What is Above the Line Marketing (ATL) vs Below the Line Marketing (BTL) vs Through the Line Marketing (TTL)?

Above the Line Marketing (ATL)

Defined as widespread mass audience brand-building advertising. It is referred to as promotional activities done at the macro level. Television, cinema, radio, newspapers, and magazines are used to create an impact on the company and its product. Described as conventional in nature.

Below the Line (BTL)

Defined as Highly Targeted Direct Marketing focused on conversions. In contrast to ATL, this marketing targets specific groups of people with focus – done at the micro level. Direct mailing, distribution of flyers, brochures, and usage of sponsorships, public relations, telemarketing and point of sale – these are some of the non-media communication ways used. Described as unconventional in nature.

Through the Line Marketing (TTL)

Defined as Integrating ATL and BTL Marketing Campaigns. Involving both above and below the line communications is a strategic approach that allows brands to engage with a customer at multiple points. This strategic method is a combination of a customer seeing a TV commercial, hearing an advert on the radio and handed a flyer on the street which provides consistent messaging across multiple media creating customer perception.

What are the Differences between ATL, BTL and TTL

Above The Line, ATL Marketing refers to untargeted, massive campaigns to raise brand awareness and reach more people; while Below The Line, BTL Marketing, refers to the much smaller and highly targeted world of ads, aimed at individuals and with easy to track returns on investment and a definitive audience; and finally, through the Line Marketing, as you can imagine, uses both of these approaches to gain both widespread band awareness and focused, targeted returns.

These types of marketing have their own pros and cons and are better suited to different companies and their needs at different times. To be sure of which is the best for you, take the time to think about what the needs of your brand truly are, and if you need any further assistance with this, we are happy to help guide you to the type of marketing that is right for you!

Is Digital Below the Line or Above the Line Marketing?

This is a perfect example, on Twitter, the social media platform, you can respond directly to people, retweet their messages and build individual relationships, all this while sharing your thoughts with a larger group.

To answer the BIG question does Twitter fall ATL or BTL? It is a mixture however you need to apply the rules of ATL advertising and adhere to new, more personal, social mores.
Interestingly businesses that once spent loads of money devising, testing and rolling out ad campaigns to raise their profile and build their brand. Now going digital allows them to broadcast thousands of online messages every year and the main cost is time.

This is an online evolution whereby online marketing platforms straddle the old marketing divide. Valuable lessons learned over many years around above and below the line marketing are currently still relevant. The media has changed, however, no matter how you send your messages to your audience, should be either on one side of the line or the other.

What are ATL and BTL activities?

ATL activities

Above the line (ATL), marketing includes mass marketing strategies which are largely untargeted and are focused on building the brand. By ‘untargeted’ we mean that the communication isn’t directed towards a specific group. The mediums convey the message to everyone who has access to them.

  • ATL marketing strategies uses traditional marketing mediums such as TV, Print Media, Radio
  • ATL marketing strategies are targeted towards a large set of audience. It is an effective medium to reach out the masses.
  • ATL marketing mediums are quite expensive. A slot at prime time will put a hole in your pockets.
  • One of the loopholes of ATL marketing is that deliverables cannot be measured. Though the investment in ATL marketing campaigns is considerable, there is no sure shot way to measure your return on investment (ROI)
  • ATL marketing activities give incredible brand exposure in a short period of time since it grants exposure to a wide set of audience.
  • ATL marketing strategies are ideal if you want to send across a message to the audience. Simply put, ATL medium only facilitates one-way communication. So if you are seeking to send a quick message to your target group then ATL marketing is your best option.

BTL activities

Below the line (BLT) activities are used to promote the product and give the much-desired hike to stay ahead of the competition. BTL activations induce a list of activities that uses innovative ideas to engage its audiences. In the earlier times, BTL marketing activities revolve around direct mail campaigns, trade shows, catalogs, brand promotion activities, telemarketing, free sampling & exhibitions.

But, in this digital era, BTL activities have taken a notch higher with out of the box ideas and approaches to reach the target market with digitalized brand promotion activities and search engine marketing. Instagram Hashtag Printers and Social or Tweet Cafe are being used extensively as a part of BTL marketing strategy to engage a larger audience base around the globe.

BTL marketing activities allow brands to connect with their customers on an emotional level. It allows customers and brands to know each other in a more refined way while giving exposure and loyal customers to a brand.

  • BTL marketing strategies on the other hand uses off-beat mediums. Some of the branches of BTL marketing are telemarketing, internet marketing, in store visual merchandising, brand activation, exhibitions etc.
  • BTL advertising is the best option if you want to reach out to a specific set audience. BTL marketing activities give you access to address and communicate to a specific target group. This ensures that your message is communicated to the right people at the right time. For example, BTL activities for retail stores gives you direct access to your customers
  • When compared to ATL marketing activities, BTL marketing is relatively budget-friendly.
  • BTL uses Shopper Insight to refine campaigns
  • One of the perks of indulging in BTL advertising is that you can accurately measure your deliverables. You can exactly measure your ROI with BTL marketing.
  • BTL marketing not just gives brand exposure but it also adds credibility to the brand. It is a tremendous brand-building activity.
  • The reason why many brands prefer BTL marketing is because it enables two-way communication between the brand and the consumer. BTL advertising gives a chance for brands to conduct a dialogue with their customers, hence laying a foundation for a healthy brand-customer relationship.

When it comes to marketing there isn’t a 1 size fits all approach, some companies might have great success in Above the Line Activities but when you add Below the Line it increases effectiveness.

Everything depends on how well marketers read the market and whether there is a fit between the customer and the communication.


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