Which Political Campaign Will Try Augmented Reality Ads First?

Headed soon to a phone in your hands? Augmented reality advertising. First question? What does that even mean.

As Christina Bonnington explains in Slate, commercial brands are already experimenting with ads designed to draw people into the world of their products via cellphone cameras:

In your feed, you might see an ad where a model is wearing a pair of sunglasses: Tap the ad, and you can open up your phone’s camera and try on those shades yourself via AR. Sephora, Bobbi Brown, and L’Oreal are also set to let Facebook and Instagram users tap their ads to try on makeup products and looks. Other companies such as Pottery Barn and Wayfair are also on board to use the technology to show off how homewares may look in your house.

A brave new world of personalized advertising! How might it play out in politics? Let’s brainstorm some ideas:

  • Demonstrate the effects of climate change by showing how quickly rising sea levels would drown you (note: you might have to enter your height, or perhaps the app would simply immerse your face). Bonus survival points if you draw a snorkel on the image!
  • Fill an snapshot of your house, apartment or luxurious cardboard box with all the consumer goods a cut in the capital gains tax would allow you to buy (downside: most abodes would remain conspicuously empty).
  • Put you into the cockpit of the F-35 stealth fighter purchased in part with your tax payments (note: be sure NOT to show people the part their taxes actually paid for, which is probably a small screw or perhaps a square centimeter of paint).

Removing tongue from cheek, campaigns and advocacy organizations will surely try augmented reality ads in the months and years to come. How about downloading a photo of you with Kamala Harris or Donald Trump, built from your selfie? Or, putting your face into a photo of border detainees as a sign of solidarity? To amplify the results, the advertisers could encourage you to download the resulting image and share it on social media.

Augmented and virtual reality ads seem almost inevitable in politics at this point. As voters learn to tune out ever-more-intrusive online ads, we’ll need SOMETHING to cut through the clutter. Note: bring your swimsuit.

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