Blog CTV vs. OTT explained for app marketers

CTV vs. OTT explained for app marketers

OTT vs. CTV, that is, over-the-top versus connected TV, is important to understand if you wish to venture into the realm of advertising on streaming content. While these terms are closely related, they are not interchangeable. Here’s a handy breakdown of CTV vs. OTT for growth marketers, with insight into why now is the time to advertise on CTV.

OTT/CTV definitions

Over-the-top (OTT) describes the process of streaming video, audio, or messaging content “over-the-top” of the internet. The most popular OTT platforms include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, YouTube, and Disney+.

Connected TV (CTV) is the term used for any TV set connected to the internet, including TV sticks, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

So, what is the difference between OTT and CTV?

The difference between OTT and CTV is that OTT is a method of delivering streaming, and CTV is an internet-connected device on which a user can stream the content delivered by the OTT service. For example, the OTT platform Hulu delivers streaming content to a viewer over their Samsung Smart TV, which is a CTV device.


CTV vs. OTT examples

To best understand the difference between CTV and OTT, consider the examples of each below.

Examples of OTT platforms: YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max

Examples of CTV devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Xbox

Review these scenarios to help you further distinguish CTV vs. OTT:

  • If a viewer watches a show on Netflix on their smartphone or laptop, they’re consuming OTT content.
  • If a viewer watches a show on Netflix on their Apple TV, they’re utilizing a CTV device to stream OTT content.
  • If a viewer watches a show on Netflix using their Xbox, they’re using a CTV device to stream OTT content.

What about OTT vs. CTV advertising?

Remember, ads on CTV are a subset of all the possible OTT ads. The biggest difference in OTT vs. CTV advertising is that CTV ads can only be served on internet-connected TV screens while OTT ads can also be served via mobile and desktop.

This has several implications when comparing CTV vs. OTT advertising.

Ad formatting

Typically, OTT advertising utilizes pre-roll ads and other video advertising shown to viewers as they stream, but CTV ads are usually placed alongside shows and apps on the viewers’ connected devices.

Viewer experience

CTV is replacing linear TV in homes across the globe and is now synonymous with a “large-screen” viewing experience. Because viewers are watching content on CTV in a more relaxed environment, ad tolerance is typically higher than that on mobile devices. As viewers consume OTT ads on desktop and mobile on smaller screens, these ads tend to have lower ad recall than those on CTV, especially as many of these ads can be skipped.

User interaction

Related to the above, users can tap or click on OTT ads on mobile and desktop devices to go to a brand’s website or app. In contrast, most CTV ads aren’t currently clickable, although many marketers find success using QR code marketing on CTV ads. However, this may soon change as the technology we see in CTV shoppable content expands to other verticals, making one-click user journeys on CTV possible.

Deep dive: Want to learn more about CTV advertising? Get our guide on how to Unlock connected TV.

CTV guide for app marketers

Why marketers should care about CTV and OTT advertising

Let’s go beyond the difference between CTV and OTT to the benefits of OTT: CTV advertising. Learn why CTV is a performance channel worth adding to your marketing mix. We’re narrowing our focus to CTV here, but if you’d like, we have other resources dedicated to mobile app marketing or advertising on PC and console.

1. The CTV market is growing

In 2023, global CTV ad revenue increased by 13.2% from the year before, reaching US$26 billion. This growth is expected to continue, with ad spend in 2028 predicted to exceed US$42 billion. Advertisers are flocking to CTV likely due to the increase in global CTV penetration combined with the skyrocketing popularity of ad-supported subscriptions.

For example, the share of global Netflix subscribers opting for the ad-supported tier is expected to go from 7% in 2023 to 58% by 2027. This figure not only indicates that consumers are willingly accepting ads in return for a lower subscription price but also that there will be greater demand for CTV ads. For a better understanding of the maturing CTV landscape and the benefits of CTV for app marketers, download our ebook Mastering CTV in 2023.

2. Your mobile app users are already streaming

Did you know that 87% of U.S. households have at least one CTV device? This figure is indicative that a significant portion of your target audience is streaming content on a CTV device. This makes dual-screening advertising, which is the practice of targeting an audience that’s interacting with your content on more than one screen, easy to pursue to drive conversions.

3. CTV targeting and measurement capabilities are already powerful

In contrast to advertising on traditional TV, in which ads are simply shown to the masses, CTV provides advertisers with more precise targeting capabilities. On CTV, advertisers can target users via contextual advertisers, look-alike audiences, viewers of a specific intent, persona, location, and/or demographic, and more! Targeting on CTV allows app marketers to reach users that would have been unreachable previously.

And to keep track of your targeting and marketing efforts, CTV measurement solutions, like Adjust’s CTV AdVision, let marketers obtain an accurate view of CTV ad performance to prove the ROI of their marketing efforts on the channel.

Adjust and OTT, CTV advertising

Adjust is the leading mobile measurement and analytics platform for CTV, having been the first to market with our award-winning comprehensive CTV measurement solution, CTV AdVision. Anticipating the growth of cross-device marketing and the rapid rise of streaming, we’ve built a robust attribution solution that meets our clients’ measurement needs, spanning channels, platforms, and devices—including CTV. We also offer one of the broadest CTV partner coverages among MMPs.

How to use CTV AdVision for your OTT: CTV advertising needs:

  • Measure CTV campaign impact on mobile apps.
  • See the influence of CTV campaigns on your other campaigns.
  • Determine the impact of CTV app campaigns.
  • Create QR codes for CTV directly in the Adjust dashboard.

Want to see how CTV AdVision can help you succeed in your OTT/CTV campaigns? Get your demo now to talk to one of our experts!

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