Pokémon Go And The Digital Landscape

Estimated Reading Time 7 minutes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you should be aware by now of Pokémon Go; the augmented reality game for both Android and Apple phones. It became the most successful mobile game in US history after just five days, toppling gaming behemoth Candy Crush Saga (success was measured by daily active users, Pokémon Go having nearly 21 million, Candy Crush Saga at its peak hitting 20 million). As an app it already has a higher average usage time than the likes of WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook messenger, and it is soon to overtake the likes of Twitter and Facebook in terms of daily active users, making it the most popular app on the planet!

What sets the game apart from most mobile games (apart from the nostalgic value that the Pokémon franchise holds over millennials), is the augmented reality that players enter when playing the game. Having to roam with your location enabled as well is a unique feature that not many other games have, meaning you actually have to go out and interact with the world around you, as well as other players.

What Is The Business Case?

First let’s look at a few examples of how it’s already being used. Take New York pizzeria “L’inzio Pizza Bar” for example, the manager spent $10 on an in app purchase called “Lures” (a feature that lures Pokémon to a specific location for a period of time) within the restaurant. This attracted a lot more people to come into the restaurant and play the game over a slice of pizza and a beer – the businesses’ revenue spiked by 75% in one week!  It’s a trend that’s continued for small businesses; the guy who sells coffee at my train station is now doing specific deals for people who are playing Pokémon Go on the platform he sells coffee from.

How Will It Work From A Digital Marketing Standpoint?

So at the moment those who are benefiting from it are primarily small businesses profiting from Pokémon being in their location, but can you actually advertise to people via the app? Well, no, not yet anyway! With the reach it currently has – especially within the millennial demographic, it is likely to be a matter of time before advertising features are rolled out for businesses to implement into their marketing strategy.

As your signed up to the app via the play store or app store, it will already have access to vast amounts of data about you in order to target you via age, gender, interest’s etc. but the geo-location side of the app is what will really get marketers attention. With Pokémon Go being so dependent on your location always being enabled, this gives a great opportunity for local marketing. Seeing where you are, and what businesses you are around frequently will help marketers make informed decisions about what and how they advertise to you.

As of this writing, Ad Age have announced that Pokémon Go is capitalising on its current popularity and will allow brands to start advertising on the platform sooner rather than later. Having “Sponsored locations” to catch Pokémon, in which marketers will be charged per visit to their location as opposed to per click like search advertising.

Here To Hang Around?

It’s only been a couple of weeks, so there is always the possibility of it being another flash in the pan, but it’s very hard to imagine it going away considering the impact it’s had. Shares in Nintendo have risen by 25% since it was launched, and is making somewhere in the region of $1.6 million a day in the app store alone, and this is all before advertising has been launched, so the financial incentive to keep it around is definitely present.

The cultural impact is what has taken – and continues to take the world by storm, from people catching Pokémon in busy motorways, to getting lost in mines, to burgling other peoples houses! The game has been one of the top trending stories on social media sites Facebook and Twitter every day since its launch, it’s being talked about on the news and on chat shows, everyone is currently on the Pokémon bandwagon, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Nick Blane
Nick is a recent graduate of Music and Live Events Management from Bucks New University in High Wycombe. Though his business background centred within the music industry, his exposure and involvement in marketing and social media engagement for brands, helped him take a more holistic approach and apply his connection of digital with sociology along with his entrepreneurial skills.