ATL, BTL, and TLL… what do all these letters even mean? Marketers have two core methods when executing market activities: above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) activities. ATL directly communicates to the mass market, while BTL is more focused on distinct groups.
However, as consumer trends shifted, marketers had to find integrated approaches to communicate with both audience groups. Thus, through-the-line (TTL) marketing was born.
ATL marketing is also known as above-the-line marketing. It is the process of directly communicating to your mass-market, be it on a regional, national, or international level. The messages executed through ATL marketing are not targeted or aimed at certain focus groups. ATL marketing builds brand visibility and raises brand awareness.
It has a better outreach to wide audiences and helps when building and defining brand identity. ATL can be conducted via the following methods:
Television: Most people spend at least 4 hours a day watching television, making TV advertisements an extremely popular method amongst marketers. Brands spend millions on advertising on television, both on a local and international level.
Commercial TV Ads have a great way of etching themselves in your memory for life. One of the most popular commercials of its time that is still remembered by most is Budweiser’s ‘Wassup’ ad.
Print Advertisements: This includes newspapers, magazines, and brochures. Newspapers have fixed ad-slots where brands and businesses can post their advertisements. The more colorful and attractive these are, the better.
Depending on the type of print media you use, it has the potential to reach a very specific niche. For instance, magazines like Vogue are predominantly read by women; therefore, most of its featured ads will target feminine products.
Outdoor Advertisements: Normally, outdoor advertising is done in public places, on billboards, flags, banners, etc.
Depending on the location of the display, outdoor advertising can have a vast and repetitive reach.
Unlike ATL, below-the-line (BTL) marketing focuses on targeted groups. It is often referred to as a direct marketing strategy because its primary aim is to generate conversions. BTL marketing consists of precise and memorable advertising activities targeted at specific groups.
In-Store Marketing: Typically, the aim is to utilize as many points of sale as possible and see the efforts reflected in the ROI.
Direct Mail Marketing: Marketers try to utilize all the communication tools available, including emails and messages. These emails tend to be personalized and drafted according to the needs of every customer or every specific group of customers.
Sponsorship: This form of advertisement is often seen during events like sports games, whereby a specific brand sponsors the match in return for publicity.
As the years go by, consumer trends change, and marketers must reflect those changes in their advertising efforts. Based on the current consumer trends, marketers have realized that integrating both ATL and BTL marketing is necessary. So, they named the new integrated model TTL, also known as through-the-line marketing.
Creating campaigns that integrate both methods includes having to consider both the brand building as well as conversions.
360° Marketing: As the name suggests, this form of marketing aims to reach customers or leads at all possible points of contact. This holistic approach allows you to shape the customers’ entire journey – from discovery to purchase.
Digital Marketing: Although relatively broad, the concept behind digital marketing is that you deliver advertisements through all the possible channels but with targeted ads.
The advantages of ATL advertising include effective brand building, consistent and wide reach, and better connection with the audience through audio-visual channels.
On the other hand, BTL marketing is an excellent strategy because it is strikingly targeted and results in many conversions. Because these activities are targeted, it is far easier to track the effectiveness and measure ROI.
And the most recent addition of TTL has taken marketing and advertising to a whole new level. As a marketer, you can reach your target audience and deliver them tailor-made ads using all digital channels that are available to you. It leaves you a lot of room for creativity, but it also allows you to track your progress.
The bottom line is that while both ATL and BTL are strong and effective strategies individually, they simply upstage any other strategies when integrated into TTL.