Connected TV 15 Min Read

What is OTT Advertising? Here’s All You Need to Know

Written by Melissa Yap

OTT, CTV, AVOD, SVOD…what do these all mean? Put your ad tech dictionary away. Whether or not you want to solidify your understanding, get a better grip of the terminology, or have a massive case of FOMO – we’ve got you. 

What is OTT Advertising? 

We covered this in our recent OTT versus CTV Advertising blog post, which refers to access to TV content using an internet connection instead of traditional cable or satellite. This content isn’t limited to TV only, but on any device that runs on internet connection:

  • Mobile
  • Desktop
  • Tablet
  • Laptop
OTT Advertising - Ecosystem

OTT content is at its most optimum – from a branding and performance perspective – when viewed on TV in the comfort of your living room, but more about that later.

How Does it Work?

Like any other direct response channel – except with the immersive experience unique only to television. We delve into this further in the section below, but OTT ad platforms like SteelHouse Performance TV lets brands set up audience targeting, measure who is viewing an advertisement and then view how this stacks up against their other digital marketing efforts. It also works cross-device, meaning that the platform tracks users visiting your brand’s website after viewing the OTT ad and serves relevant display-ads along their journey until they finally convert on your website. 

SteelHouse Performance TV offers superior reporting capabilities which tracks ad-side metrics like ad completion and website visits, as well as the popular measures of ROI including ROAS, CPV and conversions.

Why is This Type of Advertising Effective?

OTT advertising is a game changer, as it is a performance channel in every meaning of the word. It bridges the gap from being a pure branding exercise (on Linear TV) to one that can also be measured and tracked. Some of these platforms pride themselves on their data-driven approach, while others claim to be at the forefront of precision targeting. SteelHouse Performance TV addresses all of the concerns a performance marketer may have, packaged in a single user-interface: 

  • Raises the Bar for Creative and Content Delivery

Three words: Living Room Quality (LRQ). We acknowledge that OTT isn’t only limited to TV, but across other internet-connected devices. However, LRQ serves ads exclusively on TV devices as we know that this device is superior to other devices in terms of ad experience. Inventory that isn’t served on TV screens isn’t true OTT advertising, and when marketers spend their budget on it they’re not getting their money’s worth. SteelHouse Living Room Quality serves 15 or 30 second non-skippable ads to deliver a premium ad experience.

OTT ads - Traditional digital devices have the greatest reach but CTV devices overall are growing rapidly
  • Brand Safe, Fraud Free and Top Tier Inventory

Serving any advertisement on low-quality inventory dilutes the impact of even the most compelling of advertisements – and is a huge waste of marketing dollars. A sweeping majority of advertisers agree that this is a huge concern of any brand, too:

OTT advertising - 77% of brands say brand safety is a key priority

We’ve selected only premium TV networks that we know are aligned to your brand, audience and specifically hand-picked to drive performance. These are 125+ reliable networks that we’ve all grown to know and love, like CNN, CNBC, Food Network, and more.

  • Targeting and Tracking

Where OTT advertising shines is in its reporting and targeting capabilities. SteelHouse Performance TV partners with the leading data provider, the Oracle Data Cloud, giving advertisers access to over 40,000 third-party audience segments. You can also use first-party data from your own website visitors and reach them with retargeting ads both on their other devices and OTT. View the reports and analytics for these as they happen in real-time on our reporting dashboard – better yet, see how these perform in relation to your other digital marketing efforts through our integration with Google Analytics to get a holistic view of your campaign. These are some of the (many) metrics that can be tracked:

  • How many people viewed your advertisement?
  • How many viewers visited your website after viewing your advertisement? 
  • Which OTT device is driving more view-through conversions?
  • What does a typical user journey look like from top of the funnel through to bottom of the funnel – across OTT, other OTT-supported devices and my other digital marketing channels in this campaign? 

These metrics can all be viewed on our reporting interface, and in any permutation to show those metrics that matter most to your brand.

How Long Does it Take to Launch an OTT Ad?

As long as you have your ad created within the right specifications, then you’re ready to launch your campaign in four simple steps

  1. Upload your ad creative
  2. Set your targeting parameters
  3. Make your campaign memorable through related display ads across your other devices to keep your brand’s message top of mind
  4. Choose your budget, campaign goals and launch date

How is it Superior to Other Digital Marketing Channels?

We created an entire content series dedicated to this very topic, comparing OTT advertising to well known players in the programmatic space like YouTube, Demand Side Platforms (DSP), Linear TV, Display-Only and Video Ads. Apart from the inventory, tracking, measurement and overall experience benefits – attribution is a priority for performance marketers and they should be wary of how this is measured on other OTT ad platforms. 

