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A Perfect Analysis: Above the Line Vs. Below the Line Advertising

Above the Line Vs. Below the Line Advertising
Above the line and below the line advertising refer to the usage of mass media and cash incentives, respectively. MarketingWit delves deeper into the topic of above the line vs. below the line advertising.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: May 5, 2018
"The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising, in my opinion, is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself."
― Leo Burnett
The field of advertising encompasses a wide range of promotional strategies to entice the customer. One of the prime arenas of business, advertising is prone to periodic changes in technique to suit the consumer's needs. With the advent of the internet, the field has been through even more path-breaking changes, since it has made use of the web to rapidly integrate a product into people's lives. Among the innumerable strategies, we have above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) advertising that speak for themselves. The article below highlights the difference between ATL and BTL.
Above the Line Advertising
Above the Line Advertising
  • Experts state that this method has been used for more than five decades, since the middle of the last century.
  • Of course, the extent of using mass media for product promotion was relatively lesser; yet, billboards, banners, and radio announcements were used to advertise products.
  • Today, the internet has effectively taken over more than 60% of the advertising media. This is what above the line advertising aims at.
  • A humongous number of people watch television and use the internet almost every day. These are the two most notable resources for advertising your product.
  • You need to combine the semantics of this technique and implement the same successfully to reach a huge audience.
  • This technique uses specific channels to concentrate on a specific group of people so that the brand awareness reaches the target audience.
Below the Line Advertising
Below the Line Advertising
  • It may be slightly complicated to explain this technique.
  • Below the line advertising targets a smaller audience and may use traditional advertising methods.
  • A lot of companies integrate the methods of below the line advertising with regular promotional techniques.
  • It aims at using sales offers, door-to-door promotions, and similar methods to advertise.
  • Like its counterpart, it uses the techniques as per the target audience; however, it is relatively simpler, since it does not target a very large, general audience anyway.
  • This technique was slightly thrown off course while online advertising grew by leaps and bounds. Recently however, many advertisers use BTL along with ATL and implement the advertising technique called Through the Line (TTL).
Above the Line Vs. Below the Line
Above the Line Below the Line
Target It has a huge target audience, i.e., it does not necessarily target a particular group of people. It has a global viewership. It is focused on targeting a smaller audience. It is more niche-oriented; it targets only a particular area or a particular group of people.
Strategies ATL uses the following:
  • Television
  • Radio channels
  • Internet
  • Outdoor media
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Billboards
It uses the following:
  • Text advertisements
  • Sales promotions
  • Discount coupons
  • Pamphlets and display units
  • Door-to-door sale
  • Direct mail marketing
  • Cash incentives
  • Shop-front activities
  • Exhibitions
Promotions It uses huge promotional strategies. Advertisements are splashed across television channels, radio channels, and billboards. The product is promoted in such a way that even someone who is not a part of the target audience, may be aware of what the product is. For example, let's say there is a particular brand of shoe that is used by a majority of the public. Thus, a minority of the public may or may not be aware of the same. But if the product is advertised all over the nation, someone who does not even use the shoe may come forward and ask, "Hey, is that a new brand? Looks great!". This is the effect of ATL. Its promotional activities use conventional methods rather than direct media. Products are promoted through sales offers and discounts. It employs sales personnel outside stores. It uses print media on a small scale as well (local newspapers and magazines). It is to be remembered that BTL can make use of ATL for promotions, i.e., one can advertise about a shoe sale (BTL) on television(ATL).
Benefits It is very beneficial for large-scale advertising. Its viral advertising brings about great results. Its word-of-mouth technique helps reach a wider audience. It is very easy to track due to limited audience. It is comparatively inexpensive as well. Since it is customized as per the consumer needs, it attracts people faster. It forms a more reliable part of the advertising campaign.
Drawbacks Negative trending may damage the image of the product. Since it does not target a particular audience, advertising takes a longer time. Online response for small ventures may attract lesser traffic. One needs to have a very deep knowledge regarding the local traditions, customer preferences, etc. Targeting may get complicated at times. Certain users may find it difficult to trust the business in case of negative experiences earlier.
Examples A notebook company may use ATL to promote its products. A shoe company can use ATL to advertise its shoes. A sports equipment company may use BTL to advertise its products. A small-scale handicraft company uses BTL for promotions.
The concept of advertising has been in vogue since time immemorial. The last two decades have seen myriad changes in the field, with newer innovations springing up every alternate day. It is up to the advertisers to consider varying factors and then choose the method they feel might work best for the product.