Deciding on where to allocate your marketing budget? Consider how Above-The-Line (ATL) and Below-The-Line (BTL) marketing works, and which is better for your business, with Koozai’s latest Infographic. Updated MARCH 2022
What is Above The Line Advertising?
Above the line advertising refers to advertising messages that are broadcast to ‘the masses’ without any sophisticated form of targeting.
These messages go out to large audiences via traditional offline media such as TV ads, radio, newspapers, magazines and out of home billboards.
The potential reach of these messages is huge, particularly if they are broadcast on a popular tv channel at prime time, or in a large-circulation national newspaper.
For this reason, above the line channels are well suited to brand-building as there is an opportunity to get in front of potentially hundreds of millions of eyes.
The disadvantages of above-the-line largely relate to cost; prime time slots demand prime rates and it can be difficult to track back your investment. There is also little opportunity to target in any sophisticated way; of course certain television channels can be selected based on audience. Similarly, certain regional print publications can be use to target specific geographical areas, but targeting is severely limited compared to below-the-line channels.
A simplistic way to think of above-the-line channels are to see them as ‘push’ channels, i.e. channels that can be used to ‘push’ out messaging in an unsolicited manner to audiences that possibly haven’t shown any prior interest in a brand or product.
This makes it ideal for making people aware of a brand or product, that previously weren’t aware.
What is Below The Line Advertising?
Below the line advertising refers to messages that are delivered to specific audiences.
The specificity of that audience depends on the channel being used to deliver the message, for example, paid advertising services allow advertisers to target based on various different demographics such as age, gender, and location.
This means that below the line channels are ideal for delivering highly targeted product messages to much smaller audiences that are likely to convert as a direct result of the advertising message.
Furthermore, below-the-line advertising can be tracked much more accurately and easily than above the line. The data available means that marketers can trace the precise ROI or a particular message, or campaign, which means below-the-line advertising spend can be scrutinised.
Typically, above the line is used in the awareness and consideration stages. Whilst some of this advertising will go onto ‘convert’ this will usually be significantly further on down the customer journey. These activities really build the first stages of the funnel. Below the line activities are much more audience centric and the intention behind the engagement shows that there is the opportunity to convert these users.
We have talked a lot about measurement between above the line and below the line activities and so this is outlined in more depth here. From the graphic, you can see there are more ways of measuring your marketing activities with below the line advertising options. This allows you more insight and greater control over your budget. Knowing who your customer is and when they are engaged will make the world of difference when it comes to your results.
Below the line activities have more data and give you great insight as well as being spread out over more channels. In a digital world, the need for below the line activities is really non-negotiable and a business that does not take these into account would be at a serious disadvantage. Regardless, it is likely that any potential audience will look on the web for your business and so you need to be there to capitalise on any above the line activities online as well.
The cost is often key to any decisions that are made within Marketing. The general rule is that the above the line activities are much greater in terms of investment. Often agencies will also take a commission on any opportunities that are secured, and the budget needed to make an impact will be substantial.
Below the line activities are open to lower budgets and give a better chance to all, rather than being dominated by players in the market with far deeper pockets. Although the costs are higher on above the line activities, more money is spent now on online advertising than ever before. Digital is big business and with a world that is likely to have continuing restrictions for the foreseeable future, this will only increase as time goes on.
People are more likely to be swayed into conversions if they have been actively searching for your product or service, that you are there when they search and that your online presence is both credible and optimised. Landing on the right page is usually where most conversions start. People’s buying decisions are shown to be massively influenced by a blog, for example, and being there to fulfil the needs of your audience will set you in good stead for future success – as well as the all-important bottom line!
From all that has been discussed above, you can see that there is considerable merit in using below the line activities to drive your business. There are more metrics readily available and campaigns and outreach are far easier to measure. Below the line advertising is also a substantial revenue driver for many businesses so in our eyes this is the clear winner.
Before spending or testing without certainty, it’s important to know what will work for your business. We’ve aimed to showcase how above the line [ATL] and below the line [BTL] works when it comes to marketing and advertising, to make your decision that little bit easier. Segmented into various sections, the visual compares and explores:
- The various methods employed by each marketing group
- How each type works, and where they are best used within the audience’s buying cycle
- How you can measure each marketing group
- The cost associated to your business