OTT ads - Change in company's prioritization of marketing attribution to US marketing professionals, June 2017

A legitimate performance marketing channel should be as transparent as possible, and SteelHouse Performance TV addresses this need through its accurate attribution capabilities via its proprietary Cross-Device Verified Visits feature. Cross-Device Verified Visits is our proprietary technology that measures any user visits to your site following the guaranteed in-view display of your ads, in a window of time defined by you. That means you’ll know when someone views your OTT ad to completion, and what device they use to convert. And since it only takes credit if the original ad was viewed to completion, it ensures it was your ad that initially prompted the sales journey. 

Are OTT Ads Vertical Specific? Which Categories Stand to Benefit Most?

Nope, it is entirely vertical agnostic, and benefits many categories. We  have worked with global movie studios looking to drive brand awareness for their latest releases, through to retailers and F&B (food and beverage) brands. Any brand with a website or online presence to drive traffic, is a suitable candidate. 

Nowadays, the majority of consumers (48%) go ‘straight to the source’ and buy direct from brands. This, combined with the fact that 75% of households now own a OTT device, is a compelling case for OTT advertising. These consumers are digital-natives at heart and are used to consuming information (and purchasing) cross device, which is one of the reasons why so many advertisers show interest in it as a marketing channel. Read up on some of the Case Studies on our site to learn more about how our customers have found great success advertising on Connected TV.

What Kind of Campaigns Can You Run With OTT Ads?

Pick your poison – prospecting or retargeting? Whichever (or it could be both) one you choose, SteelHouse Performance TV offers a solution for both:

  • Extend your retargeting with Audience Extension: The ad experience doesn’t just end with an OTT ad – this is only the beginning! Once this ad is served, our technology then tracks the other devices (including desktop and mobile) and serves related display ads to them to continue to engage and immerse the viewer with your brand.
  • Audience Extension as a prospecting play: Our Audience Extension feature is flexible to your needs, and not only works for retargeting efforts but also for attracting potential new customers. Tap into over 70,000+ third-party audience segments through our partnership with leading data provider Oracle Data Cloud, to narrow or widen your targeting efforts.

How Do I Buy OTT Ads?

OTT ads can be bought in two ways:

  1. Direct-buy through a publisher: Otherwise known as “walled gardens“, which are closed eco-systems (such as Amazon Prime Video), who control their own operations and priced as a set-fee.
  2. Programmatic buys: These are real-time bids across a network of OTT advertising inventory and are usually priced lower than a direct-buy. For example, when you set up a campaign with SteelHouse Performance TV, the software will automatically place these bids on your behalf across our network of 125+ premium publishers, but also ‘choose’ these based on your targeting parameters to efficiently spend your ad dollars and drive value.

If you’re looking for a combination of flexibility and value without having to sacrifice (or worry about) where your content will end up, a programmatic buy is a wise choice.

Can You Share Some Success Stories?

Sure! You’ll find a treasure trove of our customer case studies here, but here are a couple that we’d like to highlight:

  • 48% higher ROAS with SteelHouse Performance TV Retargeting: We partnered with a leading home supply retailer to level up their retargeting efforts. They had originally only used display-retargeting, but this time served related display ads across web and mobile to recent site visitors—as well as to viewers who had seen their Performance TV ad. The combination of multiple platforms of devices drove site visits more efficiently than display-retargeting and outperformed not only on ROAS, but on Cost Per Visit and Conversions.
  • 20% higher revenue versus one of our top competitors: Some friendly rivalry never goes astray, especially when we come up on top. A luxury e-commerce retailer approached us for some support with their display retargeting efforts, and we did a head-to-head test with one of our competitors to see which one performed better. We drove 20% higher revenue at comparable spend levels, drove 6x longer average session durations and a 680% higher e-commerce conversion rate – in fact, the retailer had to end the test two weeks early as we generated results much faster than anticipated.
  • 50% lower CPA with SteelHouse Performance TV Retargeting: A leading non-profit education institution have been an ongoing customer of ours, and usually relied on our display retargeting solutions to drive enrolments and student applications. However, they wanted a new way of getting in front of a wider audience pool, so added on our Audience Extension feature to ensure their ads were top of mind. This happened to be their best performing campaign since launch and drove the lowest CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) compared to their display-only retargeting campaigns, and cut their total average CPA by 50% across all their retargeting efforts. 

What Types of Results Can I Expect from OTT Advertising?

We don’t call ourselves a performance marketing platform for nothing. We’ve run the numbers across the board and are proud to report some solid averages. Note that campaign results vary and may be impact by budget, type of industry and time of year.

  • 3x ROAS
  • $6 Cost Per Site Visit
  • $0.03 Cost Per Completed View
  • 1.82% Site Visit Rate

As you can imagine, we’ve only scratched the surface here, and our team is at the ready to answer any further questions you may have. If there’s something you’d like to clarify further, or if there are any challenges you’re facing in your current digital campaign strategy, we’re here to help. Try out the platform for yourself by filling out the form here and one of our team members will be in touch.