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The Ultimate OTT & Video Streaming Term Glossary

Learn the terms necessary to navigate the world of OTT. Then team up with OTT Studio to dominate with our guidance.


Monetization

Ad Cadence

Ad Cadence is the frequency of ad-breaks specified within a content feed. Broadcast long-form content traditionally has an ad break every 7 minutes, whereas short-form web content may have shorter ad breaks every 3 minutes. Optimizing ad cadence for a minimally interruptive experience can significantly impact view times and user satisfaction.

Ad Call or Request

An Ad Call or Request occurs when content in a streaming service reaches a specified ad break in content resulting in a “call” to deliver ads. Every ad call within a streaming service makes up that service’s ad inventory.

Addressable TV Advertising

Addressable TV Advertising is the ability to display different ads to different users all watching the same live programming based on the household’s demo and psychographics. This form of DAI on the server side (SSAI) is extremely valuable to advertisers, affording them with strong targeting capabilities.

Ad Ops (Ad Operations)

Ad Operations is a department or individual working within or on behalf of a streaming service to fill ad inventory. Their focus is to set up, manage and track systems to sell ad inventory to advertisers.

Ad Frequency

Ad Frequency is how often a user is shown the exact same ad. Serving the same ad multiple times to the same user is repetitive and can negatively impact the effectiveness of the ad and the user’s experience. Frequency capping limits the number of times a user can see the same ad.

Ad Pod

An Ad Pod is a group of video ads that appear together during an ad break. Each Ad pod consists of multiple ad calls and each video ad delivered in a pod is considered an individual impression. The number of ads delivered in an ad pod can have a major impact on user experience.

Ad Inventory

Ad Inventory is the total number of available ad requests or “calls” a streaming service makes. Ad inventory is “filled” by ad impressions.

Ad Impression

An Ad Impression is when an ad has been delivered and displayed within a streaming service on a device.

Ad Exchange

An Ad Exchange is a platform where streaming services can auction and track their ad inventory to interested advertisers. Streaming services can plug their ad inventory into multiple ad exchanges using an SSP.

Ad Reach

Ad Reach measures how many people were served an advertisement. Ad reach totals differ from total ad impressions, in that the same ad can be shown to the same person multiple times, increasing ad impressions but not reach. In the case of many OTT devices, multiple individuals may be watching the same screen, so when an ad is served, only one impression is recorded, however, the reach was greater than that since more than one person saw the ad.

Audience Extension

Audience Extension allows multiple streaming services with similar audience segments to group their ad inventory, making the inventory more desirable and valuable to advertisers, driving demand and CPM’s

AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand)

Advertising Video on Demand is video content monetized through the delivery of video advertisements to a viewer before (Pre-Roll), during (Mid-Roll), or after (Post-Roll) the video.

Bundle

A bundle is a grouping of content within a streaming service that is made available behind some variation of TVOD pay-wall. It is a way for streaming services to divide their library into multiple offerings that are not broken down to the title-by-title level.

CPM (Cost per Thousand or Mille)

CPM measures the cost of one thousand ad impressions. The CPM is the amount advertisers pay for one thousand ad impressions and they vary drastically based on the platform. Typically video ads on CTV draw some of the highest CPM’s in the marketing industry.

CSAI (Client Side Ad Insertion)

Client Side Ad Insertion is when ads are served during ad breaks on the applications side. This means when a user reaches an ad break, a call must go out for that specific user. This provides advertisers with better tracking around their ad. Another major advantage is that since the call is for a specific user, DAI ads can be inserted to target the specific user. However, this is a slower process, which can lead to longer load times during the ad call. In general, CSAI is a less seamless experience than SSAI, but does allow for more accurate targeting.

DAI (Dynamic Ad Insertion)

Dynamic Ad Insertion is technology that enables advertisers to deliver video ads on a user-by-user basis. Instead of serving the same ad to every viewer, DAI allows for different ads to be shown to different viewers based on targeting. This means viewers are shown ads more relevant to them, providing more value for advertisers, and a better experience for users.

Digital Coupon

A digital coupon provides users with a digital code that when used on a streaming service gives them a discount to access content or towards a subscription.

Digital Rentals

Digital rentals are a form of TVOD that closest resembles the throwback video rental store model. Viewers are able to pay for unlimited viewing of a movie, series, or bundle of content on the streaming service for a specified period of time.

EST (Electronic Sell Through)

Electronic Sell Through is a form of TVOD in which content is permanently viewable for a one-time fee. Some forms of EST allow users to download a digital copy of the video for viewership everywhere, while other forms only permit users access to view paid for content within the streaming service or platform’s walled garden.

FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television)

FAST are streaming services supported by ads that resemble traditional television users would usually pay to access. Examples include Roku’s Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Walmart’s Vudu, Viacom’s Pluto TV, Xumo and Tubi.

Fill Rate

Fill Rate, or “fill” is the percent of times an ad call is received and an ad is delivered resulting in an ad impression. A very low fill rate could signify a streaming service may have a CPM floor that is too high. Conversely, a very high fill rate might be the result of a undervalue CPM floor. Fill rate percent can be calculated by dividing ad Impressions by ad calls and multiplying that dividend by one hundred.

Floor CPM

Floor CPM is the minimum CPM bid a streaming service will accept to sell their ad inventory for. It is usually a number that can be set on the streaming service’s SSP.

Free Trial

A free trial allows users to try a subscription before purchasing. These often significantly increase userbases as they afford consumers the opportunity to become familiar and hooked on the content within a streaming service before having to make the decision to pay.

In-stream Ad

In-stream Ad’s are video ads played around or during a video stream. They can appear before the start of a video (Pre-Roll), during a video (Mid-Roll), and after a video (Post-Roll).

Native Ads

Native ads are advertisements within a streaming service that seek to be as unobtrusive as possible. They achieve this by blending the advertisement as best as possible into the normal functionality of the streaming service.

MRR (Monthly Reoccurring Revenue)

Monthly Reoccurring Revenue is the predictable revenue a streaming service grosses on a monthly basis. For SVOD streaming services MRR is more predictable and consistent than for those monetizing with AVOD.

PPV (Pay-Per-View)

Pay-Per-View is a form of TVOD used to monetize live events. It allows a viewer to purchase access to view the live stream of an event as it occurs.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising is the buying and selling of ad inventory through the use of software automatically. With programmatic ads, advertisers and publishers are able to efficiently navigate the marketplace; requiring less direct interactions and effort.

SWAF – Subscribe to Watch Ad Free

Subscribe to Watch Ad Free is a hybrid monetization model combining both AVOD and SVOD. Users are served ads while viewing videos within a streaming service but have the option to pay a subscription to limit the frequency of, or completely disable ads. This can be offered in a tiered model, where users have the option of multiple subscription price points that determine the frequency of ads.

VAST (Video Ad Serving Template)

Video Ad Serving Template was developed by IAB (International Advertising Bureau) as a universal language for serving ads. It outlines standardized specifications for video ads so that no matter the ad server, an ad with a VAST tag can be delivered and streamed on compliant players.

VCR (Video ad completion rate)

Video ad completion rate is the rate at which video ad impressions play to 100%. An ad is not considered completed if a user skips an ad, or exits a video during an ad.

Video DSP (Demand Side Platform)

A Demand Side Platform is a system enabling advertisers to manage their bidding and delivery of ads across multiple ad exchanges in one interface. DSP’s are important for streaming services because they are the means by which most advertisers bid and track bought inventory on OTT.

Video SSP (Supply Side Platform)

Video Supply Side Platforms allow streaming services to sell their ad inventory in an automated fashion. The function of an SSP is to maximize CPM’s and fill rates for the streaming service. Since SSP’s handle selling ad inventory, it is not required for streaming services to manually contact advertisers and directly sell their inventory; a less efficient process that requires expensive sales people. In cases where manually selling of inventory is taking place, an SSP can still be used to sell any remaining inventory.

SSP’s works by plugging the streaming service’s ad inventory into multiple ad exchanges, DSP’s and networks. SSP’s are often called yield-optimization platforms, because they expose ad inventory to the greatest numbers of marketers, increasing the opportunities for higher bids for inventory, all automatically.

VMAP (Video Multiple Ad Playlist)

Video Multiple Ad Playlist is an XML template used to establish the structure for ad insertion. It allows video content owners and ad networks to schedule multiple ad insertions from a single tag. VMAP is the guide that sets ad cadence, or specific ad breaks within content.

VPAID (Video Player Ad-serving Interface Definition)

Video Player Ad-serving Interface Definition is a script that allows advertisers to insert higher value, customized ad formats, including interactive elements into video streams. It instructs the video player where to place actions including pause, play, length of ad and more. VPAID’s flexibility can result in video ads that are more effective which in turn means advertisers are willing to pay more for inventory. VPAID ads offer less tracking capabilities than VAST, although the two can be stacked for an optimized ad delivery system for advertisers.

