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July 18, 2016

Location-Based Marketing Just Evolved With Pokémon GO

If you feel like you’re the only one not playing Pokémon GO right now, it's because you probably are.

The 90s card game returned in a big way with a new mobile app from Nintendo and developer Kinetic Worldwide. In less than a week, Pokémon GO captured more daily users than Twitter. In fact, as a social platform (and more social features are coming to the app—chat, trading creatures, sharing, etc.), it’s up there with Facebook in terms of usage and engagement. Users are already spending more time on Pokémon GO than on Facebook (34 minutes versus 22 minutes per day). It takes time to “catch them all,” right?

For the uninitiated, the premise is simple: walk around in the real world and catch virtual creatures—hundreds of them at various levels of difficulty and power you can train to fight other creatures. Various items help you with this task, and certain areas in the real world are marked as PokéStops (check-in locations that give you bonus items) or gyms (places to battle). Your character, or trainer, levels up along the way, the more you play.

The game’s one-two punch of virtual reality and location-based engagement, peppered with millennial nostalgia, has created, in a short time, a huge audience of addicted users who have made it the biggest mobile game ever (sorry, Candy Crush).

But what does any of this mean for advertisers? Plenty.

Location-based apps are nothing new (Yelp, Foursquare, our old favorite GoWalla), but one with an audience this size and this engaged is new. There is an opportunity here for advertisers to drive foot traffic—real foot traffic—to their stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. Not to mention, it could be a unique play for B-to-B companies to drive customers to their manufacturing facilities or to product dealer locations. Imagine sponsoring a PokéStop or gym at your business with unique content to be unlocked, such as a rare or one-of-a-kind Pokémon. This type of traffic is already happening for several businesses whether they want it to or not. The next logical step for Nintendo is to offer paid sponsorships for these locations and start better monetizing their frenzied audience. And we all know this is coming.

Traditionally, digital marketing has been great at putting together highly defined, targeted audiences with real-time measurement, but tracking the customer all the way to a real-world cash register has been a somewhat trickier proposition. Pokémon GO, and the inevitable avalanche of coming imitators, merges the physical and digital worlds in a way we haven’t really seen before, by requiring users to actually show up to be rewarded, over and over again.

And that’s just looking at the app from a location-based angle. Once in-game chat and other social features are introduced, the sky’s the limit.

So, it looks like when it comes to Pokémon GO, in addition to having a strategy for capturing a Pikachu, you might want to start considering a strategy to harness this real-world audience and bring them to the doors of your business.

 

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