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Don’t Miss These 4 Huge OTT Advertising Mistakes

Feb 19, 2021

Over-the-top TV, otherwise known as OTT, has become a major advertising platform for many agencies looking to move beyond traditional television campaigns. Instead of casting a wide net with ad delivery, OTT allows advertisers to narrowly target viewers via the biggest screen in the house. 

Many agencies partner with us to manage their OTT campaigns, and that’s for good reason. OTT has steadily grown in viewership and popularity over the years with original high-quality, platform-native content that draws millions of eyes to the screen. With a sound strategy to reach these viewers, you can reach far more qualified leads and customers than with traditional television advertising. 

First, What is OTT? 

OTT refers to platforms and streaming services like Hulu, PlutoTV, Roku, and FireTV. They contain their own library of subscription on-demand content that viewers can choose from rather than having to opt for whatever occupies a fixed time slot like with traditional cable. 

How Popular is OTT? 

Traditional television has never faced a challenger for viewership quite like OTT. Streaming-native series like Schitt’s Creek and The Handmaid’s Tale captures millions of viewers’ attention on a regular basis and have won Emmy awards for their content quality. Many of these platforms also offer their users a variety of shows that originated on cable but can now be binge-watched through their service instead. 

Many OTT platforms are also more affordable than cable. This has led to a trend called “cord-cutting” where users are replacing their expensive cable bill with a curated set of streaming subscriptions that better-suit their interests for less money. 

Don’t just take our word for it, though. The data also confirms this. In 2010, OTT’s global revenue clocked in at 6.1 billion US dollars. This skyrocketed to 83.34 billion in 2019, up to almost 100 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach over 167 billion by 2025. 

What led to such massive growth? With more people spending time at home in late 2019 and all of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this led to an increase in content consumption as a means of entertainment. OTT platforms can provide on-demand streaming for adults, teens, children, and family programming. 

OTT Platforms 

Each OTT platform has its own advertising and audience targeting capabilities. When we manage campaigns for our agency partners, we align their client’s goals with the platforms that we think will best reach the most qualified viewers. Making this decision depends on a number of factors like demographic data, geographic location, platform features, and more. 

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of how OTT works, let’s cover some mistakes to avoid at all costs when launching your client’s next campaign: 

OTT Advertising Mistake 1: Not Vetting Your Inventory 

As OTT increases in popularity, developers are releasing more streaming apps than ever. With such a high volume of potential platforms to choose from, vetting for top-quality solutions isn’t optional, it’s mandatory. You want to ensure that your ads are served on the most premium OTT platforms rather than ones with limited viewership and targeting capabilities. 

How We Built Top-Performing OTT Advertising Inventory

One part of our jobs that we absolutely love is getting to vet OTT applications for quality inventory availability. Why? We can analyze ad performance while watching great content! But seriously, we aren’t just sitting at our computers watching Hulu all day. In reality, we’re investing countless manually vetting every feature to see which applications meet our standards. 

How do we do this? There are a number of ways that we build our inventory:

  • Manually constructing whitelists and blacklists of OTT platforms based on actual performance 

  • Run each platform and application through a rigorous checklist of quality standards

  • Watching individual channels to ensure content quality 

  • Using Deal IDs – We establish direct deals with exchanges and streaming services based on specific criteria we set to ensure ad placement across top applications. 

Mistake 2: Not Utilizing a Day-Parting Strategy

When running an advertising campaign on OTT platforms, you need to ensure that you are delivering the ad when people are actually watching the content. Without a day-parting strategy in place, you may have no way of knowing if your ads are being served during optimal viewing hours or at 3 a.m. when people are falling asleep on their couches. 

We day-part all of our partners’ OTT campaigns to ensure that ads are only served at times where people are actively watching content. This means the ad appears at moments where viewers are most engaged. 

Mistake 3: Using Too Narrow of a Geo-Target

A “geo-target” refers to a defined area in the form of a city, state, DMA, etc. Individuals within these geographic regions are eligible to receive ads as long as they meet your specific targeting criteria. 

Using too narrow of a geo-target can inhibit your OTT campaign from targeting and reaching the right viewers. This can also result in over-exposing viewers within a narrow area and missing out on potential customers or clients that otherwise could qualify. 

Mistake 4: No Frequency Capping

Running an OTT campaign without a frequency cap can result in oversaturation similar to what can happen if you target too narrow of a geographic area. Without a cap, or one that is too high, you risk serving unlimited ads to the same viewer over and over again. This results in wasted commercials,  inevitably annoying the audience member, and creating a negative brand recall the next time they see your ad. 

Start Your Next OTT Advertising Campaign the Right Way


When your agency is gearing up for your client’s next OTT campaign, invest the time and effort to ensure it does not fall prey to these four common mistakes. Knowing what not to do can provide just as much if not more value than solely abiding by best practices. 

If you prefer to have a team of video experts managing OTT advertising for you, the Conduit Team can do just that! Learn more about how you can partner with us to deliver more value to your client’s future campaigns. 









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