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Getting Down with OTT

April 1, 2019

Are you down with OTT?

Gone are the days of the big TV networks, and here to stay are the days of streaming services. Companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and many more are shifting the power dynamic, ushering in a new age of creative content: Over-the-Top (OTT). Now, broadcast giants are on edge, clamoring for a chance to grab their slice of OTT pie.

What it Means

Before we delve into the effects OTT has had on the resilient and adaptive world of advertising, we must give a quick overview of what it actually is. The name OTT, shorthand for over-the-top, stems from references to any device capable of going “over” a cable/digital converter box—think Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, gaming consoles, and even laptops—bypassing broadcast stations and relying on the internet to stream content. But within this shorthand, there can be confusion. Companies often muddle the waters between OTT and CTV (Connected TV). CTVs are devices connected to the internet—Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, etc…— they allow OTT content to be streamed for your viewing pleasure. True OTT refers to the content streamed through an internet connected device. Your subscription to Netflix or Hulu and the content on those services is a more accurate description of OTT.

Where do advertising and digital marketing come into play? Well, agencies, like Total, are able to hyper-focus ads and personalize them for OTT content subscribers. By using data from a customer’s digital footprint, streaming services are able to track behavior. It’s similar to cookies tracking your browser history. Because OTT content is streamed through the internet, your habits are able to be tracked and information collected. The data accumulated from a subscriber’s internet habits are combined to specifically target ads to consumers. Demographic, behavior, time-of-day, and even geographic location all play a role in creating relatable and effective ad impressions.

So, how do the traditional TV Ads compare to OTT Ads?

TV Ad:

Through rating services, like Nielsen, TV sales associates are able to give a rough estimate and demographics of how many and who your spot will reach. It’s a guessing game really because you never truly know how many or who see your advertisement. When you sell to a TV station, you are sending your advertisement into a nebulous cloud with the hopes of it reaching your target demo and getting results.


This affords a far more direct method of advertising. Instead of casting a wide net, as the world of broadcast TV, OTT content providers are able to specifically target ads by tracking subscribers’ internet habits and patterns, like following a trail of breadcrumbs. This affords businesses with more quality hits compared to the guessing game of TV.

Some streaming services make advertisements a priority over subscribers. Think Hulu—they offer multiple subscription plans for customers that can play multiple ads before a show or none at all—it just depends upon how much you’re willing to pay. Compare this to Cable TV. You’re guaranteed to view commercials if you’re paying for providers like Spectrum or Verizon FiOS, but with OTT services, the amount of ads is limited to none. This gives the viewer more control but also proves a great advantage to advertisers.

And who are these advertisements most effectively reaching? The demographic all companies and advertisers are scrambling to attract: Millennials. By starting the trend of “cutting the cord,” Millennials have shifted the power dynamic and ushered in the Internet Age. This generation is developing spending habits and finding their brand. From hair products to cereal brands, Millennials are developing product loyalty. Cutting the cord is nothing new for this generation, and advertisers have adapted with surprising agility, using streaming services as a tool in predicting the habits of Millennials and hyper-focusing advertisements.

If you’re looking to “get down with OTT,” look no further! Your creative experts and branding specialists at TOTAL are here for you. We’ll get your company on streaming services and hyper-focus your advertisements for quality results.

Contact us today!