Below the line (BTL), Above the line (ATL), and Through the Line (TTL), in organizational business and marketing communications, are advertising techniques.
Promotion can be loosely classified as "above the line" or "below the line".
Promotional activities carried out through mass media, such as television, radio and newspaper, are classed as above the line promotion.
The terms "below the line" promotion or communications, refers to forms of non-media communication, even non-media advertising. Below the line promotions are becoming increasingly important within the communications mix of many companies, not only those involved in FMCG products, but also for industrial goods.
"Through the line" refers to an advertising strategy involving both above and below the line communications in which one form of advertising points the target to another form of advertising thereby crossing the "line". An example would be a TV commercial that says 'come into the store to sample XYZ product'. In this example, the TV commercial is a form of "above the line" advertising and once in the store, the target customer is presented with "below the line" promotional material such as store banners, competition entry forms, etc..
Above the line sales promotion
Above the line is a type of advertising through media such as TV, cinema, radio, print, banners and search engines to promote brands. Major uses include television and radio advertising, web and Internet banner ads. This type of communication is conventional in nature and is considered impersonal to customers. It differs from Below the line advertising, which believes in unconventional brand-building strategies, such as direct mail and printed media (and usually involve no motion graphics).
The term comes from top business managers and involves the way in which Procter and Gamble, one of the world’s biggest advertising clients, was charged for its media in the 1950s and 1960s. Advertising agencies made so much commission from booking media for clients that the creative generation and actual production costs of making TV ads was free – hence above the line. Everything else they paid for and was therefore below the line. Since then, models have changed and clients are no longer charged for their media in that way. Used loosely, above the line still means mass media. However the media landscape has shifted so dramatically that advertisers have reconsidered the definitions of mass media.
For some retail giants the definition of the line is "their floor space" where they convert footfall to purchase. Loosely put, everything done prior to a customer's actual entry into a retail outlet is ATL for some retailers, as they define shop-floor activities as the true BTL set of activities which decide on which brand sells eventually.
Below the line sales promotion
Below the line sales promotions are short-term incentives, largely aimed at consumers. With the increasing pressure on the marketing team to achieve communication objectives more efficiently in a limited budget, there has been a need to find out more effective and cost efficient ways to communicate with the target markets. This has led to a shift from the regular media based advertising. In other words, below-the-line sales promotion is an immediate or delayed incentive to purchase, expressed in cash or in kind, and having only a short term or temporary duration.
Below the Line uses less conventional methods than the usual specific channels of advertising to promote products, services, etc. than Above the Line strategies. These may include activities such as direct mail, public relations and sales promotions for which a fee is agreed upon and charged up front. Below the line advertising typically focuses on direct means of communication, most commonly direct mail and e-mail, often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize response rates.
Another interesting and very effective BTL is Ssop Intercept. Trained sales personnel, often young women, are deployed at Retail Stores, near the shelves of targeted products. These young women convince customers visiting these shelves about the better aspects of their brand compared with others. This is ideal for new launches as it generates trials, which if successful result in repeat sales.
In addition,above the line is much more effective when the target group is very large and difficult to define. But if the target group is limited and specific, it is always advisable to use BTL promotions for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Say, for example, if a pen manufacturer is going to promote its product, it may take the ATL route, but if a company manufactures computer UPS, it will certainly take the BTL route, as the target group is very limited and specific.
More recently, agencies and clients have switched to an 'Integrated Communication Approach.' BTL is a common technique used for "touch and feel" products (consumer items where the customer will rely on immediate information rather than previously researched items). BTL techniques ensures recall of the brand while at the same time highlighting the features of the product.
Content resourced from Wikipedia. 2010 / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Below_the_line_(advertising)