clear understanding of your target audience. Know your audience, and know how to get your ads in front of them.
  2. Crafting Content: Content is king, and in the realm of OTT, this adage holds. Design content that speaks to your target audience, whether it's a full-length commercial, a quick promotional clip, or an interactive video. The key is to make it engaging, relatable, and actionable.
  1. Procuring Ad Space: Your canvas awaits once you’ve zeroed in on your platforms. You can directly negotiate with the platform or tap into the power of programmatic advertising, leveraging AI-driven tools to automate and optimize media inventory purchases.
  1. Audience Segmentation: This is where OTT is the strongest. With OTT, we can get ultra -specific in our targeting. For example, we can target people who are interested in EVs and shop at Home Depot (where Wallbox launched their product). We can target by income. We can target parents and get down the age range of their kids. We can target luxury shoppers or bargain hunters, and everything in between. We can target people who like woodworking or people who like collecting stamps. You can segment your audience down to their interests, behaviors, or demographic attributes, getting your message to the right eyes and ears.
  1. Campaign Configuration: With your audience and content ready, it’s time to get logistical. This includes scheduling the frequency, duration, and platforms where your ads will grace the screens.
  1. Hitting the Launch Button: With all the planning behind you, it's time to go live. Launch your campaign and watch as your content captivates audiences on their favorite OTT platforms.
  1. Continuous Monitoring: Keep a tab on key performance indicators like view-through rates, engagement metrics, and conversion percentages.
  1. On-the-Fly Optimization: Data should be your guide. If some elements of your campaign underperform, don't hesitate to recalibrate. This can involve reshaping content, adjusting schedules, or refining your segmentation strategy.
  1. Comprehensive Reporting: As the campaign curtains close, don't forget to retrospect. Compile a holistic report outlining the campaign's highs and lows, successes and areas of improvement. These insights become the building blocks for future campaigns.

OTT advertising, particularly when broadcasted on television screens, combines the immersive experience unique to TV with the measurable impact akin to direct response channels. With the right steps, advertisers can craft campaigns that not only engage but also drive desired outcomes.

Why Marketers Should Add OTT Advertising to Their Media Mix

OTT (Over-The-Top) advertising is transforming the advertising landscape by merging the broad appeal of traditional TV with the precision and flexibility of digital marketing. This makes it a must-have for modern marketers looking to spice up their media mix.

Combining the Best of Both Worlds

OTT advertising captures the essence of TV’s grandeur but adds the magic of digital marketing. You get the immersive, wide-screen experience of TV ads combined with the real-time measurability and flexibility of digital ads. This blend allows for sophisticated targeting and immediate adjustments, ensuring your ads hit the right audience at the right time.

Real-Time Adjustments

One of the standout features of OTT advertising is its ability to make real-time tweaks. If an ad isn't performing well on one platform, it can be quickly adjusted or shifted to another, optimizing performance on the fly. This level of control and responsiveness is something traditional TV simply can't offer.

Interactive Potential

Unlike passive TV commercials, OTT ads can be interactive. Viewers can click on products, watch additional content, or even make purchases without leaving their screens. This interactive element engages audiences in a way that traditional ads can't, making your campaigns more memorable and effective.

How Does OTT Advertising Work?

The OTT Ecosystem

The OTT ecosystem involves a dynamic interplay between content creators, platforms, advertisers, and viewers. OTT platforms stream content directly over the internet, bypassing traditional TV channels. This setup allows advertisers to insert their ads easily into the streaming content, ensuring targeted delivery.

Types of OTT Ads

  • Pre-roll Ads: These play before the main content starts, capturing the viewer's attention right from the beginning.
  • Mid-roll Ads: Similar to traditional TV commercials, these ads play during natural breaks in the content.
  • Post-roll Ads: These are displayed after the main content concludes, perfect for strong call-to-action messages.
  • Interactive Ads: These invite viewers to engage directly, enhancing the ad experience with activities like clicking on products or participating in polls.

OTT Ad-Insertion Methods: CSAI vs. SSAI

  • Client-Side Ad Insertion (CSAI): The video player on the viewer’s device requests the ad from an ad server, offering flexibility but sometimes causing buffering.
  • Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI): Ads are stitched into the content stream at the server level, ensuring a smooth, buffer-free viewing experience.

