Last week saw the release of Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that has already become one of the most widely-used mobile applications in the US. Based on the multitude of video games and TV shows that have come out fairly consistently since the late ‘90’s, it has people of all ages wandering around trying to catch digital monsters superimposed over reality (thus the “augmented reality” part of the game).
Marketers, you should be paying attention to this.
Already I’ve seen enterprising marketers taking advantage of the Lure modules. For a fairly small amount of in-game currency, anyone can drop a “lure” that attracts more Pokemon for people to capture, and the food trucks across the street from my office have done a really nice job of making sure lures are out every day when they’re there.
If you haven’t played the game, the basic UI shows your avatar wandering about a map of where you are. Waypoints (called PokeStops) and Gyms (where you can fight other Pokemon trainers) are shown on the map, and if a Lure is out, the PokeStop has a graphical element around it that I think is probably meant to be cherry tree petals.
Because there’s a PokeStop near where the food trucks park, it just makes sense to set up a lure there every day and watch people with their heads buried in their phones wander back and forth, just working up an appetite for tacos or Vietnamese fusion or whatever truck is out.
Now, the challenge with this marketing strategy is that PokeStops are not set by users, but by Niantic, the creators of Pokemon Go. Sorry, retailers, you can’t make your shop a PokeStop – but you can take advantage of any nearby PokeStops and their traffic. PokeStops tend to be set at historical markers, monuments and pieces of art.
You can, however, request new PokeStops – Niantic is not wild about making homes into PokeStops, but a business might have a shot. Responses are apparently passed along to their business development team, meaning that using PokeStops as a way to draw additional foot traffic to stores may well be an intended end-game development for the company.
Who Should Use Pokemon Go For Marketing?
Obviously, you have to be in a B-to-C scenario, with some type of mobile or brick-and-mortar location – Amazon’s not going to have any use for augmented reality driving foot traffic (at least, not until their brick and mortar stores get a bit more widespread). Restaurants, retail outlets, car dealerships, cafes – anywhere you need some foot traffic, it’s worth getting Pokemon Go up and running to try and lure (ha) some potential customers.
It’s too early to tell how much actual sales lift you’ll see from drawing Pokemon Go players into your place of business, but from the N-of-one anecdotal evidence at the food truck stop, it’s at least worth the buck you need to drop to buy a lure to see what happens.