One of the first few things that a budding marketer should know is above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) advertising strategy. Proctor & Gamble first introduced these advertising strategies in the year 1954. The merits of both advertising strategies have given a new through-the-line (TTL) advertising strategy. Let us get into the detail of each advertising strategy through this blog.

Above-the-line (ATL) advertising strategy

This advertising strategy is used for brand building exercise, for creating brand awareness and for increasing and/or restoring goodwill among the masses.

This strategy is employed when the target group is not clearly known and when the target group is highly scattered among the audience. Brands in FMCG, e-Commerce sectors generally uses ATL advertising strategy to reach its target group among the bigger pool of audience by putting ads on television, radio, newspaper, billboards to reach to a wider section of the audience. The downside of ATL strategy is that such advertisement may be relevant only to a small section of its target group, thus having a lower conversion and a high spillover rate.

The effectiveness of ATL advertising can be evaluated using the following parameters – ad recall lift, increase in brand awareness, increase in brand equity.

Through a series of advertisements, Nestle relaunched its 2-minute instant Maggi noodle product in India by banking on the Company’s 150-year legacy and emotional quotient to regain its lost brand image and goodwill.

Below-the-line (BTL) advertising strategy

This advertising strategy is more of a one-to-one campaign by employing salesman in the ground to reach its target group. This strategy is employed when the target group is identified and is concentrated in a single location. This advertising strategy is also employed when marketing spend budget is limited or constrained.

This advertising strategy employs door-to-door sales demonstration, telemarketing, tradeshows, exhibitions, point-of-sale (POS) promotions, direct mailing or messaging, leaflet/pamphlet/catalog distribution, remarketing, Pay-per-click (PPC). Each BTL advertising will have specific call-to-action specified in the advertisement. The spillover rate and the cost of advertising are lower in this strategy compared to ATL advertising strategy.

The effectiveness of BTL advertising can be evaluated by conversion rates for door-to-door sales demonstration, telemarketing, tradeshows, exhibitions, POS promotions. Footfall is also a measure of the success of trade show/exhibition. Open rates can be used for email/ SMS marketing and Click-through rate (CTR) for PPC and remarketing ads.

Example of BTL advertisement

In the above advertisement, there is a clear call-to-action number mentioned to the target group.

Through-the-line (TTL) advertising strategy

TTL advertising strategy is a mix of both ATL and BTL advertising strategies i.e. to reach a wider target group with a specific call-to-action in the advertisement for a higher conversion.

Companies which are into Car manufacturing, real estate, telecom generally adopt this advertising strategy to reach a wider audience through a mass media with a specific call-to-action in the advertisement.

A key difference between ATL and TTL advertising strategy is that of an inclusion of a specific call-to-action in the advertisement. A call-to-action can be Call for a demo, Visit a showroom, Learn more about the product and services, Download an app etc.

In the above advertisement, there is a clear call-to-action message for the mass audience to download the app for purchasing any of their requirements through their store.

I am a Google AdWords certified Sales & Marketing professional, with a penchant for digital and futuristic marketing, from Chennai, India. I have in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in marketing along with running a results-oriented marketing campaign. Blogging and Mentoring are my passion.

ATL, BTL, TTL advertising strategy
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