July 13, 2016
It’s fair to say that Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm – the media frenzy surrounding the new app is almost unprecedented. Already we have stories about sackings, hilarious cheats and even crime-fighting successes, and apparently this is only the tip of the iceberg for what Nintendo has in store.
But beyond the mass adoption and crazed Pokemon fandom reliving their 10 year old lives, it’s clear that marketers are rubbing their hands with glee. Pokemon Go is the triumph for mobile – users are literally walking around, heads glued to the screen, ready to either catch their latest find the moment it appears next to them, or stop by at the local ‘Pokestop’ (a pinned location on the map, normally referencing a landmark or unusual installation across the towns and countryside) to pick up relevant items.
Fundamentally, Pokemon Go is all about location – it relies on users to actively move, to return to venues and Pokestops, fight battles at specific areas, and hunt rare Pokemon in obscure locations at different times of the day. This is no longer an alien notion for users – they are already doing it every day (but without the Pokeballs and gym battles).
It doesn’t seem too far a step for Nintendo to think about these Pokestops as a potential avenue for marketing revenue – transplanting specific venues like bars, hotels and restaurants, and placing them in the fictional Pokemon world. Discovering a Pokestop in the game is exciting – it is a significant spot for millions of users. It isn’t hard to envisage a world where users start frequenting specific bars and restaurants simply because they are directly next to a Pokemon Gym – a location that requires the user to spend a long time spent in one place. It’s augmented reality marketing at its most effective.
Beyond this emphasis on location, the idea of augmented reality and app usage, once a concept in its infancy, has now become a fantastic part of the mobile experience. Pokemon Go grounds itself in real-world geography, embellishing reality with and extra layer of fun and interactivity. The emphasis is on the user journey (both geographically and within the phone). It is this relationship between the user, their phone, and the world around them that marketers need to appreciate. With a large proportion of users welcoming location-based targeting (as shown by the eMarketer graph) and it becoming more and more frequently used on a day-to-day basis, marketers have to stop seeing mobile as a device to advertise on, but as a vital part of a consumer journey. Ads have to respond not only to their audience’s tastes, but also to their specific circumstances at certain times of the day. Pokemon Go is making this abundantly clear.