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Media and Communications

Below the line (advertising)

Below the line (advertising)


Above the line, below the line, and through
the line, in organizational business and marketing communications, are advertising techniques,
or different strategies companies use to sell their products. In a nutshell, while ATL communications use
media that are broadcast and published to mass audiences, BTL communication use media
that are more niche focused. While both ATL and BTL communications can
be used to either build brand awareness or drive sales through specific offers, it is
BTL interaction that gives the marketer the ability to tailor their messaging in a more
personal manner to the audience. ATL promotions are also difficult to measure
well, while BTL promotions are highly measurable, giving marketers valuable insights into their
return-on-investment. These insights can then be used to inform
the next BTL communication to the audience and tailor the messaging based on the feedback
received. “Through the line” refers to an advertising
strategy involving both above and below the line communications. This strategic approach allows brands to engage
with a customer at multiple points. This enables an integrated communications
approach where consistent messaging across multiple media create a customer perception. Above the line sales promotion
ATL is a type of advertising through media such as television, cinema, radio, print,
and Out-of-home to promote brands or convey a specific offer. This type of communication is conventional
in its nature and is considered impersonal to customers. It differs from BTL advertising, which uses
unconventional brand-building and promotional strategies, such as direct mail, sales promotions,
flyers, point-of-sale, telemarketing and printed media – and usually involves no motion graphics. It is much more effective than when the target
group is very large and difficult to define. The term comes from top business managers
and involves the way in which Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s biggest advertising clients,
was charged for its media in the 1950s and 1960s. Advertising agencies made commission from
booking media. As below the line had no media involvement
there was no commission to be made for the advertising agencies. The accountants thus labeled the different
media ATL and BTL depending on where it would sit in the balance sheet and profit and loss
accounts Since then, models have changed and clients are no longer charged for their media
in that way. The line
As mentioned above, the line was born out of an accounting definition in terms of above
the line or below the line. Colloquially, ATL means mass media. However the media landscape has shifted so
dramatically that advertisers have reconsidered their definition of mass media. For some marketers the “line” divides the
realm of “Awareness or Attention focused marketing” and that of “Interest + Desire focused marketing”. Since audience numbers in the Interest and
Desire phase of the AIDA sales model narrow down to a fraction of the Awareness audience,
the line could be drawn right below the awareness set of activities. It could also be argued this is a reverse
definition, i.e. the Line came before the above definition did. The Line more likely refers to the profit
line of the agency, with above the line activities being more profitable for advertising agencies,
and below the line activities of little value to agencies since they didn’t involve large
budgets and hefty kickbacks from media buying houses. Below the line sales promotion
BTL sales promotion is an immediate or delayed incentive to purchase, expressed in cash or
in kind, and having short duration. It is efficient and cost-effective for targeting
a limited and specific group. It uses less conventional methods than the
usual ATL channels of advertising, typically focusing on direct means of communication,
most commonly direct mail and e-mail, often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize
response rates. BTL services may include those for which a
fee is agreed upon and charged up front. BTL is a common technique used for “touch
and feel” products. BTL techniques ensures recall of the brand
while at the same time highlighting the features of the product. Another BTL technique involves sales personnel
deployed at retail stores near targeted products. This technique may be used to generate trials
of newly launched products. It helps marketers establish one-to-one relationship
with consumers while mass promotions, by definition, make it difficult to gauge consumer-response,
except at the time of sales. Examples include tele-marketing, road shows,
promotions, in- shop and shop-front activities, display units. 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. 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 often using highly targeted lists of names to maximize
response rates. 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.’ Through the line
More recently, in the past 5 to 6 years, agencies and clients have switched to an “Integrated
Communication Approach”, or “through the line” approach. TTL is a neologism describing an existing
process, according to Altaf Jasnaik, Brand Marketing and Communications specialist. In the TTL approach, a mix of ATL and BTL
are used to integrate a marketer’s efforts and optimize returns from these separate investments. This switch in the TTL approach has shifted
its emphasis more towards BTL. The idea remains to optimize the return on
marketing budget spent by focusing one’s energy on winning smaller yet more crucial BTL battles
than ATL wars with well-funded competition. A few examples are: bus stand hoardings, pamphlets,
small informational sheets along with the newspaper, etc. See also
Above the line Below the line

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