Pokémon Go – The Future Virtual Reality Marketing World

By Travis LeJune, Account Intern

It’s July 2016, and I am doing the same thing I was doing in July 1999. I would be questioning myself if it weren’t for the fact that everyone else is doing the same thing. Pokémon is back! Who hasn’t heard? The Pokémon Company and Niantic have teamed up to give us a real world experience in which we see Pokémon all around us in real time! To give you a literal description, instead of walking around using a joystick in a virtual world, you are a character on a map just like Google Maps, and there are Pokémon all around you in the real world! Now, as much as I love Pokémon and am excited to be playing this new game, I’m not here to describe my excitement, or explain the gameplay or tip you off to be the best trainer, or even warn you of the dangers of staring at your phone instead of where you are going!

Pokemon Go

I’m a marketing guy, so I am immediately looking at this game as a unique advertising portal, especially once you read some of the statistics I’m about to lay out for you.

First of all, in less than two days after its release, it had more active users then Tinder. And now, five days after the release, it’s about to pass up Twitter! It has been number one on the top of Google Play Store and the Apple Store, ahead of Snapchat, Instagram, Candy Crush, and all the other apps everyone has on their phones, since the day of its release.

Nintendo’s stock jumped 10% in its first day, and yesterday was up 25%. It added $9 billion to Nintendo’s market value in just a couple days. That is insane. Long story short, everybody and their mother is walking around aimlessly trying to find new Pokémon to catch. Like I said, I’m a marketing guy. I look at this as a new realm of possibilities to reach consumers. With advertising changing so quickly right now, marketers are looking for new ways to reach consumers, and a real-time and space application encouraging consumers and businesses to use each other; well, this is could be the answer advertising is looking for.

So the game is hugely popular. From a marketing stand point, I’m going to break this article down into two parts: current marketing potential and future marketing potential.

Let’s start with this cool feature I ran across while walking through downtown Asheville and playing the game. You can buy something called “Incense” in the game, which attract wild Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes. Then there is also something called “PokéStops” which are places in Pokémon Go that allow you to collect items such as eggs and more Poké Balls to capture more Pokémon. You must be close to this landmark in order to use the PokéStop. There is also a “Lure Module” that attracts Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes. Now, unfortunately you cannot choose to be a PokéStop or a Gym, which is where players battle each other and train. These locations are picked by Niantic, and we can only hope they give businesses the option to turn their shop into a PokéStop soon. But there are PokéStops everywhere, and if there is not one right on your business, there is most likely one down the street. So how can you encourage players (or trainers) to hang around your shop? If you happen to be a PokéStop, put out a sign letting players know you are a PokéStop.

Pokemon, Pokestop, pokemon go, marketing

If you are not lucky enough to be a PokéStop (which is huge free advertising for the businesses that were lucky enough to become PokéStops), buy the “Incense” and let your customers know when you will be having a bunch of wild Pokémon hanging around. Even offer discounts for playing the game in your shop. Post all of this on your social media accounts, or even create events for Pokémon trainers to gather to. I’m actually going on a Pokémon Go Bar Hop this weekend with a big group of people, and if you are a bar, set up your own Pokémon Go bar deals and encourage this kind of consumerism. What other ways can you attract trainers to your business and keep them there?

You can offer complimentary (or paid) charging stations for users to plug-in and charge their phones (the number one downfall of this on-the-go game is it dramatically drains your battery). Take advantage of this fault! Turn your business into a local hotspot for Pokémon Go trainers. You could even gain interaction on your social media platforms by posting pictures of the Pokémon your customers caught at your store and encouraging players to post pictures of Pokémon they’ve seen or caught at your store.

So besides posting on your social media and signs outside your business welcoming Pokémon trainers, what other ways can this new game be used to advertise? This is something to be looking forward to. The advertising opportunities are endless, and as the game continues to develop, we’re sure they will be coming up with ways to make their advertising dollar.

The game that is blowing up everyone’s newsfeeds and conversations is only in its first stage, by the way. Sort of a beta or rough draft, per say. Meaning there is much more to come. In fact, Niantic’s CEO stated that the game would have bi-weekly updates. So what is the future potential for advertising within the game?

Niantic will certainly create sponsorships and team up with large corporations to sponsor locations and gyms on the map, as they did similarly for their last mobile game, Ingress. Niantic Product Manager Brandon Badger explained their business model back in 2014: “I think that, we hope to end up with a model where, potentially there could be a cost-per-visit type model where large brands and small brands, as well, could sponsor different elements of the game, with the end of interacting with players and really tapping into that enthusiasm of players.” So the big businesses will get sponsorships, the little guys get PokéStops and Lures. What if Niantic teamed up with FitBit to keep track of how many steps you are taking, which is how you hatch your eggs to get rare Pokémon (by walking 5 or 10km) – that’s an idea! What else will we see within this brand new type of application? Will it become a social media platform in a Pokémon world, with paid advertising and interactive businesses? Will businesses be able to advertise their location to nearby users as a hub of trainers for battling?

I will be excited to see how Pokémon Go makes room in the advertising industry for itself and how we marketers, advertisers, business owners, and entrepreneurs will be able to take advantage of this massive trend.


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