What is Above the line and Below the line Advertising?

DSM | Digital school of marketing - below the line advertising

Traditionally, most advertising campaigns are segmented into above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) advertising.  But what does this mean?  And why are marketing campaigns done in a way that targets these two categories in particular?  And how do you know when you have this mix just right?  It’s an ongoing discussion in the advertising world and the old cliché of ‘never putting your eggs in one basket’ certainly does ring true with above and below the line advertising.

Above the line vs Below the line advertising

What’s the difference between below and above the line marketing?

Above and below the line marketing practices are not new. They’ve both been around quite a while and continue to be important in our modern age of advertising.  Since the dawn of marketing and advertising both concepts have been used depending on the audience that is being targeted.  It’s important to note that both forms of advertising have their own unique benefits and advantages.

Generally, above and below the line advertising fall into two categories, as shown below:

  • Above the line advertising – ATL is used when the focus is on mass media promotion to reach a large audience. ATL includes media such as radio, TV, print media such as newspaper and magazines, and billboards.
  • Below the line advertising – In contrast to ATL, below the line advertising is directed to reach a small, targeted audience. BTL includes marketing activities such as brochures, direct mail, flyers, sponsorships and email campaigns.

Above the line advertising benefits

Above the line advertising has many benefits as it is designed to reach a larger audience and boost brand awareness. However this form of marketing does carry a costly price tag and is generally reserved for the larger corporate organisations.

Here are a few main benefits of above the line advertising:

  • Brand awareness – ATL is best for boosting brand awareness on a very large scale and has an impressive impact on brand recognition by consumers. It’s virtually impossible to build a very well-known brand without this form of advertising campaign.
  • Attention grabbing – With a combination of audio and visual which is used in above the line advertising the attention-grabbing quality is boosted to levels not reached with other forms of advertising. This is because audio and visual demand attention from the consumer.
  • Reach – No other form of advertising is as effective in reaching a large audience than ATL advertising. Brands that use above the line advertising are almost always guaranteed great returns on investment.

Below the line advertising benefits

Although not as ‘flashy’ or ‘in-your-face’ as above the line advertising, BTL is very effective in building positive conversations and creating customer loyalty.  Below the line advertising allows you to create custom-built engagement that speaks directly to your customer.

Here are a few more benefits of below the line advertising:

  • Focus on segments – With below the line advertising it’s easier to focus on particular segments of your audience and to effectively target a specific market.
  • Good measure – BTL advertising is highly measurable and gives the marketer great insight into their audience. This often results in good return on investment with marketing campaigns.  Being able to track click-through-rates, for example, is a great hands-on measurement of your advertising.
  • Building relationships – Being able to design engagement with your target audience in mind is extremely beneficial into building customer loyalty as your marketing efforts will seem as though they are speaking to them personally.

Which way to go? Below the line or above the line?

What it all boils down to is getting the most of whichever marketing campaign you decide best suits your needs and, of course, your advertising budget.  Most companies currently integrate above the line advertising as well as below the line promotional activities.  Again, it all comes down to budget.

However, it’s been proven that above the line advertising is not necessarily the best route to go when marketing your business.  Although it is seen as the quickest route to achieving brand recognition, recent trends show that a gradual increase in below the line advertising is proving really effective and can also be a great return on investment.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

With all the pros and cons taken into account with above and below the line forms of advertising, it’s mostly advised that to integrate a combination of both is the best way to achieve success with your marketing efforts. The National Certificate of Advertising, which is run by the Digital School of Marketing, will help you get the marketing knowledge you need in order to run effective below the line and above the line campaigns. For more information, follow this link.

DSM registration advertising and digital marketing course