Above-the-line advertising

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Above-the-line advertising
See also

Above-the-line advertising also known as Above the Line promotion/ Above the Line marketing/ ATL marketing/ ATL advertising) consist of advertising activities that are largely non-targeted and have a wide reach. ATL isusing to done to build the brand and inform about the product. Conversions are given less importance in above the line advertising[1]. "This type of communication is conventional and impersonal to customers, and much more effective when the target group is very large and difficult to define. One of the major drawbacks in the ATL campaigns is the inability to evaluate the commission based on the campaign. It is impossible to calculate how much the sale increased due to campaign."(Šehović, M., Duduković, M., Mladenović J. 2014, s. 1135)

Example of ATL[2]:

According to D. Statt "above-the-line advertising is a form of sales promotion where an agency is commissioned to place advertising for a client in the mass media. It isusually contrasted with below-the-line advertising which has overtaken it inpopularity in recent years." (D. Statt 2014, s.10)


"First used in 1954 when Procter & Gamble began paying advertising firms separately from other suppliers who dealt with more direct promotional efforts. The term originated spontaneously while composing a budget of Procter & Gamble. Only traditional advertisement costs were listed in the draft budget (television, radio, printed media, outdoor and movie theatre ads). Employees in company then considered free sampling, discount programs, sweepstakes, sponsorships, etc. which made them draw a line below initial costs, in order to include these previously uncharted costs of promotion (In the Beginning, There Was ATL, n.d.). Advertising agencies made commission from booking different types of media – TV, cinema, radio, press, magazines and out-of-home. Since BTL activities had no involvement of media, no commission was made for these agencies. The accountants marked different types of media as ATL an BTL depending on where it would sit in the balance sheet and profit and loss accounts (ATL stands for profit oriented activities, and BTL stands for non profit activities). During the time, this advertising budget structure became popular and became practiced around the world. Now, “above the line” stands for capital expenditures and “below the line” for current expenditures." (Šehović, M., Duduković, M., Mladenović J. 2014, s. 1134)

Marketing activities

Generally in the opinion of N. Arora "marketing activities (basically advertisements) today can be divided into three segments – Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL), & Through the Line (TTL) Marketing. The line was originally used to separate marketing activities which had mass penetration (above the line) to those which had specific penetration (below the line)." (N. Arora 2018, s. 13)


  1. N. Arora 2018, S. 13
  2. A. Gaerig 2010, S. 8


Author: Katarzyna Kraj