Over the past few weeks you may have heard about an app called Pokemon GO. This phenomenon is sweeping the world right now, with over 100 million downloads and 60% of those who have downloaded the app since launch using it daily. As well as being a community success, financially it isn’t doing so badly either; Nintendo share prices increased by $9 billion dollars just five days after the app was released and it continues to make around $2 million a day, despite the app actually having been developed by Niantic.
This incredible attachment rate is no doubt due to the nostalgic effect of Pokemon. The original game came out in 1996 with yearly releases ever since, not to mention TV shows, merchandise, and whole communities devoted to the beloved franchise. As a lover of all things Pokemon it is great to see the franchise not only become ‘cool’ but also have an appeal that stretches across a wide age range. If you don’t believe me, you should see the local Pokestop outside our office!
But how can this app impact on the future of online marketing?
Access to information
There is a significant amount of personal information users are willing to provide to have access to the game, and marketing teams around the world would likely pay a significant sum to have access to this data.
A key example of how this could be applied would be through email targeting. Pokemon GO uses smartphone location technologies, giving businesses the opportunity to send tailored emails dependent on the locations of potential customers. Restaurant owners, for example, could ping an email to any app users who are within the vicinity of their business to either raise awareness as it comes to typical meal times or to offer discount codes to entice potential customers in.
This insight could be combined with weather data to allow marketers to suggests where users can head for shelter or an umbrella if rain is due at their location.
Could there be functionality in the near future for local businesses to be able to set up their own Pokestops, similar to Google My Business? This would attain huge jumps in footfall and awareness for niche stores that might typically miss out on this by not being on the main high street. Independent stores rejoice! You may have a new local strategy to get a huge demographic aware of your establishment. Imagine what a sunny day would do for your ice cream stand if curious adventurers came just to claim the rewards for visiting the Pokestop you set up.
On a larger scale
How could this be used by high end franchises? Well, partnerships could be formed in certain locations with large chains. What if every McDonald’s had a special unique Pokemon? Would users be tempted to pick up a meal while seeking out the exclusive characters?
Alternatively, there could be setups for communities at these locations. Discounts or bonuses for dedicated trainers, perhaps, or a loyalty based system. Who knows how the landscape would adapt to this and what new strategies could be put in place in order to increase relationships and loyalty.
Augmented Reality display
We all know how much QR codes have affected print advertising; establishing a link between the physical realm and the online world is essential to improving user engagement. The whole concept of Pokemon GO revolves around this idea. Much like how Google Maps highlights particular businesses, for example bars, craft stores, hotels, etc., Niantic could introduce this functionality into the game world and allow users to see virtual posters and billboards around themselves as well as the Pokemon themselves. If display advertising spreads onto this app, it is highly likely that Google will adopt a similar approach for their Google Maps service. Billboards may be outdated, but AR billboards? Only time will tell.
It is worth noting that at this point it is all speculation; the terms and conditions put forward by Niantic before signing up are very vague around the notion of passing information onto third parties. At the moment they say that information can be passed on, but just for research rather than active marketing. This could quite easily change in the future, however. Players are eagerly awaiting Niantic’s next game (rumoured to be a Harry Potter version of Pokemon GO). Nothing has been confirmed by Niantic, but it would be an easy move for the company to make and would, without a doubt, be financially beneficial.
Location based marketing in this way is by no means new, Pokemon GO just offers an evolution with such widespread appeal. For the time being we can only speculate as to how this trend will impact on our day-to-day work, or if Pokemon GO’s popularity will even endure. As online marketers we are used to constant change in the industry, and recent technological advances in customer targeting combined with the extreme popularity of the Pokemon GO app hints at some of the opportunities that could be on the horizon.