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CTV & OTT Advertising: 2021 Guide for Marketers

What Is Connected TV (CTV) And Over The Top (OTT) Advertising? How Should Marketers Be Thinking About Each Platform? Read Our Guide Today!

The Opportunity

March 2020 marked the beginning of one of the most disruptive moments in modern history, creating economic challenges across almost every media category. But for some, the disruption became a positive force for massive growth and accelerated adoption. Among those industries are streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. For these advanced TV media brands and many others, it marked the beginning of unprecedented subscriber growth as most Americans took to digital entertainment to help cope with the pandemic. According to Nielsen, streaming amounted to 142.5 minutes on average per week in the second quarter of 2020, up from 81.7 minutes a year ago.

Insight: In the US alone, people spend an average of two hours per day on digital video, eMarketer.

As consumers’ movie and TV viewing habits gravitate toward digital platforms, brands have an opportunity to activate targeted Connected TV (CTV) and Over-the-top (OTT) video advertising at scale and at a lower cost than traditional linear TV advertising. In fact, 2020 was the year that marketers could reach more U.S. households via streaming TV services than conventional cable TV. A brand could miss up to 40 percent of its desired audience reach by ignoring CTV or OTT in its media plan, depending on the target audience segment.1

1 The Future of TV Report: the CTV Tipping Point (TradeDesk MarketInsights, Jan. 2021)

What is CTV & OTT?

What is Connected TV (CTV) advertising and Over-the-top (OTT) advertising, and how should marketers be thinking about each platform? To help understand the differences and the benefits of each, we dive into both to help define how OTT and CTV can fit into marketers’ overall media mix.

OTT CTV
OTT stands for ‘over-the-top.’ It refers to TV content streamed over the internet without the need to be subscribed to a traditional cable box service. CTV is a subset of OTT and stands for ‘Connected TV.’ Essentially, we are talking about the type of device on which OTT content is viewed.
CTV and OTT
OTT content is usually high-quality, long-form video. OTT content can be viewed on various device types – CTV, Mobile, Tablet, Desktop. CTV includes: Smart TVs, a television with a built-in internet connection and media platform; and connected device, such as Roku, that plugs into a TV, and the internet to enable apps and video streaming regardless of whether the TV itself is “smart”; and game consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox.

Benefits of OTT & CTV Advertising

There are several marketing benefits surrounding OTT and CTV advertising. The two most notable are reach and targeting capabilities.

Because OTT & CTV are digital platforms, marketers can plan their video campaigns the same way they do mobile and desktop. GroundTruth’s Ads Manager platform for instance allows you to activate targeting capabilities that do not exist with traditional linear TV ads.

These same video ads can be deployed across premium inventory, giving marketers the ability to extend their campaigns’ value. For example, although this year’s March Madness looked much different than it did in 2019, marketers are able to target consumers who have attended or watched games using offline behavioral audience data. They can deploy their video ads across CTV, OTT and relevant mobile publishers.

Insight: Most OTT content is watched on CTV (75%). Moreover, engaged audiences specifically on CTV, watching from their couch in front of the big screen, cannot skip or fast forward ads.

OTT and CTV advertising can also help reach those consumers who have moved from traditional linear TV to streaming services. Including an increasing number of cord-cutters, the cord nevers, and cord shavers.

Shifting your linear TV marketing spend to advance TV solutions such as OTT and CTV allows you to optimize your audience segmentation and targeting towards meaningful business outcomes such as visits and sales.

For those of you who are already investing in mobile and desktop video, you have the opportunity to extend your campaign reach through the big screen using omni channel solutions without the high cost of traditional TV.

