Media Placement – BTL and ATL

Photography © 2011 Alexander James @ Studio Distil Ennui

BTL and ATL are two terms that I always hear when I first interned in an ad agency. But what do they really mean?

First, we have to understand that media placement means the method of placing your ad message using the media, i.e. TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, banners, and so on. BTL (below-the-line) advertising refers to ads that are of direct means of communication. In my term, it means “right in the face.” Consumers get these ads via direct mails, brochures, newsletters, flyers, etc. These sort of materials are normally produced in large sum and distributed to a larger or more diverse set of audience.

Unlike BTL, ATL (above-the-line) ads are more measurable. TV, radio, outdoor advertising (certain types, like billboard), and newspapers are categorized as ATL media because the reach and frequency of the message being advertised is very much countable. For example, each newspaper have certain amount of circulation and each TV station has certain percentage of household ratings.

While BTL believes in more unconventional brand-building strategies, ATL are said appeared to audience as impersonal but communication is conventional in nature.

As advertisers, you need to identify your target market and figure out which types of advertising methods fit into your objectives best. A newer method, combining both the types of advertising methods, called TTL (through-the-line) are said to be somewhat effective in reaching today’s younger audience.

Watch: The shift from ATL to Strategic BTL


About Jason Tham

Jason Tham is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. His research interests are digital pedagogy, connectivism and connected learning, computers and writing, and visual rhetoric.
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One Response to Media Placement – BTL and ATL

  1. Pingback: Follow Your Folly | Wayne State University PRSSA

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