When it comes to advertising, the often used terms are Above The Line (ATL) and Below The Line (BTL) where advertising and promotional activities are placed above and below an imaginary line which one can assume to be the neutral line. The neutral line signifies the nil status of no promotions or no advertising.
ATL comprises of traditional advertising activities like TV commercials, radio, Hoardings, Print ads etc that relates to communicating with a wide audience, while BTL comprises of a one to one activity with your customer or core group. Activities like surveys, roadshows, stalls, handing of brochures, pamphlets, product sample distribution, and product demonstrations etc.
The primary difference between the two being one is reaching out in mass to a wide audience and the other is one where the activities are one to one. Also, while ATL sticks to more conventional methods of advertising, BTL activities can be more unconventional as it provides the space to be more adoptive to the different audience. For example, BTL could serve well when it’s a niche audience or when you are talking to small groups in different environments, namely urban, semi-rural or rural settings.
The emergence of smart phones and spread of internet has given the apparatus and the captive audience to whom one can communicate in mass. You can send out millions of mails or reach out to millions of social media users and YouTube viewers and directly communicate to them on a one to one basis when required. Digital media has also opened the doors to an entire new audience that spans the whole globe, so don’t be surprised when you start getting enquiries and leads from potential customers from various parts of the world.
In effect, the convergence point for ATL & BTL is online and the way forward lies in higher engagements in digital media.