Electronic ads are coming to some Toronto transit shelters

Electronic ads are coming to some Toronto transit shelters

(Image: Alfred Ng, from the Toronto Life Flickr Pool)

Advertisements on some transit shelters are about to get a little more conspicuous. Earlier this morning, city council cleared the way for Astral Media to outfit as many as 120 TTC stops with poster-sized video screens over the next three years.

Astral, the advertising company that holds Toronto’s street-furniture contract, had lobbied for this outcome. Under the terms of the original street-furniture agreement the company struck with the city in 2007, digital ads weren’t permitted. That said, today’s decision doesn’t mean that Toronto streets will suddenly become Blade Runner-esque hellscapes littered with blinking Coca Cola ads. Astral can only use what’s known as “electronic static copy”—still images of advertisements that change after a few seconds, sort of like the slides in a Powerpoint presentation, except without any animation.

Today’s decision will also allow Astral to install “creative advertising” on some transit shelters. The city’s definition of “creative” encompasses a variety of wraps, decals, tints and other installations. Mercifully, audio advertising is severely restricted and scented advertising is specifically banned. Astral has been experimenting with similar types of ads for a few years already. (See above.)

There are some slippery-slope arguments to be made, but the change is likely to be gradual. The city will be getting a cut of the revenue from all these fancy new ads, although the precise terms of the deal are confidential.