What is 'Below The Line Advertising'

Below-the-line advertising is an advertising strategy in which a product is promoted in mediums other than radio, television, billboards, print and film. Types of below-the-line advertising commonly include direct mail campaigns, trade shows and catalogs, and targeted search engine marketing. This advertising type tends to be less expensive and more focused.

BREAKING DOWN 'Below The Line Advertising'

Below-the-line advertising seeks to reach a consumer, instead of a mass audience, directly rather than through an intermediary, such as with a commercial during a television show. This type of advertising is often centered on specific localities and is used to promote products that a consumer wants to see in person. It can be coupled with in-store sales to help explain the features of the product.

Above-the-Line vs. Below-the-Line Advertising

Above-the-line advertising is designed to reach a mass audience, typically through mediums that reach large numbers of people at various levels of engagement. Perhaps the epitome of above-the-line marketing is a Super Bowl television ad, which costs millions of dollars for mere seconds of airtime. While this type of advertising reaches a lot of people, it is not focused, and many of the ad's recipients are likely not target customers.

Below-the-line advertising, by contrast, reaches fewer people but is more selective about the people it reaches. In most cases, extensive market research is done first to identify a target niche of hungry buyers. Once these potential customers are pinpointed, below-the-line advertising reaches them directly in a more personal manner, such as direct mail sent to their houses, face-to-face contact at a trade show or a paid search engine result when they enter a specific query.

Below-the-Line Advertising Advantages

Perhaps the biggest advantage to below-the-line advertising is the cost. While TV and radio ads tend to hit the pocketbook hard, direct mail and search engine marketing are not only more reasonable but can be scaled up or down in cost much more easily.

It is also easier to track conversions with below-the-line methods. When relying on TV or radio ads, the only way to gauge effectiveness is to ask customers how they heard about the business. Responses are often unreliable. With email and search engine marketing, a business can track link clicks and email opens with precision.

Below-the-line marketing allows for better engagement with customers. This is critical in a 21st century business landscape where reputation matters more than ever. Above-the-line methods are great for getting a name out there and developing brand awareness, but below the line is preferable for fostering actual relationships with potential customers.

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