Thursday, January 10, 2008


These terms may have simple definitions as will be given below, but constantly one tends to misinterpret the different forms of promotions and advertising as above-the-line or below-the-line.

In an attempt to try and solve the confusion, let us look at a few different angles.

Above the line-advertising
is allocated to television, radio, press, outdoor and cinema advertising

Below the line-advertising
promotions, direct marketing, sponsorship and public relations

Origins of the term refer back to the balance sheet – Above the Line advertising costs are part of ‘costs of sales’ and are deducted before Gross Profit is determined, non-commission baring advertising is part of the operating expenses and is deducted before Net Profit is determined.

Another way to view it is 'concept' delivery versus 'tactile' delivery.

So a concept media is one where you transmit ideas but nothing concrete ever passes to your audience - radio, tv, billboards and even most newspaper ads.

Tactile delivery is giving the audience something they can actually touch - so coupons, direct mail, product samples.

ATL tends to be visual/auditory where as BTL usually excludes auditory but includes sight, smell, touch, and even taste.

Through the line (TTL) 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.

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