If you are a marketing professional or a student and you are not well versed with current marketing lingo you might miss on opportunities coming in your direction. Two such terms are Above the line (ATL) & Below the line (BTL). Are you aware of these?
I spend a lot of time interacting with marketing students clarifying their concepts of the subject. Particularly, ATL & BTL concept is what I am being asked the most.
So here is the simplified explanation of the terms Above the line & Below the line.
Both ATL & BTL are aspects of advertising. The role of advertising in marketing is to reach to customers and for this advertiser opts for either ATL communication or BTL communication.
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Let’s first understand the definition and how was this term coined. ATL can be defined as a communication technique used by advertisers to reach highly untargeted masses. For example, an ad on television aired through the nation. On the flip side, BTL can be defined as a communication technique used by advertisers to reach a highly targeted audience. For example, an event planned in college / university categorically targeting the students. In a nutshell, ATL is used for brand awareness and BTL is used for direct response (either direct sale or direct promotion).
Now let’s demystify the “Line” in both the communication technique. Back in 1954, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) started paying its agencies different rates as per the promotion activities planned. The line of communication that was chosen for promotion gave origin to ATL & BTL activities.
Common examples of ATL advertising are television, radio, print, outdoor and internet. Under BTL advertising, you have flyers, handbills, brochures at POS, events, banners and last but not the least internet. You may me confused how come the internet is part of both the communication technique? The Internet is the only tool that has a reach to masses as well as selected groups. With this there is a new termed that has come to existence in advertising, it is called as Through The Line (TTL) advertising. ( I will be explaining about TTL in depth in my next post)
Which one should you choose?
It depends on your targeting. If you want to reach to masses then you need to go for ATL advertising. You need to have an agency of record (AoR) to plan your ATL campaigns. Example, Housing.com Look up campaign
#LookUp campaign by Housing.com
If you want to communicate to specific (targeted) groups then you should opt for BTL advertising. Example, An activation in a cinema hall
Coco Cola BTL activation in India & Pakistan
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Comparison of ATL & BTL
|Above The Line||Below The Line|
|Segment||Undifferentiated segment||Target segment|
|Commonly Known as||Mass Marketing||One to One (direct)|
|Media Vehicles||TV, Print, Radio||Out of home, banners, flyers, events|
|Investment||High||Moderate to low|
|Brand Equity||Gains a high brand equity||Low (provided the activation is then advertise with ATL)|
|ROI||Difficult to measure.||Easier to measure as the response is direct.|
|Used by||Big and established players||Young or startups|
Watch out for my next post on Through The Line advertising and how you can benefit from it. Do subscribe to my blog and feel free to share it.