Types of OTT Monetization Models

  • Subscription-Based Video on Demand (SVOD): Users pay a recurring fee for ad-free access to content libraries. Examples include Netflix and Disney+.
  • Advertising-Based Video on Demand (AVOD): Content is free for viewers, but interspersed with ads. Platforms like Hulu and Tubi use this model.
  • Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD): Users pay per view for specific content. This model is popular for new releases or exclusive events.
  • Premium Video on Demand (PVOD): Similar to TVOD but often involves higher price points for exclusive or early access content.

OTT Advertising Strategies and Best Practices

Audience Targeting and Personalization

OTT advertising excels in targeting specific audience segments with precision. Use analytics to understand your audience’s demographics, interests, and viewing habits. Tailor your ads to resonate with different segments for higher engagement and conversion rates.

Cross-Device Campaigns

Ensure your OTT ads are optimized across all devices, from smartphones to smart TVs. Consistent messaging and responsive design are crucial to maintain effectiveness across platforms.

Measurement and Optimization

Regularly track key metrics like viewer engagement, ad completion rates, and conversions. Use this data to refine your strategy and improve campaign performance continually.

Creative Tips for Effective OTT Ads

  • Engage Quickly: Capture attention within the first few seconds to avoid being skipped.
  • Clear Call to Action: Ensure viewers know what action to take after watching the ad.
  • High-Quality Production: Match the premium nature of OTT content with high-quality ads to enhance credibility.

Top OTT Advertising Platforms and Examples

  • YouTube: Offers a vast audience with diverse ad formats.
  • Hulu: Combines on-demand content and live TV with detailed viewer analytics.
  • Facebook Watch: Leverages social media’s reach for high engagement potential.
  • TikTok: Engages younger audiences with dynamic, interactive ads.

Cost and ROI of OTT Advertising

OTT advertising costs can vary based on platform selection, ad format, and targeting specifics. Continuous measurement and optimization ensure that campaigns remain cost-effective and deliver high ROI.

Growth of OTT Ads

With the rise of high-speed internet and streaming services, OTT advertising spend is increasing. Brands are keen to leverage the engaged audiences on these platforms for effective marketing.

Future Predictions for OTT Advertising

Expect to see more integration with e-commerce, immersive AR/VR ad experiences, and advanced automated ad buying processes driven by AI.

By understanding and leveraging the unique strengths of OTT advertising, marketers can create compelling campaigns that captivate modern viewers and drive significant results.


What is OTT Advertising?

OTT advertising refers to the delivery of video ads through "Over-The-Top" platforms, which allow users to stream video content over the Internet, bypassing traditional cable or satellite TV services.

How Does OTT Advertising Differ from Traditional TV Advertising?

Unlike traditional TV advertising, which broadcasts ads to a general audience, OTT advertising leverages user data to deliver targeted ads to specific demographics, interests, or viewing habits.

Why Should I Invest in OTT Advertising Over Other Advertising Channels?

OTT advertising combines the broad reach of TV with the precision of digital targeting, offering personalized ad experiences that can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Which Platforms Are Best for OTT Advertising?

Popular platforms include YouTube, Hulu, Roku, and Amazon Prime Video, among others. The best platform for your brand depends on your target audience and campaign goals.

How Do I Measure the Success of an OTT Advertising Campaign?

Key metrics to monitor include video completion rates, click-through rates, engagement metrics, and conversion metrics. Advanced analytics on many OTT platforms also offer insights into audience demographics and behavior.

What is the Average Cost of OTT Advertising?

The cost varies based on factors like platform choice, ad format, duration, audience targeting, and content type. It's essential to consult individual platforms for specific pricing.

How Can I Ensure My Ads Are Seen by My Target Audience?

OTT platforms offer sophisticated targeting capabilities. By using platform analytics and integrating third-party data, you can tailor your ads to specific audience segments.

Do Viewers Tend to Skip OTT Ads Like They Do with Online Video Ads?

While some OTT platforms offer skippable ads, many provide non-skippable ad formats, ensuring that your message gets seen. Additionally, the immersive nature of OTT content often leads to higher ad engagement compared to other digital ads.

Is OTT Advertising Suitable for Local or Small Businesses?

Absolutely! With geo-targeting capabilities, local businesses can serve ads specifically to viewers in their region or city, making OTT a powerful tool for localized campaigns.

How Will OTT Advertising Evolve in the Next Five Years?

Predictions include a rise in interactive ads, increased integration with e-commerce, growth in AR and VR ad experiences, and more automation in ad buying, leveraging AI and machine learning.