Toronto Star to offer revamped sales model, new look

Flexible pricing tied to the readership and demographics of each of the newspaper's sections will be on offer next year. But other changes will kick in later this month.

Toronto Star publisher Jagoda Pike announced yesterday that some of the changes in the works at Canada’s top-selling newspaper are intended to make it ‘a better partner for advertisers.’ Matching actions to those words, Star VP of advertising Wayne Clifton tells MiC that he, Pike and editor-in-chief J. Fred Kuntz ‘have visited all the agency presidents in the last two or three weeks. And I can tell you their reaction (to the newspaper’s proposed new ad model) has been very positive.’

The Star‘s plan, says Clifton, is to offer ‘flexible modular advertising and the power of sectional pricing, which includes a separate rate card for each section tied to readership and demographics. So, for example, if an advertiser’s target was females 25-49, they might want to advertise in our new ‘Living’ section, but not want (to pay to reach) our full mass readership.’

Dialogue with the marketing community will continue over the summer, Clifton adds. ‘We want to get their input on sectional pricing and other changes that haven’t yet been finalized. And we’ll be looking at each individual account to see how we can provide a more opportunistic value proposition, more choice and more opportunities for advertisers in how they can use the Star.’

The newspaper’s revised ad sales model won’t roll out until next January. But a fairly sweeping redesign will launch on May 28. To make the Star more user-friendly, body text will be increased in size and given more breathing space. Headlines will be cleaner and crisper, and sections clearly labeled and colour-coded. Popular regular features, such as the weather and TV listings, will appear in the same spots in every issue.

To give higher priority to local news, Toronto and GTA coverage will move to the A section. A new ‘World & Comment’ section will be published Monday through Saturday, while a new ‘Living’ section, to be published daily including the weekend, will cover such topics as health, family, style and people.

‘There will also be new venues for high-demand content such as health and the environment, improved sports scoreboard pages and a redesigned stocks listings page featuring a number of useful and usable graphics,’ Clifton explained in a letter sent to agencies yesterday, whose contents he shared with MiC.

Between July and October, page sizes will begin to be reduced by one inch in width (to 11.5 inches, about half an inch narrower than the recently redesigned Globe & Mail), making the paper easier to handle and reducing its consumption of newsprint. ‘We think we’re setting the standard for where major newspapers will be moving in the future,’ says Clifton.

The Toronto Star is also upping its commitment to what Pike calls ‘digital leadership.’ Accordingly, May 28 will usher in improvements to, including a revamped home page reflecting more of the print version’s content, and adding more prominent use of video and photos.

Another element of the paper’s digital boost was this week’s launch of a new resource for car buyers dubbed The online pub includes content from the Star‘s ‘Wheels’ section, Carguide Magazine, World of Wheels Magazine and the ‘Wheels’ sections of the Hamilton Spectator, Kitchener-Waterloo Record and Guelph Mercury. also includes searchable databases of automobile reviews from the past 10 years, as well as local dealer listings across the GTA.

To support the launch of, Star Media Group (publisher of the Star) is working with Toronto’s Page Zero to create an aggressive search marketing campaign on Google and Yahoo that will begin next week and run till the end of the year. Online display advertising in the form of big boxes, leaderboards and skyscrapers will run on all the paper’s print partner sites as well as on These will also be disseminated through the Olive Canada Network, which represents about 35 online brands including ivillage, and These efforts will begin in early May and continue over the summer.

As well, print ads will run in the Toronto Star beginning May 5, and in upcoming issues of Carguide and World of Wheels magazines.