Your Connected TV Lexicon

The ultimate Connected TV lexicon and what you should know about the main Advanced TV and CTV keywords. Last update: July 2021.

If you’ve ever overheard a conversation between engineers as they excitedly discuss the virtues and drawbacks of a particular technology or process you’ve probably had the feeling they were speaking in a different language, or using an unfamiliar dialect at least.

Loaded with jargon and acronyms, this shorthand for the cognoscenti helps ensure that they, and only they, can understand one another. And if you’re not in the club, that’s on you pal.

We’re equally guilty in the media business, throwing around terms like weapons to overwhelm our prospects and partners with our erudition and sophistication. (You see how that works? I used the word erudition and you immediately assumed I know more than I really do.)

When it comes to advanced TV and Connected TV, we’re heading down that same road. One where the words, phrases, and multi-letter abbreviations threaten to limit the acceptance and growth of a media format combining the breadth and reach of television with the targeting and measurement of the internet.

In this first installment of the Smart CTV Lexicon we’re providing some basic terms and definitions to help you cope when you sit in on that next awesome adtech webinar and you think you’ve wandered into the Tower of Babel.

Connected TV (CTV)

Devices that deliver video by connecting to a TV or via functionality within the TV itself (i.e., Smart TVs). Common CTV device brands include: Roku, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV.

What you should know:

CTV refers to a device, not a type of content. If someone is selling you CTV inventory be sure to ask about the device platform they are talking about.


Server Side Ad Insertion

What you should know:

Allows for the seamless stitching on an ad into a stream at the source, providing a better user experience and less chance of buffering or failing. Includes benefits for tracking and measurement.


Client Side Ad Insertion

What you should know:

Allows for the seamless stitching on an ad into a stream at the source, providing a better user experience and less chance of buffering or failing. Includes benefits for tracking and measurement.

AVOD Service

An advertising supported OTT video service like Tubi or PlutoTV.

What you should know:

Advertising Supported Video-on-Demand. Recent premium programming with ad breaks like traditional TV

SVOD Service

A subscription video on demand service with no ads like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

What you should know:

Commercial-free series and films provided for a monthly fee. Typically multiple years of a series stacked for binging by viewers.


A household that has had a traditional pay-TV service (e.g., cable or satellite) in the past five years, but has cancelled or forgone said service in favor of a digital, over-the-top or over-the-air option.

What you should know:

A growing and accelerating trend especially among the younger and more affluent households, a key advertising target that is essential for building lifetime customer value.


A home that has not had a traditional pay-TV (cable/satellite) subscription in the last five years.

What you should know: 

Newly forming households are often more likely to decline a traditional cable package in favor of OTT services delivered on CTV devices.


A household that has reduced it’s cable programming subscription package or tier but remains a customer of the cable company.

What you should know:

Occuring in established households with affinity for local broadcast and basic cable channels.

Heavy streamers

The top 20 percent of OTT households based on duration.

What you should know:

These are the most available audiences, watching more – and more frequently – than 80% of homes.

Light streamers

The bottom 50 percent of OTT households based on duration.

What you should know:

Often these are also subscribers to traditional cable MVPDs, so overall OTT viewing time is lower but total video viewership can be equal or higher.

Medium streamers

The next 30 percent of OTT households (after heavy streamers) based on duration.

What you should know:

Viewership tends to parallel traditional TV watching in this group: Heaviest during primetime and weekends, and watching a broad variety of premium network and digital content.


Multichannel Video (live TV) Programming Distributor (cable/satellite companies).

What you should know:

The programming you subscribe to that runs through a set-top box that you don’t want, but have to take, just to get broadband internet in your home.

OTT services/apps

Any app or service that provides content via OTT and bypasses traditional distribution (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, etc.).

What you should know:

Some of these content apps run on CTV platforms as well as on mobile (iOS/Android) and in web browsers. The value of OTT inventory varies widely, so be sure to get what you pay for.

OTT streaming households

Homes with OTT devices that stream content on those devices.

What you should know:

In 2021, Over 70% of U.S. broadband households now stream OTT content through one or more CTV devices or Smart TVs.


Any internet-based content that is streamed on a device that is not a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

What you should know:

If it’s video delivered to a CTV device or Smart TV, it’s OTT. But be aware: Just because it’s OTT doesn’t mean it’s good. Look for “premium” content from networks you know and trust.

Smart TV

An internet-connected television on which users can stream OTT content.

What you should know:

Smart TVs don’t need a device, internet connectivity is natively built into their Operating Systems. Smart TVs have their own CTV advertising functionality, with pros and cons.

Virtual MVPD (vMVPD)

An OTT service that distributes linear TV content through the internet, such as SlingTV and YouTubeTV.

What you should know:

A package of channels like you would get from the cable company without all the wires and set-top box. Think cable without the cables. Or the cable guy. Or the taxes and fees.

Interested in CTV? Contact us to learn more about our solutions.

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