The Above The Line/Below The Line distinction has existed since 1954, when Procter & Gamble first distinguished between the services their advertising agencies were providing.
Since then, the distinction has made perfect sense for most brands and agencies; Above The Line (ATL) advertising and marketing has mass reach, awareness intentions, Below The Line (BTL) advertising and marketing has the intention of targeting individuals in unique ways.
These functions still stand today, with ATL and BTL getting along just fine without redefinition. But is ‘fine’ good enough? Are there better ways to be approaching your marketing strategy in the 21st Century? Are there ways to utilise these distinct approaches to the best of their ability, but in tandem?
Through The Line (TTL) marketing, which brings the two approaches together, may well be more valuable than the sum of its parts. But how do you go about proving this strategy works, and crucially, convincing your clients to ditch a 60-year-old distinction?
Read on to discover exactly what TTL consists of, the benefits you can expect, and how you can measure its impact to prove the effectiveness to your clients.
What is Through The Line Marketing?
At base, it’s any strategy that involves both ATL and BTL communications. It’s mass marketing that grows awareness while also bringing in leads to feed the CRM.
ATL marketing has a broad reach, aiming to touch as many consumers as possible. It needs a universal message that appeals to many and gets the brand to the front of mind.
BTL marketing takes a drastically different approach. It singles out individuals or audience segments, offers targeted adverts and messages, aiming to open specific conversations and convert these consumers.
How can these be married together, then, if their aims are so different?
In the simplest terms, TTL campaigns could include mass market reach, but with a discount code included; mass reach, but with a clear conversion aim.
And while this is not the most sophisticated approach, sometimes simplicity can be a strength. If you do want to marry up mass awareness to purchase via some form of discount or promotional code, then we can help you make it as effective as possible.
More sophisticated approaches also exist, thanks to the technological leaps that have been made since 1954.
Dynamic imagery, audio and video allow you to insert personalised elements into your otherwise broad-reaching campaign - for instance the name of the city, the weather or even the name of the viewer. Traditionally ATL marketing channels, including radio, TV and digital billboards, are suddenly transformed into TTL strategies, capable of targeting and bespoke messaging.
It’s the intent of the campaign that divides the approaches up, but you don’t need to choose between awareness and conversion anymore, TTL offers a campaign that achieves both ends, with perhaps even more skill than either of the previous approaches can achieve alone.
Expected Benefits of Through The Line Marketing
TTL marketing brings together the ingredients of ATL and BTL, without too many cooks spoiling the broth, so to speak. It’s not a general lumping together of two distinct ways of working, nor is it the (non-) strategy of doing absolutely everything available to you, all at once. TTL is a strategic approach that unites the two methods by feeding ATL awareness through to BTL channels, where that awareness can be personalised and nurtured towards a sale.
The united strategy allows brands to engage with customers at multiple touchpoints, in several different ways, but within the same campaign so the messaging, look and feel remains consistent and appealing. Following leads through the customer journey from beginning to end, from awareness to conversion, the customer perception can be more accurately directed.
Examples of TTL campaigns include Always’ #LikeAGirl. Traditionally ATL adverts, including print and video, featuring an evocative hashtag moved the conversation to social media where targeting becomes much more achievable.
An Above The Line print advert:
Below The Line, targeted social media within the same campaign:
The campaign created a conversation in the public domain that wasn’t previously happening; anything to do with periods, even if indirectly, basically. But in terms of BTL metrics, it also increased the brand’s purchase intent by more than 50%.
It may be counterintuitive for your clients to buck a decades-old marketing method, in favour of TTL campaigns. You (and they) must invest in sophisticated measuring tools because you now have two goals, instead of one, that need to be tracked; awareness plus conversion. But these measurements are easy enough when you know how, and you’re about to know how…
Measure & Prove The Effectiveness of Through The Line Campaigns
As always, the devil is in the detail. And while TTL might sound perfect for your next client, how can you track the effectiveness and prove the success of a campaign that makes use of both out of home and digital marketing channels, requiring different metrics?
Using Attest’s scalable intelligence platform you can measure the response to the full spectrum of marketing channels involved in a TTL campaign.
Track Awareness and Intent to Buy with a Brand Tracker
A brand tracker, with the first dip before the campaign launch, and subsequent dips at regular intervals, will reveal the base level of brand awareness and brand health, and how these metrics are changing as the campaign is rolled out.
Your ATL channels should be aiming to grow brand awareness, spread key messaging and increase positive sentiment, each of which can be measured using a comprehensive brand tracker survey. By tracking the uplift in brand health following the launch of your TTL campaign you can keep a close eye on the success of ATL methods, which have traditionally been hard to quantify.
While digital channels and those contributing to the BTL side of your campaign will likely be more easily measurable, these can also be tracked within your Brand Tracker, using a measure of purchase intent. This keeps everything joined up (one of the key benefits of taking a TTL approach).
Understanding the increase in purchase intent as a direct result of your campaigns will be an important self-reported gauge of likelihood to convert.
Understand the Channels Contributing to Revenue with Advert Recognition Surveys
A second way to understand the success of your TTL campaign is with Advert Recognition surveys (also known as measures of brand lift or brand recall). Advert recognition surveys can be vital tools to measure the reach and impact of specific adverts within the campaign, so that your client can be fully informed about the elements that are performing well.
The Attest survey builder allows you to embed a still from the advert, or video or audio clip, directly into the question, before proceeding to question the respondent as to their recognition of this advert, including which channel they’ve seen it appear in.
Use the Attest Exclusive Audience capability to ensure an unbiased sample see each of your surveys, giving honest, high quality data that you can use to continually increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.
What To Do Next
Below The Line marketing needn’t be the nerdy, data-obsessed sibling of ATL marketing any more. You can bring the two approaches together, to feed into a single, cohesive and optimally effective campaign. Using Attest, every element, including Out Of Home channels, can be tracked to ensure they contribute to the dual goal of the campaign.
To discover how to bring insight and transparency to all your integrated campaigns, measure effectiveness, and help to prove it to your clients, get in touch with Attest today.