The world of media has evolved dramatically in the past few years, and one of the biggest shifts (and greatest opportunities) is in the world of television, where new ways for consumers to enjoy TV content are creating new methods for brands to connect with their audiences.

Over-the-Top content (via streaming services, like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video) and Connected TV (think devices, like Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku and video game consoles) have given marketers the ability to deliver brand-building, emotionally driven advertising through a medium truly tailored and targeted to reach the precise audiences they want to reach en masse. And because viewers opt to watch in these environments, their willingness to view ads is surprisingly high.

Some advertisers may be concerned these platforms are still reaching a relatively small audience. But Over-the-Top (OTT) services now reach 71 percent of U.S. internet users, and Connected TV (CTV) reaches an estimated 74 percent of all U.S. households — numbers that are only projected to grow in the coming years.

The biggest benefit of OTT/CTV is that it offers more precise targeting like other digital media formats, including paid social or display (banner) ads. Not only demographic or contextual targeting, but also third-party targeting based on offline and online data, such as credit card information, subscription services, location data, loyalty programs, browsing behavior or search history. At this time, CTV targeting capabilities are more robust than OTT, though third-party data can help bridge this gap.

Even B2B advertisers can reach an audience based on industry, job title, company size and more. So, depending on your campaign objectives, you could target the precise universe of people who are currently in the market for your product or service.

The other benefits of OTT/CTV are equally substantial. For instance, unlike traditional (linear) TV, the ads are not skippable and are served in a less cluttered environment (typically two commercials per 30 minutes vs. eight for broadcast), so viewership and engagement are much higher. There’s also an opportunity to target hard-to-reach audiences, such as “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers” in streaming-only households. And like other digital media, marketers can track and optimize OTT/CTV media for peak performance.

For most brands, TV advertising remains the best vehicle for driving mass awareness, affinity and credibility. But for brands that have a more targeted audience or want to be able to follow (and retarget) their audience through the digital space, OTT/CTV can provide a great opportunity to make your media buy work harder and smarter. In this age of continuing fragmentation, we’re advising clients to develop an overall video strategy that considers OTT and CTV right along with linear TV for maximum reach and effectiveness.