CTV Ad Specs: Everything You Need to Know
Stop the digital press. Netflix recently announced that it’s launching an ad-supported tier, meaning companies have the opportunity to advertise on one of the biggest streaming services in the world. That’s a lot of eyes that could be on your brand.
But before businesses rush to boardrooms, let’s take a few steps back and look at what it means to advertise on a connected television – a CTV, upon which the likes of Netflix are based. There are a handful of specifications and best practices that you should be aware of to guarantee that your CTV content is just as memorable as binge-watching Tiger King throughout the pandemic.
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about CTV ad specs.
What is Connected TV?
Put simply, connected TV is a term to describe devices that can connect to the internet and stream videos. For example, your smart TV is a CTV, as is any television that has a built-in internet connection and has access to media apps like Netflix and Hulu. Gaming consoles are also CTV, as the likes of Xbox and PlayStation have streaming functionalities in their app stores.
Then there are connected devices. Also known as Over-The-Top (OTT) devices, these devices plug directly into a TV to connect it to the internet and stream videos or use apps. Amazon Fire Sticks and Chromecasts are examples of OTT devices.
“What’s the difference between CTV and OTT, then?” we hear you ask. Well, OTT is when video content is streamed from the internet instead of a traditional TV (meaning via broadcast, cable, or satellite). CTV is a subset of OTT but refers more specifically to the actual devices you use to watch OTT content. So, while Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video are OTT platforms, the smart television is the CTV.
CTV Ad Types
There’s a whole host of advertising possibilities when it comes to CTV. Below are a few of the most common and effective ad options.
Pre-roll ads run before the content is streamed and can be made interactive for viewers to be directed toward your targeted destination. For instance, you could opt to include a QR code in the ad, so viewers can easily scan it and arrive at a particular landing page.
In-Stream Video Ads
In-stream video ads are also a brand favorite. These ads typically run between 15 to 30 seconds and are displayed during the content stream, and are unskippable by viewers. You know when you’re watching a YouTube video and an ad suddenly starts halfway through? That’s an in-stream video ad.
Home screen ads are located on the home screen of a CTV device and are normally delivered as a static image or a short video. If there’s an ad playing when you first log in to your CTV device or when your CTV device goes on standby, it’ll be of the home screen ad variety.
Lastly, overlay ads are images or media that cover a portion of the streamed video while it’s playing. These ads are viewed at the same time as the CTV content is shown, and are often paired with companion ads for greater engagement and visibility. Picture-in-picture (PIP) or canvas ads are forms of overlay ads, as they are placed over video content and split the display.
Both pre-roll ads and in-stream video ads are known as linear ads, whereas overlay ads are non-linear.
CTV Ad Specs and Why They Matter
Like any good marketing tactic, CTV ads should follow some specifications to see the biggest possible return on investment. Indulge us for a moment while we put on our Mad Men hats and delve into the specs for CTV ads and why they matter.
Naturally, specs will differ between ad publishers. However, we recommend that you confirm your unique specs before the creative development process to ensure that your ads will be compliant and accepted during trafficking.
For video ads, the following specs are appropriate for the top OTT platforms.
- 10 GB maximum file size
- 15 to 30 seconds duration
- QuickTime, MPEG-4, or QuickTime file type
- 23.98, 25,29.97 FPS frame rate
- 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio
- 25 to 100 MB maximum file size
- 15, 30, or 60 seconds duration
- mp4 file type
- 4:3 aspect ratio
Amazon Prime Video Ads
- 500 MB maximum file size
- 15 or 30 seconds duration
- H.264, MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 file type
- 23.976 frame rate
- 8mbps bitrate
- 16:9 aspect ratio
YouTube CTV Ads
- 1GB maximum file size
- 12 to 15 seconds for non-skippable ads, maximum of 6 minutes for skippable ads
- .mp4, .mpeg, .mov, .asf or .avi file type
- 30fps frame rate
- 16:9 aspect ratio
Remember to use dynamic motion graphics, top-line value props, attribution language, a cohesive narrative, and align with the color palette and messaging of the OTT platforms.
Static ad specifications vary drastically between publishers, so you must confirm the parameters prior to developing the ad. That said, common banner sizes include: 300×250, 468×60, 300×100, 728×90, and 300×60. File size limits are generally between 150 and 200kb, and the most common file types are JPEG or PNG.
If you want to link to external content in your CTV ad (whether video or static), it’s worthwhile following the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Ad Format Guidelines. The resource can be technical, but it’s useful to have a deeper understanding of the landscape and how to optimize your ads.
CTV Ad Creation Best Practices
OK, we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting into the best practices now. Making an ad is like making a piece of art – it requires preparation and lots of craft. Always start with your audience in mind: what kind of device are they watching your ad on? What content resonates with them? What does their historical behavior data tell you about their purchase intent?
Once you’re ready to begin designing, take care to grab people’s attention early. Many viewers will be using multiple screens at once, so you need eye-catching visuals and alluring audio within at least the first five seconds of your ad. The average attention span online is a mere eight seconds, so you have to move fast to capture viewers in this short window. By grabbing people immediately, you’ll be better positioned to guide them through your call to action (CTA). Ultimately, converting them into customers.
Along the way, emphasize your branding. Your logo, URL, and other company elements should consistently be visible in order to construct strong brand awareness among audiences. Of course, your end card (the final screen in your ad) needs to very clearly show your brand name, slogan (if you have one), and highlight your value.
The CTA should be easy to understand and follow; it should also convey a sense of urgency without being aggressive or pushy. Try to create a CTA that is intriguing and reassuring rather than yelling at viewers. Visual elements can bolster your CTA, for example by integrating an avatar, app download icon, or QR code. Likewise, sending users to a tailored landing page from a CTA can give them more information about campaigns. This is a powerful way to place them in the think of your brand.
Time to Launch Your CTV Ad
We suggest spending some time researching and finessing your CTV ad strategy before launching any ads, then running slightly different versions of the ads to test what garners the most traction. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to get creative.
We’ll have our eyes peeled for your ads next time we’re streaming content—likely tonight on the couch with a pint of ice cream after work.