Below-the-line & Above-the-line Printing

When it comes to advertising, it is crucial to first identify how far you would go in terms of getting into ATL (above the line) and BTL (below the line) approaches.


How important are they being distinguished? The idea of using LINE has been around for more than 50 years now. But it is a good way to distinguish the various media and channels used in advertising. So what do they entail?

Above the Line

On one hand, ATL basically refers to the use of mass media in the campaign. Whether it is to promote a brand or to create better product awareness, using conventional media like TV and Radio which in their own nature are referred to as mass media is an ATL approach. In this context, it must be noted that the internet falls into this category as well. ATL is very straightforward because when the messaging is designed, it is aimed to connect with a wide spread of audience and not a single group. Therefore, it is very important to know the difference here when the internet is used. When you place a banner ad in a portal, it is an ATL platform because it is aimed to be viewed by anyone visiting the page. When you use more direct platforms, it would mean otherwise.

Below the Line

On the other hand, BTL advertising is more targeted. In fact, it can be more one-to-one in contrast to ATL which is one-to-many. Basically, what this means is that BTL covers a lot more media as ATL because it will involve those that are not targeted at the masses. So, BTL advertising would encompass media like:

  1. pamphlets and brochures
  2. stickers and posters
  3. roadside posters and screens
  4. toilet advertising
  5. product demonstration and sampling
  6. wraparounds
  7. Whatsapp marketing

Apart from that, BTL advertising covers other forms of unconventional methods as well which include events and roadshows as well as using PR agencies.

Either one or both?

The main issue with any advertising campaign is budget. Whether you aim to use ATL, BTL or both, it depends solely on how much budget you have to spend. The rule of thumb really is that ATL is costlier while BTL can be cheaper but it would then come down to which one is more cost-effective. Using both ATL and BTL would be ideal but you have to ensure that your integrated marketing campaign is well planned before deciding.

How effective is this?

Having said that, ATL will surely be the approach to ensure your message gets out to the masses while BTL will give you a more focused target segmentation. One major issue with using BTL is that you will require a lot of printing services. This is because you will involve these services to produce your marketing collaterals like brochures and posters. In most cases, a lot of agencies do consider having their own printers so much so that they print their own collaterals or even outsource this to other agencies. As such, there are various issues that need to be addressed.

Searching for printer services

In recent years, printing services has become extremely popular especially with the dropping cost of ink and material. You can literally find a printer by simply searching for them online. These companies will charge you based on the quality of print and the size of the printout. You can print banners, buntings, posters and just about anything as long as you can provide them the image file. On the other hand, you can operate your own facilities.

Printer must have their own printing facilities

Having your own printing facilities is a different approach altogether. Top range printers include high-resolution printers(HP and Xerox) which are specifically used to produce printings that are rich in colour and content thereby offering you the sharpest and high quality printing for marketing collateral.

Sticker Printing

There are many scales in printing stickers for advertising and marketing in which they must be the best print quality and durability.

Stickers must be durable and must last for at least 2 years in the outdoors that are exposed to different types of weather conditions while they last much longer in the indoors.

Stickers used in various types of transportation modes including buses and trains as well as in other places like buildings, walls, banners and billboards are called large format printing.

Should you have your own printing services?

Besides the issue of cost, you need to consider certain issues if you are deciding on whether you should offer printing services.

  1. if the volume of printing is high and you might be printing daily, then you should
  2. if that is your option, then you should consider buying use or second-hand printers and using compatible ink. These ink will last for about 2 years and not too long after that duration. After all, banners today are no longer expected to be displayed for too long. In fact, printed banners on billboards are usually put up between a few months to up to 2 years and you are then expected to change them before your viewers get bored with looking at the same visual all the time.
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