A few months ago only a handful of developers and software engineers were aware of a mobile gaming revolution that was going to engulf the world. A new type of game – Augmented Reality – was getting ready to emerge on the scene and reshape our landscape while the majority of people slept, unaware of what was going to happen.
Today, you can’t visit any public space without seeing people with their eyes locked on their smartphones, thumbs flicking upward as they attempt to catch and collect the many imaginary creatures. Pokémon Go’s developers, Niantic Labs, had experimented with Augmented Reality gaming in years past with their previous game Ingress, but nothing that came close to the explosive success that Pokémon Go has had in the wake of its release.
A recent study by Sensor Tower shows that Pokémon Go is by far the most used app in the world today, completely outclassing other mobile games and even Social Media juggernauts like Twitter and Facebook. Its users average spending close to 50 minutes per day using it. Although the Poké-Mania might have hit its peak already, the game still has a large body of daily active users who dedicate significant chunks of time each week to playing it.
While the rest of the world watches in amazement (those few who are not participating in the Pokémon Go craze themselves), marketers seized another opportunity to utilize the medium of Augmented Reality through which they can approach the general public.
What Does Pokémon Go Mean for Marketing?
Well, Pokémon Go changes several different things, actually.
Content marketers are the fastest growing marketing specialization group. Business realized long ago that that they need to create interesting and appealing content in order to entice their prospective customers.
And they’ve been doing just that for years.
Unfortunately, the problem remains in attracting that audience to that content. With Instagram, everyone is a photographer; with WordPress, everyone is a writer; with YouTube, everyone is a director. How are businesses supposed to compete and get through the clutter?
Luckily for local marketers, with Pokémon Go they might not even have to.
Pokémon Go and Location-Based Marketing
The purpose of the Pokémon Go game is to catch as many Pokémon as possible by walking around and collecting them from specified locations. That’s how players gain levels and grow their avatar.
Now, the developers of Pokémon Go are not foolish – the game was made for profit, after all. Companies and local businesses can buy lures that are going to attract various Pokemons to their physical location. Once there, Pokemon players will be flocking to the location in order to catch those Pokémon.
One example of clever Pokémon Go marketing: Russia’s banking giant, Sberbank, has lures and every one of their 17,000 locations across Russia. Lures are only active during regular banking hours, however, so players have to walk inside the bank to catch them. Fill the space with smart advertising and you’re not just creating content; you’re practically forcing people to be exposed to your marketing messages. And it’s not just Sberbank. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local businesses are using this Pokémon craze to lure people to their physical location.
But Sberbank went one step further. Several people have died during their Pokémon Go hunts in the past couple of weeks. Hundreds of others have been injured. Sberbank offered free bodily-harm insurance to all Pokémon Go players in exchange for their mobile phone number. Players only need to visit the bank’s website to register for it. Simply ingenious!
Pokémon Go Changing Marketing as We Know it
Up until now, marketing was all about targeted messaging. You had to know your audience, know who you’re trying to appeal to and know how to do that. However, Pokémon Go is popular with different demographics – it’s played by children and their parents and grandparents alike. It’s popular with cashiers, lawyers, doctors, physicists, teachers, and the unemployed. Name a group, chances are that Pokémon Go has already grabbed it by the lapels.
Laser-precise targeting is not needed with Pokémon Go because of several additional factors:
Generalization – PokéStops, where players collect their resources, are determined by the number of geo-tagged images in Google. Players don’t fuel them, the general public does.
Pokémon has history – Pokémon shaped multiple generations thanks to the fact that they’ve been around for 20 years. Many people who grew up on Pokémon games and cartoons are now adults with purchasing power. Marketers segment adults mostly – and a good number of those adults have a nostalgic connection to Pokémon.
Word-of-mouth – Pokémon Go lured out thousands of recluse players out into the street where they can mingle and socialize. Their interactions start a wildfire of interest and prompt others to play the game.
As you can see, businesses that have broad appeal can safely use Pokémon Go to get their various target audiences under the same umbrella. This mobile game is so far the only platform that allows marketers to kill several birds with one stone – or in Pokémon Go lingo, catch several Pidgeys with one Poké Ball. It’s still untested waters, that’s for sure, but the potential benefits are huge.
The augmented reality of Pokémon Go will make it a popular channel for all brands to explore as the game grows in popularity – it has already surpassed Twitter when it comes to daily active usage. Niantic Labs even has plans to partner with certain businesses to prioritize their locations in-game, such as in Japan where their partnership with McDonald’s has made every one of their stores into a PokéStop. But now is only the beginning. Augmented Reality gaming is here to stay, and it’s likely that Pokémon Go is only the first of many games to use this format. It’s hard to tell but one thing’s for sure: there is no rest for marketers as long as technology is in the driving seat.
Leah Cooper is a professional writer and editor at AussiEssay. She writes about different topics in such spheres as e-learning, content marketing, blogging, personal development and freelancing. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.