OTT Advertising vs Traditional TV Advertising: What’s the Difference?

As the era of cable television is slowly coming to an end, OTT advertising is on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about OTT vs traditional TV advertising.

Before the VCR or the DVR, sitting through television commercials was a way of life for anyone watching television.

Commercial advertising has been a significant source of revenue for networks. Traditional TV advertising provided a captive audience for companies to promote products and services.

Today, cable television has lost steam while streaming services gain momentum. As a result, traditional advertising doesn’t have the same impact compared to OTT advertising.

If you’re an advertiser, here’s what you need to about OTT vs. traditional TV advertising.

What is OTT Advertising?

The term “OTT” stands for “over-the-top.” Streaming television services deliver content over the internet through a device. Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and Google Chromecast are common streaming devices.

Traditional television programming comes to your television through a cable connection.

When it comes to OTT advertising, this term references advertising delivered via streaming television services.

Many streaming services provide ad-free viewer experiences. Netflix and Hulu are some common OTT examples of paid streaming services that eliminate advertising.

However, other free streaming services like Sony Crackle, Tubi, and Pluto TV deliver free content containing ads. The advertisements allow you to view the content for free.

What’s Great About OTT?

With OTT advertising, you have greater flexibility with your advertising dollars than what traditional television advertising can provide.

There are many benefits to OTT advertising—here are a few to consider.


One of the great benefits of OTT advertising is the ability to target your audience.

Streaming content allows you to collect significant data about viewers. OTT advertising can go beyond traditional metrics like location, gender, or age.

You can distribute messages to viewers by specific segments using criteria that include zip code, education level, income level, and ethnicity.

Getting specific with your audience through OTT advertising can help improve your advertising ROI.

Always On

With traditional television, you purchase time slots during programming. Your audience only sees your ad if they watch TV when the ad runs. Chances are, if they DVR a show when your ad runs, they fast-forward through the commercials.

OTT advertising delivers your ad whenever a viewer watches the show—no matter when or where they watch.

Many streaming services also remove the “fast-forward” function during ads.

Viewers are more likely to see an ad specific to their wants or needs when you choose OTT advertising.

Creative Content

You might notice that OTT ads seem shorter than traditional TV commercials. In many cases, they are.

Digital viewers have a short attention span. Short, creative, high-quality ads work well for OTT advertising.

Streaming platforms can often offer more options to deliver creative content. It’s possible to think further outside the box (and get more creative) with OTT compared to traditional advertising.

Take Advantage of OTT vs. Traditional TV Advertising

Streaming services will continue to take over the “air” waves. It’s a perfect time for marketers to take advantage of OTT vs. traditional TV advertising.

You’ll benefit from targeting your audience and getting creative!

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