To say that OTT is on the rise in 2020 is an understatement. In fact, eMarketer predicts that by 2021, 73.1% of U.S. internet users will be using an OTT video service in some capacity.

This is good news for marketers who are delivering ads through online video streaming and a huge incentive for those who are still dragging their feet.

There are several ways to reach consumers on OTT platforms, which are sure to multiply with time. Below is a breakdown of what OTT marketing is and how brands can incorporate it into their marketing strategy to maximize their reach and return on ad spend (ROAS).

What is OTT marketing?

In case you are completely lost, OTT is the online streaming video distribution of all of the TV shows and movies you’re watching on AppleTV, Netflix, HBO Max, etc.

OTT marketing is simply using video streaming to deliver ads to consumers, which includes connected TV advertising, through video ads, sponsored content, banner ads, and more. But in contrast to traditional TV advertising, OTT marketing allows companies to bypass network distribution controls, which opens up a world of opportunity for more effective ad campaigns. Prior to distribution buying and selling channels like the Trade Desk, there were not easy, automated, or convenient ways to buy streaming commercials (which for all intent and purposes, that’s exactly what OTT ads are).

According to Forrester Consulting, in the next 12 months, nearly 75% of those surveyed expect revenue from OTT content  to grow more than other digital channels.

OTT provides more targeted marketing

OTT allows brands to utilize online data to reach their target audience and minimize ad spend waste. You can decide how and when to deliver messages based on a user’s specific demographic traits, like gender, age, income, and viewing preference to enhance ad relevance and increase engagement.

OTT also tracks consumer behavior, from browsing information to purchase history, to help marketers personalize content further.

“OTT advertising is a viable component of a brand’s performance media mix. Much more than just a branding and awareness play, it is a complete performance channel that offers scale, measurability, and data-driven targeting.”

                                              — Jesse Math, VP of Planning and Platforms at Tinuiti

OTT offers high-quality face time

The term “over-the-top” comes from the ability to avoid controlled media distribution that traditional TV providers had in order to reach audiences directly. Brands now have opportunities to get in front of more viewers without the restriction of pre-planned broadcast schedules and geographic limitations. Brands can also now buy this media in an automated marketplace that bases prices on supply, demand, metric enhancements, and are auction based, much like the stock market.

Better still, since OTT ad inventory is available across all supported devices, brands now have the chance to run ads on popular shows that previously would have been unaffordable on major TV networks. And OTT ads run in real-time- before, during, or after video content and can’t be skipped, so completion rates usually exceed 90%.

But don’t stick around for too long. You want your ad to be primetime material, but it has to be 30 seconds or less to qualify as “non-skippable.”

OTT Retargets viewers across web and mobile traffic

Website retargeting, IP targeting and device ID technologies give marketers the ability to close the loop across channels and stay in front of potential customers. So when brands capture a customer view on their video ad, for example, they can re-target the same customer on their phone or computer.

Not only does this marketing tactic help increase brand awareness, but is more likely to convert the viewer into a paying customer. Google revealed that 74 percent of consumers said their brand recall was better after seeing ads on multiple different platforms.

Note: Make sure your ads are formatted across devices so your value prop and call to action are visible on all screen types.

More precise tracking capabilities

Like any marketing channel, measurement is key to determining the success of your investments. Unlike traditional TV advertising, OTT provides insights to track your marketing efforts. By linking an ad view to a website visit, download, or purchase, marketers can see what works and accurately assess their ROI.


A new era in marketing has begun. This year, OTT advertising spend is expected to hit $9 billion in the US, which is a good sign in terms of growth potential. And as streaming-services continue to evolve and multiply, so will your ability to use targeted, engaging video content to win over your ever-expanding audience.

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