RAF (Roku Ad Framework)

Roku Ad Framework provides advanced advertising fulfillment and rendering capabilities to Roku applications. The library supports a variety of ad services, and rendering of both video ads and interactive ads while enforcing consistent user experience for all applications on Roku. The library is designed to support multiple use cases, providing streaming services with flexibility to control as little or as much of the ad rendering process as desired.

Skippable Video Ads

Skippable Video Ads are video ads that are skippable by users, either right at the start or after a certain period of time. Advertisers will pay lower CPM’s for ads that have been skipped, but higher CPM’s for skippable ads that are completed, as it infers the user was engaged.

Sponsorships

Sponsorships on streaming services are promotional opportunities within a streaming service that go beyond programmatic in-stream ads. Often times, sponsorships involve promotional brand placement in prominent places within the streaming service including in-stream ads and banner ads that feature copy such as “presented by” or “sponsored by.” Sponsorships must be sold directly by the streaming service and in most cases are highly coveted by brands, who view them as a higher impact channel than simple advertisements.

SSAI (Server Side Ad Insertion or Ad Stitching)

Server Side Ad Insertion, also known as Ad Stitching, is a backend process to insert ads into videos prior to distribution to viewers. Videos and video ads have different points of origin, videos coming from a CDN and ads most often coming from an ad server. SSAI is the process of stitching ads into videos at appropriate cadences on the backend before the content is streamed to the viewer. This creates a smoother, uniform experience for all users. Server-side ads also circumvent ad-blockers, which are unable to distinguish an ad from the actual content, rendering them ineffective.

SSAI has two shortcomings in comparison to client-side ad insertion. Chiefly is a lack of targeting capabilities. Since the same feed of content and ads are distributed to all viewers, it is difficult to dial into audiences on a user-by-user basis with specific ads. Server-side Ad Insertion also relies on the streaming service to report views, since advertisers are unable to measure impressions themselves. This creates some concern with advertisers who worry about the accuracy of reports.

SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand)

Subscription Video on Demand is a video, bundle, or entire library of content made available by a streaming service for a recurring fee. This fee may be charged daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.

SWAF – Subscribe to Watch Ad Free

Subscribe to Watch Ad Free is a hybrid monetization model combining both AVOD and SVOD. Users are served ads while viewing videos within a streaming service but have the option to pay a subscription to limit the frequency of, or completely disable ads. This can be offered in a tiered model, where users have the option of multiple subscription price points that determine the frequency of ads.

TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand)

Transactional Video on Demand is content made available to view for a single fee. Forms of TVOD include PPV, digital rentals and EST.

Waterfall Advertising

Waterfall Advertising, also known as water falling, waterfall tags or daisy chaining, is a process that helps streaming services sell their entire ad inventory at the best possible CPM’s. It is a multi-step system that allows streaming services to make calls to multiple locations in order of highest valued advertisements. With a waterfall technique, an ad call will first be made to an ad exchange or ad network with the most premium advertisers, if they are unable to fill the ad call, the ad call then goes to the next highest-rated exchange or network. This process will continue until all possible marketplaces have received the ad call. This technique optimizes the fill rate and CPMs.

UI/UX


Episode

An Episode is a video that belongs to a series.

EPG/ Live Guide

An Electronic Program Guide or Live Guide is a discovery menu that displays the schedule of multiple live channels and allows users to select what to watch or record. Popularized by cable guides, EPG’s are the standardized way to organize the schedules of live channels within a streaming service.

Live

Live content is a video feed that is streamed as the content is recorded. Generally, live content requires AV equipment and a switchboard to produce an HLS live feed that can then be distributed and streamed.

Live Linear Channels

Live Linear Channels are channels that resemble traditional broadcast television in that they run continuously 24/7 and are often displayed in an EPG. Live linear channels can include live content, as well as simulated live VOD assets stitched together.

Movie

A Movie is generally a long-form video that includes metadata including vertical poster, director, cast etc. Content in the form of movies lends itself to easier integrations with deep link search on OTT platforms.

Playlist

A Playlist is a collection of videos, movies, and series organized in a specific order. When viewed, a playlist will automatically play through its entire list of content in order.

Programmatic Live Channels

Programmatic Live Channels are live linear channels that have had their content scheduled by automatic systems.

Series­­­­

A Series is a collection of episodes organized under a single title with additional metadata including vertical poster, director, cast etc. Series can have sub-categories for organizing content further called “seasons.”

Session

A Session begins when an individual user opens a streaming service on any device. A session ends when the user then closes or exits the streaming service. A user can have multiple sessions in a single day.

Simulated live

Simulated live are live linear channels made of VOD assets that have been stitched together to “simulate” the experience of watching live content.

