There Is a Difference Between OTT and CTV

Amrita Hemdev
By Amrita Hemdev
January 31, 2019

The ad tech and media industries are talking about over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) right now, but these terms are often confused with one another or used interchangeably by advertisers, media agencies, marketers, brands, and TV or ad tech professionals.

There’s big money riding on these definitions!

With all the TLAs (three-letter acronyms) that we love to apply in the ad tech and TV industry, it is a smart idea to understand the difference between CTV and OTT. For TV buyers, these definitions are fundamental, as it directly influences the way you transact across various platforms, technologies, and devices.

So, how do we differentiate between the two terms?

OTT stands for ‘over the top’ and refers to video content that’s being streamed directly through the internet on a laptop, mobile device, tablet, or connected TV and doesn’t require users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service like Comcast or Time Warner Cable. In other words, using OTT services, users don’t need to pay for a cable television subscription to access video content.

CTV stands for ‘connected TV’ and refers to a television device that has a built-in connection to the internet or a television that is paired with a device that is connected to the internet, like an Apple TV or a Roku.

OTT content is often delivered through CTV, although it can also be accessed from connected mobile devices and computers.

CTVs connect to the internet to stream OTT content that viewers access and control through applications. A traditional TV can easily transform into a CTV with the addition of gaming consoles and multimedia devices like Roku or Apple TV (or any other device that allows that TV to display OTT content).

Simply put, OTT is a delivery mechanism for video content, and CTV is a type of device that displays OTT content to viewers.


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OTT advertising is the future of TV advertising.

OTT ads can be shown before, during, or after watching the OTT video content that the viewer has selected to watch.

Advertising through OTT grants access to the living room, where families spend time together, often independent of what’s on at the moment. Also, unlike a browser screen, OTT video ads tend to be displayed full-screen and are non-skippable.

Viewers are continuing to migrate to streaming services year-over-year, giving advertisers a scaling opportunity to reach users with their ad campaigns. This viewer trend, combined with the targeting power backed by digital data, is influencing advertiser budgets to increasingly shift from traditional TV over to advertising-supported OTT video content services like Sling TV and TubiTV.

OTT advertising revenues are quickly gaining ground to match and eventually surpass TV ad revenues.

SlingTV, Roku, and FuboTV are examples of digital services where OTT ads are played.

The ZypMedia Blog reports on OTT advertising trends and information. Subscribe to the blog to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in this quickly changing industry.

 The OTT and CTV industry is continuously changing and growing. Whatever happens, it provides a great opportunity for media agencies and advertisers looking to reach more and engaged and targeted users.

Incorporate OTT advertising into your mix to better segment the market, build your user base, reach a new set of customers, and offer a more diverse experience than ever before.  

ZypMedia specializes in local OTT digital video advertising. We can help you and your organization place OTT ads in front of your audience while helping you drive sales and generate a positive ROI.

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Picture of Amrita Hemdev

Amrita Hemdev

Amrita is an inbound marketer. She studied marketing and project management at UC Berkeley and proceeded to work in a fast-paced, digital advertising tech startup, with a goal of increasing brand awareness. She is currently the Content Marketing Specialist at ZypMedia. Passionate about digital marketing and having six years of experience in this field, she also started her digital marketing and creative agency, Sociato, based in India.