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What is Over-The-Top Advertising and Why Your Business Should Be Using It?

by Brian Colling - May 14, 2019

What is OTT Advertising and Why Your Business Should Be Using It?

Over-the-top advertising — no, it’s not advertising that’s just too much. Over-the-top advertising refers to over-the-top media, which encompasses streaming media services: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and YouTube, to name a few. Over-the-top (OTT) media services generate a significant amount of advertising-based revenue, and that presents an excellent opportunity for those looking to grow their advertising campaigns in non-traditional ways. 

Here’s what you need to know about OTT advertising, and why your business should be using it:

OTT Media is a Growing Industry — and It Shows No Signs of Stopping

Cord cutters are everywhere. Millennials aren’t watching cable anymore: they’re watching streaming video services instead. Television advertising has long been one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, forms of advertising out there. That advertising audience is now moving to OTT media, as the technology becomes more viable, and more money is invested into content.

Many over-the-top media services generate the bulk of their revenue through advertising, and consequently, they have robust platforms designed to help third-party advertisers promote themselves on their service. This is a far more intuitive, easily accessible process than advertising through traditional commercials. Anyone can place an ad on OTT media today, especially the more casual platforms such as YouTube.

OTT Media Has Access to Detailed Demographic Information

When you place a commercial on a television or cable station, you’re just sending it out to their audience and hoping that their demographic matches yours. That’s not true for over-the-top media. Over-the-top media services have access to detailed information about their audiences, such as their age, gender, interests, and hobbies. 

OTT media can use that to target your advertising, so you aren’t just sending out your ads to everyone on the platform: you’re sending out your ads to the demographics that are most likely to be interested in your product or service. You simply cannot do this with a cable station: with a cable station, you pay for the ad and it goes out to a broad audience.

OTT Media is Where the Millennials and GenZ Are

If your advertising campaign is targeted towards those aged 15 to 45, you’re more likely to find them on OTT Media than cable. For the 45+ demographic, cable is still popular. This means that OTT media gives you an inherent ability to target a core demographic: you can easily find those who are interested in your product just by using a different platform. It also means that OTT media is going to increasingly become more relevant, while cable increasingly becomes less relevant.

OTT Media Gives You Feedback on Your Campaign Dollars

With OTT media advertising, you will immediately know how well your campaign is faring. You can see how many people have engaged with your ad, how many people have skipped it, and whether people have watched the whole thing. This is a level of information that goes beyond what you can receive through other venues, such as radio or television advertising.

Even email advertising doesn’t tell you how long someone considered your email for, or exactly how much information they received, but OTT media can tell you how much of your content was actively consumed. This detailed information can be included in your marketing campaign metrics and used to improve upon your advertising. 

OTT Media Offers Engaging, New Types of Advertising

While over-the-top advertising is often in the form of commercials, it doesn’t have to be: there are other options. Polls, for instance, can be used to get more information from your audience, which can then be used to improve upon your products and services. Any type of engagement usually improves your relationship with potential customers, so something as simple as a survey can improve your brand awareness. 

When you advertise on over-the-top media, you can also integrate your ads into the platform itself. As an example, YouTube advertisers can connect directly to their YouTube channel. These are ways to further increase engagement, by encouraging your audience to follow your company even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase. 

OTT Media is a Cost-Effective Advertising Option

With OTT media, you can pay as much for your advertising as you want. You have the option of setting your budget: from there, the media platform will serve your ads until you run out of your budget. From there, you can examine the ROI of your individual campaigns and determine whether they’re bringing in enough money to justify the cost.

Compared to radio advertising and television advertising, OTT advertising is extremely affordable. OTT advertising is similar to paid advertising, where often you don’t pay anything unless your ad is clicked on or interacted with. 

OTT Media is Available on Multiple Platforms

Today, people stream everywhere: on their computers, phones, and televisions. And that’s important, because most people now block things like banner ads on their computers, but a significantly lower audience blocks ads on their phones and their televisions. If you’re finding your PPC and paid advertising campaigns low in engagement, consider advertising on OTT media instead.

Consumers are frequently interested in blocking ads, and they will usually block ads if it’s easy to do. Smart televisions and smartphones don’t make blocking advertising easy, and that’s why these platforms are frequently being targeted by marketers.

OTT Media Makes Engagement and Commitment Easy

Over-the-top media makes it easy to click a button and make a purchase, go to a store, or simply find out more information. In fact, it usually has that type of “Call to Action” baked into the advertising campaign itself. Email campaigns, cable campaigns, and radio campaigns all require more work on behalf of the customer. More work always means lower engagement.

With OTT media, you can encourage your audience to immediately click on a button to learn more about your product, or “like” or “follow” to improve the sharing and the engagement on your page or post. All of this is going to improve upon your marketing metrics.

OTT Media Demands Attention

We’ve compared OTT media a lot to traditional cable, but OTT media is also often more effective than traditional banner ads, email advertisements, and other online options. Why? Because it can’t be easily blocked, the way that banners are, and because it happens when an audience is giving the screen active attention: when they’re actively watching something. And while viewers can “skip” an ad on OTT media occasionally, many platforms don’t let them skip all ads.

Key Takeaways

Over-the-top media is only growing, and there are a number of platforms to choose from if you want to broaden your advertising landscape. By allowing for exceptionally well-targeted, cost-effective advertising, OTT media has made a marketing environment that is friendlier to the average business than traditional television advertising, while remaining more effective than many online channels.

Of course, OTT media advertising shouldn’t be used alone: it should be used in a cross-channel advertising campaign. By combining OTT advertising with social media advertising, email advertising, and content marketing, you should be able to create a comprehensive, robust marketing campaign that improves your brand awareness and encourages growth.

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