Slate

A Slate is a form of branding that goes in between content and ad breaks. Usually, in the form of a still logo, or quick animation, it is a way to remind viewers what channel they are viewing.

UGC (User Generated Content)

User Generated Content in most cases refers to short-form web videos popularized on platforms such as YouTube. They are videos that have not been made by a specific company or brand.

User

A User is an individual who has installed, signed up for, or is watching content on a streaming service.

Video

A Video is any piece of stand-alone content with limited metadata.

View

A View occurs when a user initiates playback on a piece of content. Different platforms have different minimum view time thresholds to define if they record that a view has occurred.

VOD (Video on Demand)

Video on Demand is video content that plays from the start when a user selects to view it.

Watch Time

Watch Time is the duration of time that content is streamed to a user.

Time Stamped Comments

Time stamped comments are user-generated comments on a video that are associated with a specific time within the video. It is a commonly used form of commenting on video that allows users to easily reference specific occurrences in content.

Video Recommendations

Video Recommendations are suggested content that streaming services present to users based on predicted viewing behavior. Accurate recommendations can significantly increase viewing times and improve user satisfaction.

Backend


App (Application)

An App is a program users download directly to hardware or platforms from an app store. For streaming services, an app is a native experience built to optimize for the UI/UX capabilities of a connected device’s operating system or of a platform. Some apps can come pre-installed on a device through a deal with the manufacturer.

CBR (Constant Bit Rate)

Constant Bit Rate is a bit rate for video encoding where output data is uniform for each time segment. It is generally a quicker, more consistent loading process than VBR, but does result in lower quality videos and larger files.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A Content Delivery Network is an infrastructure consisting of proxy servers strategically distributed across the globe to reduce the latency when streaming content on devices no matter where they are located. CDN’s host and deliver content to users and generally have a cost per hour of content streamed on the streaming service.

CMS (Content Management System)

A Content Management System is the backend software that allows streaming services to manage how content is organized and displayed to users. Content Management Systems often also allow the streaming service to create bundles of content and set monetization options as well as adjust their content’s metadata.

Deep Link Search

Deep Link Search on OTT platforms allows for content to be architectured in such a way that it appears in app store and platform-wide searches. Many app stores and OTT platforms allow users to search for keywords and provide query results that include both apps as well as specific content. When a user selects content from search results, the app the video lives on is automatically installed onto the user’s device and opened to that specific video. Deep link search is a powerful discovery tool that can be a major driver of organic growth for a streaming service.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Digital Rights Management is a set of access rights management technologies for restricting the access and distribution of copyrighted videos. DRM technologies enforce policies to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted content. Streaming services can have DRM technologies built into their backend to prevent piracy.

DTC (Direct to consumer)

Direct to consumer is the distribution of content that skips over a middleman, delivered directly to consumers. One of the promises of OTT is the ability for content owners of all sizes and means to distribute their content directly to fans, owning the relationship.

Encoding/ Transcoding

Encoding/transcoding is a process that converts video files of one format into another. Varying OTT endpoints support different video formats. It is required that every video within a streaming service be encoded into each format for the video to be viewable on every device.

Ingestion

Ingestion is the process of adding content to a CMS. Often times a streaming service is able to individually add content by uploading it directly to their CMS. Libraries of content with metadata can be ingested from a cloud storage location to a CMS through proper integrations.

HLS (HTTS Live Streaming)

HTTS Live Streaming is a protocol for delivering content at variable bit rates to ensure video quality is optimized for network conditions. With HLS, the stream starts at a low bitrate that provides low video resolution and increases bitrate and video resolution as the network conditions permit. Essentially, a user is quickly shown a low-quality stream to reduce initial load times. Then the quality is increased as the content plays to the maximum quality their device’s network can support without buffering interruptions.

Hosting

Hosting is the physical storage of video content on a server to then be distributed by a streaming service. Hosting is not free and usually has a monthly cost per hour of content stored associated with it.

HTML5 Apps

HTML5 Apps are a streaming service’s website converted into a format accessible in app form on an OTT device or platform.

IPTV (Internet Protocol television)

Internet Protocol television is the delivery of television content over Internet protocol networks unlike traditional delivery of content over cable or satellite. IPTV enables continuous video streaming to connected devices without the need to download content.

Metadata

Metadata is information that is associated with a video, including title, description, date published, thumbnails, poster art and more.

MRSS (Media Real Simple Syndication)

Media Real Simple Syndication is a format for content feeds that allows for the easy syndication and ingestion of videos with metadata to a CMS.

