Above the line (ATL), Below the line (BTL), and Through the line (TTL), the terms still exist, but what about the line itself?
I have noticed that the line thinking still exists, you still find agencies or marketers planning their budgets dividing them between ATL and BTL, hiring an agency for each, or even when using one agency to develop the full solution TTL, they ask them to keep a clear definition between budgets used for each.
If this is too technical, let me define each first:
Where did the”Line” come from?
Initially the line used to differentiate between media that pay 15% commission rate to the agencies (mainly ATL) and the meida that do not.
Does the line still exist today though?
I see it existing as in our terminology more than our practice, especially with the web’s (online advertising) arrival which actually does it all, web can be BTL (reach individuals) through sponsorships, newsletters, and e-dms, and yet can be ATL (reach millions of people) through podcasts, websites, flash microsites, and full page ads and so on. The web is narrow and broad at the same time, so either the web is the line, or it simply does not see it.
Another aspect you may note is that TV has become interactive already, and radio has become a responsive medium by itself.
To meet todays requirements, marketing strategists have to think integrated campaigns. They actually have been doing so more often recently, Integrated approach is basically BTL, ATL, and Web all together or can be only Web – I seriously cannot think of something print or radio or even TV can do and web cannot do even better.
Each medium is pointing to the other, all with an interactive manner to a certain extent. TV competitions on the web and phone, Radio advertising through SMS or emailers and the so on, examples are many just look around you.
The rise of the integrated approach is making the line fade away slowly, and soon it will cease to exist.
So why do we still hear ATL / BTL?
I think because planners and marketers are used to the terms for one, and because there is lack of those of who understand all mediums (including web) thoroughly to plan an integrated campaign, making it easier for them to divide their campaigns between ATL and BTL – actually their only shelter.
Why don’t all marketing planners develop integrated campaigns (without web)?
Being in the field of online advertising, I hear that a lot, so let us shoot these reasons one by one:
It is simple, the more integrated you are, the more reach you will make, hence the more you will achieve. The more “line” you apply, the narrower your look at the different mediums will be, keeping in mind it does not apply today because as explained, the mediums themselves have changed.