Decoding the addressable TV industry's definitions

  • 8 minutes read
  • Global
  • 17/03/2023

With the addressable TV advertising marketplace evolving rapidly, it is important to establish and stick to a common set of definitions that we use to communicate both externally and internally.

Many of the definitions vary by market and as such we need to clarify our understanding of these definitions prior to client conversations so we eliminate any confusion. These definitions may be subject to change as the industry evolves.

Addressable TV advertising is the ability to show different ads to different households while they are watching the same content. With the help of addressable advertising, advertisers can move beyond large-scale traditional TV ad buys, to focus on relevance, impact and building incremental reach.

Finecast definitions

Finecast addressable advertising covers CTV, OTT, Linear TV advertising

Connected TV (CTV)

Connected TV is a TV connected to the internet either directly or indirectly through:

  • Smart TVs
  • External streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Sticks
  • Internet-enabled gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation
  • Internet-enabled Blu-ray/DVD players


Over the top (OTT)

Over the top (OTT) media encompasses all streaming TV and video content (i.e., VOD, Linear TV, Live Streaming) distributed directly to viewers over the internet bypassing traditional broadcast TV technology. OTT covers all devices and environments including mobile, tablet, desktop and apps, and is not exclusive to CTV.


Linear TV

Linear TV refers to traditional television viewing. In order to watch a show, the viewer must tune in to a specific channel at an appointed time. Viewers access linear TV either free of charge (typically through over-the-air broadcasts) or via subscription to cable, satellite, or IPTV services. Linear TV ads are replaced through Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI).

This enables relevant targeting based on geo-location, income, gender life-stage, demography, behaviour and other attributes.


CTV Advertising

Advertising that is delivered to a connected TV set (as per the definition above) over an internet connection. It is important to note that connected TV advertising is quite a broad and varied category, covering a spectrum of content providers, ranging from premium quality, professionally produced ‘for TV’ content (typically from broadcaster services) to short-form user-generated content from video sharing platforms (i.e., YouTube).

Industry views:


There are two prevailing views about how OTT and CTV relate to each other: VIEW 1 that puts CTV as a subset of OTT, and VIEW 2 treats OTT and CTV as separate categories, where OTT is used to refer to streaming on mobile, tablet and desktop devices (please see the illustration on the right).

Here is a useful note on the history behind the term ‘OTT’ from IAB Tech Lab US: The term “OTT” originated in the broadcast world. Content that was originally distributed for view on TVs using broadcast, cable, or satellite channels began to be served online, or “over the top”. It was used to refer to content being distributed via the internet and viewed on desktop PCs and mobile devices (which were the primary means to consume OTT video at that time). However, when people lacking experience in broadcast, and only accustomed to streaming to mobile and desktop, began to use the term OTT, they applied the term to devices other than mobile/desktop – causing a lot of the current confusion.

Programmatic TV advertising

An automated and data-driven approach to buying and delivering ads against TV/video content. ‘Programmatic’ should only refer to how ads are bought and delivered, it should not indicate the environment in which the ads are delivered (e.g., desktop, mobile devices, connected TVs, set-top boxes) or the level of targeting supported (i.e., addressable vs. run of site/network). However, there is often confusion around the term, so it is recommended to clarify the meaning upfront in any discussion or avoid the term altogether in the context of TV advertising.


Advanced TV advertising

A catch-all term for emerging forms of TV advertising that evolved beyond traditional, linear television, including addressable TV, programmatic TV, data driven linear TV, connected TV and OTT.

How do these terms relate to each other?

Connected TV

Refers to the distribution technology and device indicating how and where TV content is delivered, i.e., to Internet-connected TV sets (How = Internet, Where = TV sets).

Over the top (OTT)

Refers to the delivery technology indicating how TV content is delivered, i.e., over the Internet bypassing traditional TV technology.

Addressable TV advertising

Refers to the ability to target advertising to individually selected households or individuals as opposed to delivering the same ad to everyone watching same show or at the same time.

Programmatic TV advertising

Refers to the automated approach to buying and delivering ads. Often, there is confusion around the term ‘Programmatic TV’, so it is recommended to clarify the meaning upfront in any discussion or avoid the term altogether in the context of TV advertising.

The terms above cover three different dimensions of TV advertising:

  • Distribution technology and device – i.e., connected TV and OTT
  • Targeting capability – i.e., addressable TV advertising
  • Approach to buying and delivering ads – i.e., programmatic TV advertising

Other TV-related definitions

Digital Terestrial Television (DTT)

Traditional linear TV broadcast over the air and received by an aerial which is connected to a TV set via a cable. DTT refers to the technology used to receive the broadcast signal, alongside cable, satellite, or IPTV.

Demand side platform (DSP)

A web-based software system used by advertisers and agencies to help them buy display, video, mobile and search ads.

Smart TV

A TV set with a built-in internet connection that enables interactive features, such as streaming videos and music, and browsing the internet.

Dynamic ad insertion

Any swap in / swap out of ads where the ad decisioning is automated and where the specific programme / ad pod adjacency is decided using data on (e.g.) the audience watching the ad, location, or time of day.

Broadcast TV

Programming that is transmitted one-to-many over airwaves for public reception. The broadcast is accessible by anyone with a receiver tuned to the right signal channel. Often used interchangeably with Linear TV.

Linear IP delivered TV

Linear TV delivered through the Internet.

Advertising video on demand (AVOD)

Video on demand services that are funded by advertising.

Video on demand (VOD)

Video content that is controlled, enabled, and consumed whenever a viewer wants rather than at a scheduled broadcast time. VOD content can be found on set top boxes, OTT devices, mobile web, mobile apps, and video streaming services. AVOD, BVOD and SVOD are all subsets of VOD outlining the content model.

Broadcaster video on demand (BVOD)

Video on demand services owned by broadcasters, which typically are funded by advertising. As a term, BVOD is used in some markets (e.g., Australia, UK) to refer to free professionally-produced on-demand TV content available from major broadcasters as opposed to other forms of video (e.g., user-generated content).

Subscription video on demand (SVOD)

Video on demand services that are paid for by viewers, typically via a monthly flat rate.

Transactional video on demand (TVOD)

Video on demand services funded by consumers purchasing content on a pay per view basis.

Set top box (STB)

A device that is connected to a TV set enabling it to receive and decode TV content. Through a STB a user can access VOD content as well as linear TV broadcast through cable, satellite, or IPTV.

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)

Identification technology that recognises content that is played on a media device or is present in a media file. This can be used to identify both the programming and advertising that a viewer consumes.

Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD)

The term MVPD is used mainly in the US and means the same as traditional pay-TV operators in other markets. They deliver video content via satellite, cable or IPTV and include companies like Comcast, Dish, DirecTV and Cox.


A subscription to a television service from a cable, satellite or telephone-/internet-servic e company (IPTV). The term pay-TV generally excludes Internet-based streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, which also charge a subscription fee.

Household (HH)

An individual or group of individuals occupying a single housing unit, used to reference homes that are able to be reached through TV advertising whether it is through traditional linear or addressable TV.


Reach is the number of unique households or viewers exposed to an ad, during a specified time period.


The method of receiving TV or video content on a connected device in real-time. Streaming requires connection to the internet for the entirety of the programme, as opposed to downloading the content all at once to be played at the viewer’s leisure.

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