This Mobile App Replaces Subway Station Ads with Digital Art


The MTA makes more than a $100 million every year selling space to advertisers. What they are really selling, of course, is you: your time waiting for the train, contemplating the void and/or silently criticizing the Photoshop skill of the poor soul tasked with fitting all 16 Expendables 3 stars onto one poster.

What if I told you you never had to look at that Expendables 3 poster ever again? Is that something you might like? There is a new app called NO AD–it’s like AdBlocker, but for your commute instead of your computer. It is free, and available now for Apple and Android phones.

The app uses image recognition software to replace the top 100 subway advertisements with art. For the first month the app will be populated with the work of 50 street artists (like Elle, pictured above), photographers, and friends of the app makers.

Jordan Seiler, the founder of New York’s PublicAdCampaign, has been doing anti-advertising work for the past ten years. About four years ago, Seiler teamed up with Los Angeles’ The Heavy Projects and began building the app with help from Jowy Romano of Subway Art Blog.

NO AD only works on subway platform ads–the ones that are usually framed on station walls–not on advertisements on turnstiles, inside subway cars or wrapped around the cars themselves. “There are simply too many ads in the subway system to get them all,” Seiler says. And they try to only replace advertisements for things like alcohol, movies, and television shows, never public service announcements.

Month to month the app will shuffle through a new set of artists and images. Starting October 15, Seiler tells the Voice NO AD will be teaming up with the International Center for Photography to give their artists another channel to display their work.

Here’s what NO AD looks like in action:

We fully endorse this idea, and humbly suggest the next group of enterprising developers get to work on an app that uses augmented reality to replace body odor with the smell of fresh cut grass.