Are You Buying Pure OTT Ads?

Amrita Hemdev
By Amrita Hemdev
March 13, 2019

You’ve done some research and you understand what OTT is and why advertisers are excited about it, but how do you know if you’re buying the best OTT inventory from reputable providers?

OTT is a broad term, and as a representative acting in the best interest for your clients, it’s important for you to understand the quality of the inventory you are selling to them.

Are you making sure that your ads are delivered on pure OTT?

OTT advertising is not the same as other types of online video advertising, like pre-roll video advertising. OTT ads are primarily shown on a TV screen through a smart or a connected TV, and can also be viewed on desktop or mobile, whereas online video ads are played before user-initiated content online and viewed primarily on desktop or mobile.

OTT advertising inventory ranges in quality and is sometimes sold alongside cable-subscribed VOD ads or a mix of pre-roll ads. If this strategy is used to meet delivery requirements, it should be reflected in the price and the quality of results and reporting.

Depending on your client’s goals, this mixture may or may not be a good fit for their campaign. As a digital seller, you need to understand what you are really buying to reach the right audiences and ensure your client is receiving the services they are paying for.


Understand Your OTT Ad Options

1) A mixture of OTT + Pre-Roll

OTT and pre-roll video ads are intertwined but they are not the same product. OTT is a different channel through which video is delivered to its end users. Sometimes these two types of video ads are mixed into the same campaign and unfairly sold as “OTT”.

Here are some factors and metrics to look at to understand if your ad campaign was 100% OTT or not:

  • eCPM: Blending OTT ads with pre-roll ads leads to a lower eCPM (effective cost per thousand). eCPM is calculated by dividing the number of ad impressions of an ad campaign by the revenue it generated and is expressed in units of 1,000.
  • VCR: A mix of pre-roll and OTT ads generally provides a much lower video-completion-rate (VCR) than pure OTT ads alone. A pure OTT ad campaign provides an industry average VCR higher than 90-98%, whereas a mixture of pre-roll and OTT ads usually ranges anywhere between 50%-80% VCR.
  • Reports: Look for transparency in reporting and billing of ad campaigns that show how much of your campaign was served on OTT vs. non-OTT publishers If the report you’re given does not give you this information, you should ask for it.
  • Devices: If a significant number of impressions are delivered on desktop and mobile with a minimal focus on Connected TV, you may be buying an OTT campaign that is blended with preroll.
  • CTR/Clicks: If your campaign performance reports show clicks and CTR as a metric, your ads may not 100% OTT. Unlike pre-roll, OTT is not yet a clickable environment.
  • Targeting Options: Although both formats offer multiple levels of targeting abilities, pre-roll targeting technology is far more matured than OTT targeting technology. OTT ads are often targeted at the household ID level.

If you are seeking to run a pure, 100% OTT campaign, make sure you ask your ad tech partner these key questions:

Is my campaign running 100% on OTT or is it a blend of pre-roll and OTT impressions?

Why do some of my results show CTR?

Why is the VCR lower than 90%? 


2) Streaming through a connection that requires a cable subscription

In some cases, companies sell streaming ads that are served on platforms that need a cable login.

Pure OTT ads are served only on OTT platforms that require no cable login, extending the campaign reach beyond viewers that already watch ads on traditional cable television. The Roku Channel, Sling TV, FuboTV, and Pluto TV are examples of platforms where pure OTT ads are served. These platforms and apps are used by cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

Here are some features of ads through a cable connection:

  • They reach cable subscribers who are streaming using their cable login.These ads deepen the reach with TV viewers.
  • They deepen the reach with TV viewers.
  • They do not reach cord cutters and cord-nevers, who are no longer subscribing to cable TV.
  • They are limited in scale (limited inventory) and have a limited reach (only reaching cable subscribers).

Ask these questions to your ad tech partner if your intent is to deliver your ads purely on OTT channels that do not need any cable subscriptions:

Am I reaching audiences who are NOT subscribers to one of your cable products?

Am I reaching true cord cutters? 


3) Pure OTT

Pure OTT content is viewed by cord-shavers, cord-cutters and cord-nevers. It is usually watched on their TV sets by leaning back in a living room environment as the content is usually longer format, like a movie.

Characteristics of pure or 100% OTT ads include:

  • The ability to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers who are no longer subscribing to cable TV. These viewers are completely missed with cable/satellite TV advertising.
  • A higher VCR rate. OTT ads are very engaging and usually have 90-95% VCR on an average.
  • 80% and above OTT ads are viewed on a connected TV.
  • No CTR. OTT ads will never have a CTR as a metric to measure as OTT ads are not clickable.


Appeal to your audience as they lean back.

OTT video ads provide an emotional connection with your audience while fully engaging them. As consumers increasingly replace their cable boxes with streaming boxes for their content fix, it’s critical for service providers to be able to target, manage, and run OTT ads.

We suggest media companies look for OTT advertising solution providers who have the right expertise and technology, and are committed to providing value and transparency to the clients by serving ads for which they have signed up and paid for.

ZypMedia OTT ads have access to content through direct publisher access, private marketplaces (PMPs), and on the open exchange when needed for scale.

By adopting OTT into your media mix, you have the power to better segment the market, build your user base, reach a new set of customers, and offer them a more diverse experience than ever before.

ZypMedia specializes in local OTT digital video advertising. We can help you and your organization place pure OTT ads in front of local audiences 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.