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Social video, binge-watching and online gaming are becoming can’t miss opportunities.

Each month this year, nearly 60% of U.S. viewers will watch live content streamed from the internet on their TV. It’s a big step. Accessing television content through internet streaming services (covered broadly under the terms OTT and CTV) loops the most dominant traditional ad channel into the digital advertising supply chain.

But what exactly is OTT or CTV?

What does OTT or CTV mean for advertisers?

OTT and CTV couple the benefits of data-driven hypertargeting with more accessible, cost-efficient paid media campaign options. Traditional cable or TV advertising comes with minimums and less-segmented audience targeting that is impractical and cost-prohibitive for agile, personalized campaigns.

OTT ad inventory is accessed through digital advertising platforms and exchanges. Media buyers use DSPs (demand-side platforms) to structure campaigns to leverage the most efficient tactics. That ranges from real-time programmatic advertising to direct private marketplace deals with premium publishers.

And media buying agencies are able to use sophisticated digital targeting tools to layer in key datasets, adjust to the most effective tactic and increase efficiency.

But OTT does come with its own unique considerations. Here are what brands should keep in mind when adding OTT or CTV to their campaign mix.

Make OTT ads targeted and personalized. 

Much of the power of digital advertising is attributed to personalization. Targeting gets your ad in front of your audience (and avoids spending on people outside it), but it is personalization that makes the ad work.

A recent report found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that send them relevant offers and recommendations. Traditional TV advertising doesn’t allow that level of granularity. It may be why a Roku-commissioned study found OTT ads to be 67% more effective than linear or cable TV advertising.

However, personalization is a double-edged sword. For instance, 35% of consumers think it is creepy to see social ads for products they’ve browsed for online. Seeing a creepy or intrusive ad on your mobile phone is one thing; being served an embarrassing or invasive ad on TV in a room full of family and friends is a potential disaster for some brands.

OTT video ads should be a part of broader content marketing efforts. 

Video ads are a catalyst throughout the buying journey, not just as a brand awareness tool. YouTube, one of the biggest ad-supported players in the OTT space, has seen watch time for “which product to buy” videos double in 2018. And according to Hubspot research, 54% of audiences want to see video content from brands they like, which is more than any other medium.

A successful content strategy will leverage the appropriate channel and tactic. The opportunities for brands on a social platform are different from a true OTT provider, like Hulu, where targeted awareness campaigns may be more successful, especially when a part of a larger display, mobile and social campaign. Brands should look for media planning and buying partners who can help them pursue the correct opportunities, based on their campaign goals.

OTT is part of the digital ad ecosystem, so ad fraud protections are critical.

One of the appeals of OTT is that it is a new and growing channel for advertising. OTT and CTV is still a fragmented marketplace without dominate players.

The diversity creates space for innovation and new opportunities. But it also means fragmented standards and reporting, and that creates space for bad actors. Some experts estimate fraud rates range from 2% to 90%  depending on the campaign.

Advertisers should look for a media buying partner who will insist on reporting from ad tech partners, analyze the data and take action. Bots, spoofing, unauthorized inventory reselling and fraudulent publishers are still a risk. It takes careful analysis and dedication to make sure your ads achieve your goals efficiently.

OTT and CTV are still developing but they represent a real opportunity.

In the world of streaming video, even the terminology is still in flux. But that openness can be a tremendous opportunity for innovation in a space that has been a growing staple of digital advertising. With a strategic, sophisticated media buying partner, brands can be ready to take advantage of that innovation.

For more information, see our thoughts on approaching ad fraud or leveraging hyper-targeting strategies. To talk to us about how we can help you plan your next digital campaign, reach out to [email protected].


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