The Truth Behind Impressions on OTT Services

Dennis Izzard

Dennis Izzard About The Author

February 2, 2021 at 10:56 AM

The Truth Behind Impressions on OTT Services

One of the biggest challenges facing any business looking to reach consumers is connecting and engaging. One of the newest marketing tools that address this dilemma is OTT, and it's quickly becoming one of the most effective marketing channels around. A growing number of people watch videos online instead of traditional TV, with the average household in the U.S. subscribed to at least three different streaming services. Streaming platforms include everything from YouTube and Hulu to HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

Advertising on OTT can be the key to getting your brand in front of many people, but it's essential to understand what impressions are and why they're important to help you bid on placements, set your goals, and measure the results. Here's some insight into OTT impressions and how it can help you develop your next ad campaign.

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OTT Impressions

In OTT advertising, impressions are the number of times an ad appears in front of viewers. Impressions can help you measure your reach, but they also don't consider how many people watched the ad or took action after seeing it. When buying programmatic advertising through OTT, advertisers can bid on a certain number of impressions on a particular platform. With this advertising method, you can ensure your budget is equipped with a set amount of impressions that are only calculated when people are watching. In many cases, advertisers pay for OTT ads based on CPM, or cost per thousand impressions.

Skippable vs. Non-Skippable OTT Ads

The value of impressions will largely depend on the types of ads you purchase. If your ads are skippable, people will likely miss out on hearing what you have to say. Usually, the impression stills counts after the ad has played for a couple of seconds. On the other hand, non-skippable ads have a higher completion rate since people have to watch the ad in its entirety. Skippable and non-skippable ads can be valuable for a brand depending on the campaign and platform, but the purity of impressions will be higher with non-skippable ads.

Avoiding OTT Fraud Involving Impressions

Impressions are typically calculated using tamper-proof cryptography, as each impression is both digitally signed and verified to prevent impersonation and spoofing. Unfortunately, there are specific ways scammers have taken advantage of connected television (CTV) ads to get advertisers to pay for false impressions. In December, an article in The Wall Street Journal helped expose the biggest CTV ad fraud operation ever undertaken. Oracle uncovered the fraud, which involved 3,400 connected TV devices, 3,600 apps, and 28.8 million households in the U.S. The scam, called "StreamScam," specifically took advantage of certain flaws in CTV ad-serving tech to trick advertisers into buying ads that never actually played. The fraud did this by spoofing the IP addresses of those above mentioned 28.8 million households.

Scams like these are why it's crucial to only purchase OTT ads from companies that advertise strict anti-fraud measures to protect advertisers.

OTT Terminology to Understand

When buying OTT ads, it's essential to know the difference between certain key terms:

  • CTV — CTV devices are connected television devices, which connect TV screens to the internet. CTV devices can include dongles, gaming consoles, sticks such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and built-in hardware within smart TVs.
  • FEP — FEP stands for full-episode player, a type of player that can appear on both apps and web browsers to play professionally produced video ads.
  • Pre-roll — Pre-roll ads are OTT ads that play before streaming content begins, usually for around 30 seconds to a minute. Other types of OTT ads may play throughout a video or even at the end, but pre-roll ads are some of the most effective and attention-grabbing.

Why Impressions Are Important

Impressions are critical when bidding for OTT ads since they can indicate how many people are likely to view your ads. Impressions are significant if you want to launch ads in a brand awareness campaign since they show reach. OTT impressions are often more valuable than TV commercials because OTT ads only play when users are streaming videos. Non-skippable ads are particularly valuable when buying based on impressions, as they force viewers to watch those ads to completion before continuing streaming content.

What You Need to Know

OTT impressions can help you gauge how many households you can reach with your ads, with the ability to hyper-target them. While there are measures to protect advertisers against impression fraud, scams can still take place. So it's vital to do what you can to find platforms that have strict anti-fraud protocols in place. With the right providers and a clear window into impressions, you can gauge whether OTT ads are worth the purchase based on your budget.

With high-quality OTT ads that appear on popular platforms and networks, you can maximize your brand's reach and connect with millions of consumers. You can increase brand awareness and significantly boost sales when using them in combination with TV ads and other digital advertising efforts.

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