Astral OOH’s Toronto Pearson Deal Means Canadian Airport Ad Dominance

August 4, 2016 by Dave Haynes

Bell Media-Astral Out of Home Becomes Exclusive Out-of-Home Adve

Montreal-based Astral Out-of-home has won the ad concession for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and with that now has ad rights in Canada’s three busiest airports and largest markets.

Astral’s airport media business, owned by the communications conglomerate Bell Media, already has Montreal and Vancouver, as well as Ottawa and Halifax.

Pearson is the biggie, though, with 41 million passengers flying in and out of there each year. The eight-and-a-half year contract, which officially commences Aug. 29, grants Astral exclusive advertising rights for both in-terminal and non-terminal concessions. The contract was previously held by Clear Channel Outdoor Canada.

Astral is “by far” the leader in the airport advertising category, said Benjamin Mathieu, GM for Astral’s airport business, in an interview with Marketing magazine. Airport advertising will represent about 20% of Astral’s annual revenue when the Pearson contract takes effect.

Mathieu, you may recall if you have been in this business for a while, has been around the sector for many years, including stints at BroadSign, Neo Advertising and Envu.

The interesting note here, for display vendors in particular, is Mathieu’s plan to convert between 60% and 70% of Pearson’s existing static inventory to digital within the next three years. The ad owner switch will also see Clear Channel’s CBC News Express screens, in departure lounges and at luggage carousels, replaced by Astral’s AeroTV platform.

Count me among the travellers who’d be wildly happy if they just passed on the stupid things, which are just recycled, endlessly looping and droning newscasts and sports highlights. They are relics of the pre-smartphone age, but from the perspective of an ad company, more digital faces.

Mathieu told Marketing the company plans to introduce an assortment of products including landmark advertisements, video walls and vertical boards, while promising “big surprises” that are currently being finalized with Pearson’s administrative operator the Greater Toronto Airport Authority(GTAA).

There are no plans to add to its inventory in Pearson, with Mathieu saying instead the company might reduce the number of faces. “We believe that less is more,” he said. “Our vision in airports is reducing the number of faces, transforming the faces into digital [or] bigger, more spectacular. By doing this we usually increase the revenue.”

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