ATL, BTL and TTL Advertising

ATL (above the line) and BTL (below the line) are two terms often used every day in the field of media buying and advertising and people tend to get confused about them.

So, to start off, here are quick definitions of ATL, BTL and TTL marketing:

  • ATL marketing definition: above-the-line marketing – widespread brand-building advertising.
  • BTL marketing definition: below-the-line marketing – highly targeted direct marketing focused on conversions.
  • TTL marketing definition: through-the-line marketing- integrated ATL and BTL marketing campaigns.

Now, let’s talk in detail about each one of them.

  • Above the Line Advertising

When we create a media plan, it’s important that we think about the media reach we want to have.

In ATL marketing, traditional, high-reach media is used such as television, radio, print media, and the Internet.

The main purpose of ATL advertising is to build brand awareness. It’s mostly used to promote brands and reach out to the wider group of consumers as it has a very broad reach and is largely untargeted. Think about a national TV campaign, where viewers across the nation see the same advert aired across the various networks.

  • Below the Line Advertising

BTL is more personal and response-driven. It targets specific groups of people with focus. Basically, it is using more direct advertising approaches such as a leaflet drop in a specific area, door to door sales, a Google AdWords campaign targeting a certain group or a direct telemarketing campaign targeting specific businesses.

This kind of marketing is best for conversions and direct response.

Sometimes in case of lower budgets, marketing departments could decide to use a BTL approach.  This could be a bad decision if a brand is completely new. So, it is better to reach at least some level of brand awareness in public before using BTL ads. 

In cases of the very niche target groups, BTL advertising is a better and more cost-efficient solution.

  • Through the Line Advertising

TTL is in fact an integrated approach, where a company would use both BTL and ATL marketing methods to reach their customer base, increase brand awareness, and generate conversions.

It is a kind of 360° Marketing where the different aspects of marketing are linked together to reach the wider customer base and generate the leads. TTL Marketing emphasis more on BTL Marketing, but it also makes use of the ATL advertising strategy.

It is basically the term TTL developed with the emerging of the concept of digital marketing and the boundaries between ATL and BTL were gone. This kind of marketing delivers both a wide reach and a focus on conversions.

So, to make it clearer and remove any confusion, above the line: ‘brand building’ based advertising, below the line: direct, response-driven marketing and through the line: ATL methods designed to feed leads into BTL based campaigns


It seems simple enough and it definitely works like that in practice, most of the time anyway.

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