OVP (Online Video Platform)

An Online Video Platform enables streaming services to upload, convert, store and play back video content on the Internet, often via a structured, large-scale system that can generate revenue. OVP’s generally bring together a CMS and CDN as a complete solution to manage and deliver content over the internet.

OTT (Over-The-Top)

Over-The-Top is the delivery of content over the Internet that does not involve a multiple-system operator controlling or distributing the video. This differs from traditional cable or the purchasing/ rental of content from Internet service providers (ISP) including video on demand or pay TV. In simpler terms, OTT is the delivery of content to connected devices through means that directly connect the content owner to the viewer without a middleman.

SDK (Standard Developer Kit)

A Standard Developer Kit is a set of tools that OTT platforms provide developers to program native apps for the platform. An SDK app is built specifically to optimize the available features of the specific OTT platform.

STB (Set Top Box)

A Set Top Box is a piece of internet-connected hardware with an OTT enabled operating system that plugs into any television.

VBR (Variable Bit Rate)

Variable Bit Rate is a bit rate for video encoding where files vary the output data for each time segment. It is generally a slower loading process that results in the highest quality stream.

vMPVD (Virtual Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributor)

A Virtual Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributor is a cable type experience featuring video-on-demand and live content delivered to connected devices over the internet, rather than over traditional network infrastructure. It is cable on OTT!


Platforms


Android

Android is the operating system for the majority of the World’s mobile devices. Through the Google Play Store users can find and install streaming services’ apps. Similarly to iOS, AVOD streaming services have no revenue share with Android, however SVOD services must share 30% of subscription revenue for the first year, and 15% of revenue in any subsequent years for any subscriber who joined via the Android app.

Android TV

Android TV is a version of the Android operating system designed for digital media players, including set top boxes and Connected Televisions. Users are able to directly download streaming services’ app from the Google play store on their device. SVOD streaming services on Android TV pay the same revenue share as on Android; 30% of subscription revenue for the first year, and 15% of revenue in any subsequent years for any subscriber who joined via the Android TV app.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV, often referred to as Fire TV, is the second largest Smart TV platform. Available on the Amazon Fire TV stick and Amazon Fire Tablets, users are able to install video streaming apps from the Fire TV store, or from their connected Amazon.com account on the web. Amazon Fire takes a 30% cut of revenue generated from subscriptions purchased through apps on their platform for the first year, and then 15% in subsequent years.

Chromecast

Chromecast is a Google produced line of dongle like digital media players that plug directly into a TV’s HDMI port. Users can “cast” a video streaming service’s web site to their Chromecast device to watch content on their television.

CTV (Connected TV)

Connected TV’s are televisions with built in hardware to connect to the internet and an operating system with the capabilities to stream content. Most CTV’s have their own app store, where users can install the native applications of streaming services. Popular CTV brands with their own app store includes VIZIO, LG, Sasmsung, Hisense and Sony.

iOS

iOS is the operating system on Apple iPhone and iPad devices and is the second most popular mobile operating system globally. Video streaming services’ apps are made available to download in the iOS app store. On iOS, AVOD streaming services have no revenue share with Apple, however SVOD services must share 30% of subscription revenue for the first year, and 15% of revenue in any subsequent years with Apple for any subscriber who joined via the iOS app.

PS5/XBOX

PS5 and XBOX are both video game hardware devices with their own unique app stores that support streaming services.

Roku

Roku is the largest Smart TV streaming platform. Roku comes as a set top box, stick, or preinstalled as the operating system on connected televisions. The platform allows users to directly install the apps of streaming services (called “Channels” on Roku) directly onto their device through the Roku Channel Store. On AVOD channels, Roku reserves a 30% cut of ad inventory for themselves. On SVOD channels Roku takes a 30% cut of revenue generated from subscriptions purchased through the platform for the first year, and then 15% in subsequent years.

Roku Direct

Roku Direct is a standardized form of Roku channel that simply needs a feed of content to launch and automatically monetize with ads. All content within Roku Direct channels is deep linked into Roku search.

tvOS

tvOS is the operating system on Apple TV devices. Users can directly install streaming services’ apps onto their device through the tvOS app store. If a user connects their apple account and opts in, any app installed onto their iOS device will also automatically install onto their tvOS device if an Apple TV version of the app exists. SVOD streaming services on tvOS pay the same revenue share to Apple as on iOS; 30% share of subscription revenue for the first year, and 15% share of revenue in any subsequent years to Apple for any subscriber who joined via the tvOS app.

VEWD

Vewd, formerly Opera TV, is an OTT platform pre-installed onto over 50 million Smart TV’s and set top boxes. Streaming services can launch their own Vewd app that users of the Vewd platform can choose to install.