Pokémon Go Where? The Augmented Reality Revolution is an Open Door for Marketers

Playing Pokemon GOPokémon Go may be a game, but the inbound marketing opportunities are anything but child’s play.

Whether you’ve seen players wandering the streets trying to “catch them all” or been witness to friends and family succumbing to the craze, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Pokémon Go. In early July 2016, the smartphone app game took the world by storm, and users young and old jumped on the augmented reality bandwagon with a fervor. While some people still find the game silly and the obsession a bit insane, Pokémon Go is a surprising phenomenon in the world of mobile marketing strategies for small businesses and smart marketers.

What is Pokémon Go?

Without explaining the game’s intricacies, Pokémon Go uses a combination of geolocation (a lot like Geocaching) and augmented reality to let players locate, capture, collect, evolve, and battle Pokémon characters – fictional animal-like creatures. Players can find Pokémon that appear on a map in the area — the game encourages users to walk around in real-time to discover new creatures — and with a smartphone camera and the phone’s screen, players can interact with Pokémon that are superimposed into the real world. Sound like science fiction from the future? It kind of is.

How Can Marketers Take Advantage of Pokémon Go?

In the first week, Pokémon Go boosted Nintendo market value by more than $9 billion, and marketers took notice. Early adopters, like businesses that were already seeing increased foot traffic, started utilizing innovative, entertaining ways to bridge the gap between playing Pokémon Go and converting customers. Here’s how some have managed to do just that:

Taking Advantage of PokeStops

Players get bonuses for visiting physical locations that have been designated in the game as PokeStops. In reality, these locations often correspond to landmarks, businesses, statues, parks, etc., and taking advantage of PokeStops has proven to be a smart guerilla marketing move.

Whether you’ve got a PokeStop at your location (you’ll have to play the game to find out) or have created one nearby to attract players, you can place a “lure” on the spot to attract players. Believe it or not, Forbes suggests marketers use Pokémon Go lures because “This causes [your] PokeStop to attract more of the little digital monsters to this location, thereby ensuring that more and more players come to that Pokestop.” Not surprisingly, business is booming for brick and mortar retailers who capitalize on nearby PokeStops.

Advertise That You’re Part of the Pokémon Go Phenomenon

Another successful tactic businesses have been using to draw in the Pokémon Go crowd is to simply embrace the game and advertise that their business is in on the phenomenon. Everything from storefront window displays to Pokémon creature adoption signs and PokeStop symbol recreations have been spotted in the wild, and players have loved local retail participation. Once again, increased foot traffic and an inviting atmosphere is good for business.

Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to Pokémon Go

If you’re not sold on the notion of downloading the app and jumping on the bandwagon, maybe Reuters can help convince you, at least short-term. According to Reuters’ recent article on Pokémon Go, New York’s L’inizio Pizza Bar claims to have increased sales by 75 percent in a single weekend by spending only $10 and using the above-mentioned lure method. Not bad for a $10 investment and some tinkering on a smartphone, right?

In the same article, it’s highlighted that not only is Pokémon Go catching on with consumers, but the game is also starting to make similar geolocation-based services like Groupon and FourSquare sweat. While geolocation marketing like coupons and discounts aren’t exactly new, “There hasn’t been a geolocation social platform that can lure so many people all at once [like Pokémon Go].”

Augmented Mobile App Design Could Be the Future

It’s exciting to try and understand the influence and the unique inbound marketing services Pokémon Go has helped surface. Is it the Pokémon property that’s making the game such a success? Is it the combination of real-world geolocation with a play and reward system? If so, why have attempts failed in the past? To be fair, it’s still too early to call the Pokémon Go phenomenon much more than a current craze, but that hasn’t stopped marketers from trying to wring some secret sauce out of the mobile app.

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