Populated by 6.25 million people and over half of its residents born outside of the country, Toronto is considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world. And for this very reason, Toronto is an extremely unique region to advertise in via the out-of-home (OOH) medium. With access to markets of all varieties, the city of Toronto has some of the most varied OOH advertising environments in the world.
Toronto is truly a one-stop-shop for advertisers because of how many different segments they have access to. Unlike big cities in the U.S. like Memphis, Omaha, Pittsburgh, and Portland (the one in Oregon, to be specific), considered the least racially diverse big cities in the U.S., Toronto is super culturally diverse and insanely geographically varied!
Let’s take a look at some of Toronto’s neighbourhoods and hot spots and the unique features each location offers.
High Foot Traffic Destinations
The CN Tower
By no surprise, I’m sure, the CN Tower is in many ways the heartbeat of the city. Attracting over 1.5 million tourists every year, the CN Tower held the record of the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years before being overthrown by the Burj Khalifa in 2007. The tower is one of the hottest spots in Toronto and is located right by the waterfront, adjacent to the Rogers Center and Scotiabank Arena—inviting even more foot traffic.
For obvious reasons, this Toronto destination is prime OOH advertising real estate. While static billboards may be subject to tricky restrictions in the area as to not take away from the wow factor of the tower, truck-side wraps are the perfect option! Fleet wraps can garner anywhere between 30,000-80,000 impressions daily! Moreover, 98% of Americans indicated that they notice media targeting vehicle drivers and passengers. These competitive numbers are thanks to the nature of mobile billboards; they’re situated right at eye level, they’re large and impactful, and they move around—almost demanding the attention of passersby.
Yonge and Dundas
Yonge and Dundas, coined the “Times Square of Toronto” is an advertiser’s dream. Known to most as probably the second most popular destination in Toronto, the square attracts 5,104,715 pedestrians in the month of August, alone. Situated next to popular restaurants and shops, this intersection has something for everyone. Of course though, Yonge and Dundas Square is home to the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, a massive multi-level shopping complex that boasts one of Canada’s most productive in terms of annual sales per square foot, and it’s also the busiest centre in North America in terms of annual pedestrian count.
Digital signage and truck-side adverts alike adorn the intersection, lighting it up at night and making it a feat of beauty during the daytime. Having permanent digital screens dedicated to events allows for affordable use of this technology by all Yonge-Dundas Square advertising clients, the intersection is a hot spot for brands looking to make a big impact. Additionally, fleet wraps are another popular option for advertisers who may be searching for a more cost-effective option. Truck-side ads after all have some of the lowest cost-per-impression (CPM) rates at some of the influential rates, as coined by the American Trucking Association (ATA).
Speaking of popular Toronto malls, Yorkdale Shopping Centre is located in the North York district of Toronto. Located at the intersection of Highway 401 and Allen Road, it opened in 1964 as the largest enclosed shopping mall in the world. With 18 million annual shoppers, Yorkdale homes retailers from luxury brand names, to more affordable options—attracting a wide variety of clientele.
Advertising in and around the mall has been a lucrative choice for Toronto advertisers for years. Even driving to the mall itself, you’ll notice billboard after billboard on the side of the highway that connects you right to its parking lot. Branded trucks are always driving around, gathering impressions from the mall’s shoppers. Overall, the Yorkdale Mall and its area have been a popular location for advertisers to reach their targets.
Queen Street West
Queen Street West is another travel destination for Toronto tourists and city residents alike. Known as a hip and trendy neighbourhood, the west side of Queen offers an eclectic variety of well-known retailers, smaller indie shops, and even a wide array of options for a cozy candle-lit dinner. This area seemingly has something for everyone. Based upon traffic data collected by the City of Toronto in 2011, this intersection saw 38,815 pedestrians and 19,155 vehicles in an eight-hour period.
Because the area is predominantly made up of old historical buildings, advertisers tend to get creative in Queen West. For example, local artists are often hired to create large-scale wall murals and graffiti adverts. One unique feature of the area, as a result, is that the advertising in the area really becomes a feature of the neighbourhood. At the same time, however, the area is no stranger to static and truck-side billboards either. Truly an advertising neighbourhood for all brands!
Yonge and Eglinton
While this list of high foot traffic spots in Toronto could go on and on, let’s finish it up with one of the up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Yonge and Eglinton is situated in Midtown right on the North-West side of the Yonge subway line. Construction of the new subway line, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, will run west on Eglinton Avenue AND has been underway for what it feels like almost forever- but with the major construction comes heaps of new residents, visitors, new trendy restaurants, and shops! The most recent foot traffic data shows that in 2015, Yonge and Eg trailed behind Yonge and Dundas Square in foot traffic by just 1,140 at 128,564!
Today, Yonge and Eg is a happening part of the city and is an often overlooked part of the city when considering where to advertise. Adjacent to a high and upper-middle-class income neighbourhood, the intersection also brings heaps of visitors. This golden audience makes it a dream for advertisers looking to gain impressions through OOH advertising!
The Gardiner is one of the most intrinsic roadways in Toronto as it connects to commuters, those entering Toronto, and those leaving. With over 150,000 vehicles on the Gardiner daily, westbound and eastbound traffic can view the static billboards they pass while driving or spot a transport truck with a large impact fleet wrap.
The Gardiner is known, in many ways, to be a spot in Toronto where advertisers like to capitalize on. The diverse collection of drivers, frequent traffic jams that lead to longer impression times, and routine route which translates into repeated interactions with adverts makes for prime real estate for OOH advertisers.
While this article spoke primarily on high-traffic areas in Toronto that are tried-and-true locations for OOH advertisers, there are always other popular locations that I will give an honourable mention to. While this first one isn’t a location necessarily, TTC transit is a popular option, residential neighbourhoods, and our airports are always good spots to hit with an impactful outdoor ad.
After looking through some of the most popular locations to set up billboards or map out your truck-side ad in Toronto, it’s important to emphasize that Toronto is truly a city that has so much optionality in what audience you can reach. With a culturally diverse population and pockets of the city that attract expansive demographics, there is always a spot in the city that can reach your audience directly.