Pokémon Go may just be a passing fad but this latest craze highlights how new augmented reality applications can create marketing opportunities and dramatically change the local advertising game.
Pokémon Go is an app-based game in which you look through your smartphone screen as you travel around various locations, looking to find various Pokémon creatures that you can capture by rolling virtual balls at them.
Just two days after its launch it already had more downloads than Tinder and nearly as many active users in the US as Twitter.
Nimble local businesses that are “Pokéstops” are already taking advantage of the game, buying virtual Lure Modules of Pokémon incense at $1 each for 30 minutes. They attract Pokémon — and, where thePokémon are, the businesses hope potential customers will follow.
Quick thinking restaurants and cafes are cashing in on this, putting charging stations in their stores for players who have low batteries and who are likely to stick around for lunch or coffee while charging their phones.
Niantic chief executive John Hanke has now announced that “sponsored locations” are coming soon. Brands will soon be able to pay to put their names on valued destinations that players seek. The idea, he told Financial Times, is to offer paid locations “within the virtual game board,” with charges on a cost-per-visit basis.
What do these Pokéstops look like?
In the name of research, I downloaded the app and found one near my home. On the 600-metre walk to it I encountered and captured a few of these bizarre creatures as well (Yes, I did suck and no, I don’t think I will continue to play).
Why should you care?
As a 43-year-old male that never got into Pokémon in the first place, this is potentially my worst nightmare. But as a marketer I find this absolutely intriguing and full of exciting possibilities for businesses that thrive on foot traffic. Location-based marketing has potentially just got a new massive tool and if Pokémon Go proves to be more than a short-lived fad, it could be just the start of a wave of AR games that local businesses can tap to capture new customers and bring existing customers back through their doors.
Note: Each new craze seems to attract obsessives and this is no exception. Take kiwi Tom Currie, who quit his job to travel NZ and catch Pokémon for the next two months.
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