What you should know about OTT & CTV Advertising

While we believe OTT and CTV advertising present much more targeting capabilities and flexibility than traditional linear TV, there are several important factors that marketers should be aware of before they add CTV and OTT into their overall marketing mix:

OTT/CTV is where mobile was 10 years ago: Compared to other digital advertising options OTT and CTV are still in early development but the benefits and future potential far outweigh some of the unknowns. Although there are limited ad formats right now, there is still lots of upside. Marketers should be excited about greater reach and personalization possibilities and look for ways to explore and test what might work for their brand.
Measurement Options: There are several options for measuring the effectiveness of OTT and CTV advertising. As with any campaign, we recommend that marketers align the right metrics with their business goals as well as their overall marketing campaigns. Today you can measure OTT and CTV video advertising through impressions, reach, video completion rate, and visits.
Brand Safety: Just like any other advertising channel, marketers should be mindful of fraud. For example, higher CPM could mean more attempts at skewing performance. GroundTruth partners with DoubleVerify for CTV Fraud prevention which is MRC accredited.
Ad Choice: While there are fewer OTT and CTV options for creatives compared to mobile, CTV and OTT ad formats do provide some advantages. This includes non-skippable ads. Combined with the immersive experience of watching TV, this can be very effective at driving full engagement with viewers.

How to get your CTV and OTT video ads campaigns started with GroundTruth

Offline behavior is one of the most accurate data signals a marketer can employ within their marketing strategies — no matter what media channel they decide to use. The main reason is because it differentiates from a meaningful business related outcome versus aspirational behavior. For those marketers who aren’t using offline behavioral-based marketing solutions, they could be wasting their ad spend on customers who aren’t far along enough in the buyer’s journey to turn into real customers. This is why our approach to all our marketing solutions — including CTV and OTT — are powered by location data insights.

Location + OTT and CTV = Business Growth

Audience Targeting: Audience Targeting: With GroundTruth’s offline behavioral-based audiences you can reach consumers based on hundreds of behavioral and demographic attributes including health enthusiasts, luxury shoppers and demographic data like household income. Use location-based insights to not only identify new audiences but also layer it over your CRM data to retarget your loyal customers. You can also use GroundTruth audiences to re-engage your lapsed customers or for conquesting.
Geo-targeting: Marketers with multiple locations across the country can activate OTT and CTV video ad campaigns based on specific geographical areas such as state, DMA, or even zip codes. GroundTruth also offers a unique solution called weather triggering, which allows for creatives to dynamically change based on current weather and forecasted conditions and weather. For example: Based on weather conditions, your video ad creative would dynamically change from advertising sunglasses when it is sunny, to advertising umbrellas when it is raining or forecasted to rain.
Measurable Results: Understand the impact of your OTT and CTV campaigns through metrics such as foot traffic attribution, impression, reach, and video completion rate. These performance metrics can help optimize current and future campaigns.
Premium Brand Safe Inventory: Activate your media on premium quality inventory. Groundtruth will only serve ads on curated inventory.
Fraud Prevention Solutions: We care about the integrity of your branding. That’s why we partner with DoubleVerify to safeguards against SSAI abuse, fraudulent apps, falsified user/device data, and non-stop ads.
Omnichannel: You can leverage OTT and CTV video ad solutions through GroundTruth’s Ads Manager platform, or Managed Service. Marketers have the ability to run mobile, desktop, CTV, and OTV campaigns in one place.

GroundTruth Creative Formats and Specs

Format Max Length Resolution File Size Aspect Ratio
mp4, mov 30 seconds Min. 1280x720px
Max. 1920x1080px
< 50MB 16:9

As consumers continue to change their TV habits and shift their consumption towards OTT content, it’s important for marketers to understand the benefits of using this growing medium to engage consumers at greater scale than traditional mediums. What once seemed complicated and unaffordable to most, is becoming more accessible and appealing due to the benefits of addressable targeting and granular reporting.

Through its Ads Manager platform, GroundTruth has delivered on its commitment to provide brands and marketers a simplified buying experience and an unprecedented opportunity to add OTT and CTV to their media mix and drive measurable business outcomes.

Ruben Osorio
Director, Content & Communications Marketing - Sales Marketing