In case you haven’t noticed, advertising literacy is a big part of The LAMP. A good deal of the media we engage with on a regular basis is, in some way, trying to sell us something. That ‘thing’ might be a product, a service, an opinion or even a lifestyle. Most media are funded by advertisers and marketers, and that relationship is not going to end as we know it. All of us at The LAMP know this, and we’re not against advertising in general–it’s a necessary service, and can add value to a society. But sometimes, ads do more harm than good. They can reinforce standards of beauty, health, gender and ethnicity in ways too numerous to count here which can have a negative impact on how we view ourselves and the world around us.
But what if you could create your own advertising landscape? Imagine if, walking down the sidewalk, you saw a gallery of impressionist paintings instead of billboards. Or maybe you lean towards pop art, photography, cubism–what if Times Square was your art gallery to curate as you wish?
That’s part of the idea behind AR Ad Takeover, an app designed by Public Ad Campaign and The Heavy Projects (AR = augmented reality). Once you’ve downloaded the app on your iOS or Android phone, hold your phone up to an ad, and voila! You’ll see another image in its place. LAMP Executive Director D.C. Vito hung out with Jordan Seiler of Public Ad Campaign earlier this week and got a personal tour of the app in Times Square, the advertisement mecca of America. D.C. showed it to me later using ads in downtown Manhattan, and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing.
The app is still in beta, and was tested last weekend. So far, there are only a select assortment of ads that AR Ad Takeover can read and replace with a new image, and keeping pace with the ever-changing advertisements on the streets of New York City is a significant challenge. Certainly there’s lots to do before you can walk by a row of Salvador Dali paintings where there used to be ads for energy drinks, but it’s also not impossible. Augmented reality is becoming more and more commonplace, and a world of possibility opens up with every new development. Advertisers know this too, of course, and are gradually using more AR to grab your attention. With AR Ad Takeover, though, you can harness the same technology to take back your space and counteract the ad barrage. Times Square will never be the same.