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Former Toronto mayor David Miller, right, at the corner of Reese St. and Queen's Quay and Luc Sabbatini, president of Astral Media Outdoor, introduce the city's first automated public toilet. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Former Toronto mayor David Miller, right, at the corner of Reese St. and Queen's Quay and Luc Sabbatini, president of Astral Media Outdoor, introduce the city's first automated public toilet. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Astral to target outdoor ads to specific consumers Add to ...

Astral Media Inc. is launching an outdoor advertising service that can target the interests and buying habits of a neighbourhood, in a strategic move that's expected to help increase revenues.

The service uses available consumer data from Statistics Canada, lifestyle and consumer surveys as well as postal codes for its geo-targetting, Astral said Thursday.

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That means putting the outdoor ads – on billboards, transit shelters, street benches, columns – to reach specific groups of consumers in specific places.

“You're really able to pinpoint the key areas where people, live, work, shop and play,” said Philippe Rene, senior director of research at the Astral Out-of-Home advertising division.

Rene said the technology that Astral is using can take specific consumer information, including habits and consumption, and put it on a map with a “high degree of precision.”

The technology, for example, would allow an airline to geographically target consumers with ads who want to vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico, he said. A bank could advertise mortgage rates to prospective home buyers in a specific neighbourhood.

It would allow an imported beer company to pinpoint key areas where consumers who drink imported beer live and where they're most likely to spend their time, he added.

Rene said the service, called MARK, will help Astral increase revenues in its outdoor business division. “Definitely, we can win accounts based on this technology. So if we look at it this way, it contributes to our growth.”

Targeted ads based on people's interests and demographics are already a staple on the Internet and it's also being done on TV and on mobile phones.

Montreal's Cogeco Cable has announced it will test different ads for different TV viewers with a trial on Hamilton's independent CHCH television station this year.

New wireless company Wind Mobile will let its customers receive rewards and discounts by opting into its targeted advertising on their mobile phones early this year.

Pattison Outdoor Advertising, a rival to Astral, said it offers digital advertising designed to reach targeted audience demographics.

Astral said consumers' privacy will be respected and names and identities are not used to design targeted ad campaigns.

Astral Out-of-Home, a division of Astral Media, is one of Canada's leading outdoor advertising companies. Astral operates more than 100 of the country's most popular pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media properties.

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