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Self Service vs. Managed Service in OTT/CTV Advertising

OTT/CTV advertising isn't the next big thing in omnichannel marketing; it's already come to stay as a major powerhouse in engaging with clients across virtually all market segments. While ignoring this channel is no longer an option, you still have a choice on whether you use managed services or try to ramp up success through a self-serve model.

One of the core benefits of managed services, according to BizReport, is that "Managed service fills the gaps for teams that don't have the staff or expertise required to own media strategy and execution fully."

In this article, we take a deeper look at how managed services can benefit organizations of any size and industry interested in OTT/CTV advertising.

Self-service vs managed service comparison chart


Programmatic advertising requires close attention to detail. Different messages need to align precisely with diverse audiences across other networks. To ensure that all of the campaigns reach the right audiences at the most optimal moments, advertising teams can choose between self-service models and managed services.

Let's take a quick look at the similarities and differences between the two.

Self-Service Programmatic Advertising Models

In self-serve models, the advertising organization has complete insight and control of the process. Self-service clients oversee all of their media purchases, often through a demand-side platform and by having a large team to manage all the details. 

They need to control the bidding and scheduling of advertisements across diverse channels. If your organization runs omnichannel campaigns across various OTT platforms, this means juggling multiple dashboards, budgets, and reporting systems. 

Large organizations that can manage all of their programmatic advertising tasks in-house will often opt for self-serve models. They can train internal staff to maintain all of the moving parts and cohesively work concurrent campaigns. Likewise, organizations that want real-time data and tight control over every aspect of quickly moving campaigns can opt for self-serve models.

Managed Programmatic Advertising Models

Managed services act on behalf of an agency or direct advertising customer to purchase media. Managed services offer different levels of control, insight, and hands-free solutions. Most managed services will offer plans based on impressions or clicks and provide a fixed spend.

The service will handle all of the tasks using the demand-side platform, including planning, purchasing media, monitoring engagement, and creating reports. In addition, different managed services may offer services for refining marketing campaigns to ensure all of the ads align with the KPIs and goals of a given campaign.

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Programmatic advertising can be highly complex to manage, but it's increasingly vital for the success of advertising campaigns across any market segment. Not only are streaming platforms much more commonplace than in previous years, but viewers are also spending more and more time on them. 

If you know that your organization needs to pivot and prioritize programmatic advertising, the next step is choosing between self-serve and managed services. Next, consider the size of your organization, the knowledge, and bandwidth of your available advertising and marketing staff, and what efficiency-related KPIs your organization is prioritizing.

Here are three key reasons to choose a managed service over investing in a self-serve model:

1. Results

When you choose managed services, you're immediately reaping the benefits of working with industry experts who know the ins and outs of programmatic advertising and buying media. They also have technological solutions that power efficient purchasing and robust analytics.

Ultimately, managed services give you better results, both right out of the gate and in the long term. Whether you're focused on results for the holiday season or you need strong annual and quarterly results, choosing a managed service cuts through the startup costs and inertia. With a managed service, you get a complete solution with:

  • Access to high-quality inventory
  • More efficient pricing
  • Industry expertise and experience with best practices for OTT/CTV advertising
  • Tech solutions for full geotargeting, attribution, and analytics

Self-service models, on the other hand, can limit the results. For example, you'll see less inventory for the initial media purchasing stages and won't have easy access to prime windows of customers' attention. You'll also have reduced targeting and attribution powers, which can be essential for zeroing in on positive results and duplicating them in subsequent campaigns.

2. Better CPM

Pricing is a factor in every marketing decision. When you choose a managed solution, the price tag may look higher than the initial costs of self-serve models. But it includes everything you need to get your OTT/CTV advertising running.

You'll have access to complete campaign management, industry experts, and the technology and inventory to make the process run smoothly. In addition, because a managed service oversees bigger blocks of media, individual organizations benefit from a stronger negotiating position.

Managed services can also cut down on costs in the future. For example, at Strategus, we advise our clients to avoid costly advertising mistakes that reduce campaign effectiveness. We also cover our clients for over-delivery and similar errors.

Self-serve models can have a smaller price tag, but much less is included in that price. This can leave your organization paying for unexpected add-ons, the costs and lost time of training your internal staff, and even hiring costs for bringing a full-time expert onto your team. You also face potentially steep charges for mistakes that will happen as your team takes on this niche area of advertising.

3. Specialized Team

If you manage your own CTV/OTT services, you have a new full-time job on your plate. But when you choose managed services, you still have time to manage your responsibilities.

By working with a third-party service of industry experts, you can immediately benefit from their experience, industry relationships, analytics tools, and knowledge of best practices. This advantage can instantly boost your advertising results.


At Strategus, we offer comprehensive managed services of OTT/CTV advertising. Our team of experts can help you explore more marketing pathways, innovate your current advertising practices, and give you greater access to your core markets.

We offer 24/7 campaign management, 365 days a year! Contact us today to learn more about how managed OTT/CTV advertising services can take your omnichannel campaigns to the next level without overburdening your teams or overstretching your budget. 

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Posted by Strategus