Technical advancement, development around Web 2.0, next generation information and communication technologies and the emergence of social media have merged the border between ATL and BTL marketing. Through the line or TTL Marketing, the new buzzword reduces the competitive positions of companies, intensifies consumer engagement and empowers them (Efthymios Constantinides, 2014).
ATL and BTL Marketing – How Are They Different?
Above-the-line ads are aimed at the mass market, and media with mass coverage and reach are traditionally used for ATL ads. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, hoarding, outdoor spaces, and the press are widely used to reach the masses due to their high coverage and level of penetration. They help marketers build brand awareness and information about all new products / services. ATL ads are great for building brands and often turn a local brand into a national brand. A very good example is the advertising of Byju on television and radio where Shahrukh Khan was the endorser and made Byju a national brand. Another example could be the advertisement of the Fogg perfume – “Keya chal raha hai – Fogg chal raha hai”, the slogan repeatedly advertised on TV channels, which significantly increased brand awareness across the country.
Advertising below the line has its own advantages. Often referred to as direct marketing, BTL ads are created to reach a specific target audience and use direct mail, telephone, event sponsorships, and in-store advertising. Various point of sale promotions such as coupons, free samples are used to get customers to react instantly to the ad and provide very high return on investment. These types of ads can be personalized and can be good rescues for local brands and businesses with limited ad budgets. Due to its ability to reach a specific target audience, BTL promotions are easily tracked, controlled, and returns can be measured. Personal selling and door-to-door selling are also types of BTL marketing. Dominoes, Swiggy are great in BTL advertising where businesses send offers, discounts to specific target customers, and more coupons are sent to those who buy frequently.
What is TTL marketing and how is the line between ATL and BTL blurred?
TTL marketing is an integrated marketing approach in which alongside mass promotion the ad campaign has a component to respond directly to the ad. For example, placing an ad on social media has a wider reach and makes it possible to reach the business with one click.
The advertising of ISME, a top B School doctoral program on the Facebook page, is a prime example of TTL advertising where the teaching fraternity, as well as company staff, are targeted. Facebook has a wide reach and at the same time, through the personal contacts of faculty members, the teaching fraternity is exposed to this post. Facebook is one of the most common social dating platforms, is heavily used by people, and can maintain its dominance on social media platforms. TTL works through popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of them can reach large numbers of people. Through social networking sites, interested people can share any favorite ad in their circles and be able to generate leads. The option to turn any paid ad to organic ad is available, once the campaign can hit a certain number of clicks and share. TTL has all the benefits of BTL Ads where a business can measure the number of webpage visits, reaction or subscribers in a blog post, click-through rate in all digital ads, and sponsorship. Although the visual appeal, impression and image created by a TV ad nowhere compares to the impression created by an advertisement posted on social media.
Is Social Media Marketing The Same As TTL Marketing?
Social media marketing and digital marketing have broken down the barrier between ATL and BTL that was once invented by Proctor and gamble in 1954. Social media is categorized into different categories based on social presence, media richness and self-presentation or self-disclosure. Youtube is classified under the category of content communities, Facebook is an example of a social networking site, LinkedIn is known as a professional community, Twitter is a microblogging site. (Kaplan and Heinlein, 2010; Mangold and Faulds 2009).
According to Felix, Philipp A. Rauschnabel, Chris Hinsch (2016), social media marketing is an interdisciplinary, cross-functional concept that uses social media (often in combination with other communication channels) to achieve organizational goals by creating value for stakeholders. Various social media are used to communicate promotional messages to consumers, end users and other stakeholders. The best part about social media marketing is when the communication is directly shared by other consumers who have experienced the product or service. It adds a lot of credentials, trust and authenticity and acts as a great source of word of mouth for potential consumers. For example, when a student at an institute shares their experience with a prospective student via Facebook or Twitter, the influence is far greater than any other form of advertising. Social media marketing can act like both ATL and BTL. For example, when general Facebook ad campaigns don’t target a very specific niche circle, that’s ATL marketing. But if an ad posted by a business on Facebook is shared by someone close to them, the same message can act as a BTL ad. Likewise, any retweet on a given ad on Twitter works like a below-the-line ad.
Social media acts as a source of customer voice through blogs, online communities, web content, forums, podcasts, etc. These days, marketers are less reliant on traditional methods of collecting customer voices through focus group discussions, surveys, and other market research methods. Influential bloggers who have huge followers are identified by marketers to promote any campaign and they act like great online thought leaders than regular celebrities.
A 360 degree marketing approach called TTL marketing or online marketing has become a buzzword due to the heavy use of digital marketing, digital promotion, and social media marketing. Any ad campaign promoted on a national television showing a toll-free number asking customers to call or a newspaper ad with a QR code to be scanned to place an order are good examples of TTL marketing that offers the benefit of both to strengthen the brand as well as get a high level of conversions. A recent advertisement on Youtube by Loreal on how to tackle sexual harassment in public spaces by joining a training program at “Standup-india.com” is excellent TTL marketing. It can reach masses and measure the conversion rate. At all times of communication, the marketer should promote a consistent and clear message about a product or brand using a TTL marketing approach through social media, mass media or digital media and achieve maximum benefit in terms of reach, imaging and conversion.
- Efthymios Constantinides (2014), Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 148, 40 – 57
- Felix, R., et al., Elements of Strategic Social Media Marketing: A Holistic Framework, Journal of Business Research (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.05.001
- Kaplan, Andreas M. and Michael Haenlein 2010. “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media ”, Business horizons, 53 (1), 59-68.
- Mangold, W. Glynn and David J. Faulds 2009. “Social Media: The New Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix”, Business horizons, 52 (4), 357-65.