Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing

    atl btl ttl marketing

    Marketing activities (basically advertisements) today can be divided into three segments – Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing. The line was originally used to separate marketing activities which had mass penetration (above the line) to those which had specific penetration (below the line). But then, because of the increased competition and development in technology, emerged through the line marketing activities which blurs the line and include the use of both ATL & BTL advertising activities.

    ATL, BTL, & TTL Advertising

    Advertising activities can be differentiated on the basis of marketing motives, target groups, and the budget of the marketer.

    Above the Line

    Above the Line advertising (often referred as Above the Line promotion/ Above the Line marketing/ ATL marketing/ ATL advertising) consist of advertising activities that are largely non-targeted and have a wide reach. ATL communication is done to build the brand and inform the customers about the product. Conversions are given less importance in above the line advertising.

    To make it simpler-

    Above the line 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 an access to them.

    Examples of Above the Line Promotion


    An average American watches 4.3 hours of TV in a day. It’s the similar case with the rest of the world. TV advertisements have a reach from local, to national, and international audience depending on the TV channel and the contract between the parties. TV advertisements have a better connection with the users as moving images with audio are preferred over still images or audio alone.


    Psychologists tell us that consumers need to be exposed to an advertising message at least three times before it begins to penetrate. No other media other than radio provide such affordability when it comes to this frequency.

    Radio is a perfect option for marketers to fulfill all the frequency and creative demands of an advertisement. Radio to have a local, national, and international reach just like TVs.

    Print Advertisements (magazine & newspaper)

    Local, regional and national print media have a wider reach than any of the other mediums. Newspapers have fixed ad-slots that are used by the marketers to inform customers / prospective customers about the brand or offers.

    Magazines exist in niches and make it easier for marketers to reach their niche directly through them.

    Advantages of Above the line marketing

    Wider Reach

    Above the line advertising mediums have a wide (national/international) reach.

    Better Connect with the audience

    The mediums like TV and radio use audio-visuals which have a better connect with the audience.

    Brand Building

    Media advertising is a crucial tool in defining and realizing brand identity. A brand is built by the customers. The role of marketers in brand building is to reach as many prospective customers as they can and communicate to them about the brand and its benefits creatively. Above the line marketing, hence, plays an integral role when it comes to brand building.

    Below the Line

    Below-the-line advertising (often referred as Below the Line promotion/ Below the Line marketing / BTL marketing / BTL advertising) consists of very specific, memorable and direct advertising activities focused on targeted groups of consumers.  Often known as direct marketing strategies, below the line strategies focus more on conversions than on building the brand.

    To make it simpler –

    Below the line marketing include direct marketing strategies directed to specific target groups and focused on conversions rather than building the brand.

    Examples of Below the Line Promotion

    Outdoor Advertising

    Outdoor advertising is usually done in public places and are constantly on display, have a greater (and more targeted) reach depending on the locations. They include Flags, Banners, Wraps, Billboards, etc.

    colgate shotgun approach Marketing activities (basically advertisements) can be divided into - Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing

    Direct Mail Marketing

    One of the most personal strategies used by marketers, direct mails (e-mails, text messages, etc.) are tailor-made messages about the brand or different offers drafted according to the needs of each customer. Hence this BTL strategy could result in more conversions if planned properly.


    Sponsorship is a partnership with different corporates or events to get more impressions and is usually carried as a part of brand building strategies at a BTL level.

    sponsorship Marketing activities (basically advertisements) can be divided into - Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing

    Brand Activation

    Brand Activation is the art of driving consumer action through brand interaction and experiences. The key aim of these campaigns is to get consumers to act and to bring brands to life via experiences and forming long-term emotional connections.

    brand activation Marketing activities (basically advertisements) can be divided into - Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing

    In Store Marketing

    Marketing activities done within the retail store are called In-store marketing activities. These below the line activities make use of various point of sales to get the most return out of the investments.

    Advantages of Below the line marketing

    Extremely Targeted

    Conversions are better when the communication is done according to the customer wants. Since BTL marketing strategies are extremely targeted, results are better in terms of conversions.

    Better ROI

    Below the line promotional efforts are focused on the specific target group, have a better reach, can be easily executed, tracked, and controlled. Hence BTL strategies provide a better ROI and MROI in terms of conversion.

    Easy Control

    The return from these activities can be easily tracked and monitored and steps can be taken to improve ROI.


    Below the line advertising strategies are designed according to the needs of a specific target group and hence can be molded differently for different customer groups.

    Through the Line

    Through the Line advertising (often referred as Through the Line promotion/ Through the Line marketing / TTL marketing / TTL advertising) involves the use of both ATL & BTL marketing strategies. The recent consumer trend in the market requires integration of both ATL & BTL strategies for better results.

    To make it simper-

    Through the marketing involves marketers to create marketing campaigns which include both ATL & BTL  strategies. It refers to 360-degree advertising where campaigns are developed with the vision of brand building as well as conversions.

    Sometimes above the line strategies are used to execute their direct marketing strategies. This too comes under TTL marketing.

    Examples of Through the Line Promotion

    360° Marketing

    Marketing strategies can be planned and carried out with an integrated approach of using both ATL & BTL advertising mediums to get the maximum advantage. Most of the marketing campaigns today are TTL campaigns.

    Digital Marketing

    It is possible to carry out a digital marketing strategy which offers above the line marketing benefits while acting as a below the line communication to the customer. This type of advertising is cookie based. Users get the communication based on their needs/wants/choices. This strategy has a better ROI and is considered better by the consumer.

    Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

    Did we miss something?  Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing in the comments section.

    About the author

    Aashish Pahwa

    A marketer, a dreamer, a traveler and a philomath. I prefer stargazing to spending nights in clubs.

    Aloka Pieris - September 16, 2017

    Thanks a lot Aashish…..Your article gave better insights to ATL, BTL and TTL

    V Srikanth - October 10, 2017

    Crisp, concise and clear information shared

    Sadaf - October 15, 2017

    Thanks for the well-written information specially the examples.

    I am confused that why you guys select the billboard example in below the line, I mean why not on above the line?

      Aashish Pahwa - October 15, 2017

      Hi Sadaf,

      We’re glad that you liked the article. Billboards, according to us, can be categorized as ATL or BTL depending upon the area it is installed in. We’ve listed billboards as BTL as billboards are more location and target group specific and are installed in the places where there are more visitors who belong to the target group.

    nour hamdan - December 11, 2017

    Thank you so much very helpfull information

    Tawheed Mohammad Sayyid - January 27, 2018

    Hey. Thanks for the write up. Could you tell me the difference between 360 degree marketing and digital marketing? Both sounds same to me.

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