In today’s marketing space, advertising can be divided into three segments based on the basis of marketing motives, target groups, and the budget of the marketer. The segments are:
1) Above the Line (ATL)
2) Below the Line (BTL)
3) Through the Line (TTL)
The terms ATL and BTL were first used in 1954 when Proctor & Gamble began paying certain advertising firms differently from others who used more direct promotional tactics. The “line” initially existed to differentiate between marketing activities that seek to achieve mass penetration (above the line) and the marketing activities that were more specific and directed at specific groups (below the line). However, due to developments in technology and increased competition, “Through the Line” advertising was born; a more integrated marketing approach that merges both ATL and BTL marketing activities. In this article, we will explain all three and outline their advantages.
This consists of marketing activities that have a wide reach and are mostly untargeted (not directed towards a specific group). Any message passed during ATL is meant to build the brand and inform potential consumers of the product/service being advertised so conversion isn’t exactly the main goal. Examples of ATL advertising include those that run on the following mediums: Television, Radio, Print (magazines & newspapers), etc.
Advantages of Above the Line Advertising
1) Wide Reach: ATL mediums have an insanely wide reach. For example, a 30-second ad space during the 2018 Superbowl final costs $5 million. That’s because the game had an audience of over 111 million viewers in the US alone. And because Superbowl commercials have become as much of a big deal as the game itself, a lot more people tune in every year just to see them.
2) Better Connect With Audience: Mediums like television and radio use a mixture of audio and visuals to pass messages which have a better chance of connecting with audiences as opposed to still images.
3) Effective Brand Building: An important tool in defining brand identity is media advertising because a brand is ultimately built by the customers. ATL advertising, therefore, plays an integral role in brand building because it helps marketers reach as many potential customers as possible and informs them about the product/service and its benefits.
This advertising strategy involves marketing activities that are memorable and very specific because they’re targeted at a group of consumers. Below the Line advertising focuses more on conversions than on brand building. Some examples of BTL promotional mediums include:
Advantages of Below the Line Advertising
1) Uber Specificity: Conversions are better achieved when advertising messages are passed according to the wants of the customers. Since BTL ad strategies are extremely targeted, its results are better in terms of conversions.
2) Better Return on Investments: BTL advertising strategies have a better reach and can be easily executed, tracked, and controlled because they’re tailor-made for and targeted at very specific target groups.
“Through the Line” advertising involves a mashup of the promotion tactics and mediums used in both ATL and BTL advertising in order to get better results. In a nutshell, it’s a marketing strategy that is used for campaigns that seek to achieve brand building as well as conversions. An example of TTL advertising is digital marketing strategies that offer ATL advertising benefits while acting as BTL communication to the customers.