OTT Video Best Practices 


Are you considering investing in over-the-top (OTT) advertising? As the market continues to grow, brands are jumping on the opportunity to advertise using OTT. Thanks to its expanded availability, OTT is more accessible and affordable than traditional linear TV. The quality of your video ads will have an impact on the success of your campaigns, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with OTT video best practices before you dive in.

Let’s begin!
OTT is digital advertising

What is OTT and what are OTT Ads?

Before we talk about best practices, we’ll start with the basics. What is OTT and what are OTT ads? OTT is video content streamed over the internet to a connected device that bypasses traditional TV. If you’ve watched programming on platforms like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime Video, you’ve experienced OTT and OTT advertising. A growing number of people are choosing to watch videos online over traditional TV, with 85% of U.S. households subscribing to a video service.

OTT video ads play while viewers are watching this streaming content. So, does that make OTT ads traditional TV commercials? Not exactly. Think of these as commercials with advanced features. OTT ads offer targeting, interactivity, and cross-device functionality.

Now that you know what OTT and OTT ads are, let’s go over a few OTT video best practices to follow when creating your ads.

If you’d like a deeper dive, check out our page on OTT advertising.
OTT best video practices devices

Format video for different OTT devices

Don’t always assume your TV ads will be viewed on TV screens. OTT can appear across multiple device types including laptops and mobile devices like tablets and cell phones. Use sizing best practices so that all important information, such as your call to action, is immediately viewable on all screen types.

For example:
  • A traditional creative for HDTV measures 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels tall, and a vertical version is 1080 pixels wide x 1920 pixels tall.   
  • Vertical video formats designed for display on smartphones use an aspect ratio that can either be square, or taller than it is wide. 
  • Other creative guidelines like recommended frame rate, format, and file size are determined by the provider.
It’s better to design OTT creative using the correct specs than to retrofit existing TV assets. OTT advertising is premium video; therefore, creative requirements are stricter than other web-based platforms. If your ad doesn’t follow the guidelines, it won’t run.
OTT videos tailored to audience

Keep it short and simple

There are two types of OTT ads – skippable and non-skippable. Although it is tempting to create a long ad packed with detail, OTT videos need to be created knowing that viewers may skip your message. That’s why it’s important to keep ads short and simple.  

We recommend keeping OTT ads around 15 to 30 seconds. These ads perform better and are also more cost-effective than 60-second ads. With a shorter timeframe to get your message across, you’ll need to hook the audience right away. This can be accomplished by faster pacing, tighter framing, voiceovers, engaging visuals, and bold headlines.

OTT video tailored to audience

Tailor content to your audience

With the personalized targeting available with OTT advertising, viewers expect relatable and personable content. If you want your audience to respond to your message, you need to understand them. OTT offers targeting based on demographics like age, behaviors, location, and interests. Use this to your advantage.

Who are they, where do they live, what do they like? When and on which devices are they most likely to engage with your ads? Personalization continues to remain a key to success. Use customer data and segmentation to create conversations at the times and places those audiences are most likely to respond.

How to run an A/B test: split your audience.

Try A/B testing

To see which ads are moving the needle, you should test, test, test your creatives. Try running an A/B test to see which videos perform the best. A partner can help you set up an A/B test and help you analyze which ideas are winners with your audience.

Some A/B variables you could test are:

  • Call to action (CTA) 
  • Casting talent that’s relatable to your target audience  
  • Different messaging i.e. product focus vs brand focus
  • Different value propositions
  • Live action vs animated

We know – A/B testing is more costly than running a single ad, and creating multiple concepts takes time. However, if you plan creative production with A/B testing in mind, this can make the process more affordable.


Ready to Start Advertising with OTT?

Are your wheels turning with ideas for your next OTT ad? Staying current on growing advertising trends, like OTT, builds your brand image and lets you reach the millions of viewers who are consuming their favorite streaming content from their tablets, laptops, TVs, and smartphones. But remember – OTT video ads need to follow best practices for maximum impact.

Post wrap up

If you’re interested in OTT but don’t know where to begin, our OTT experts can evaluate the potential of OTT and your business.