In the last week, the release of the Pokemon Go game has taken the world (and its mobile devices) by storm, with 7.5 million downloads & $1.6 million daily revenue, and unless you’ve been living in complete isolation you are likely to have encountered it in some shape or form. For me, it’s meant several people crashing and knocking into me along Liverpool Street due to the recent numbers of Poke Stops made available (locations where you can go to retrieve more Pokeballs and eggs for those not in the know).
What is the real benefit for the game owners?
It seems that it’s not only the players who are collecting things within the game. If the game is used when logged in from an iOS device, Pokemon Go has full access to your Google Account. Though the developers of the app, Niantic, have said that they will limit the degree of access they request in the future, it seems likely that the targeting capabilities of the app will hold advertising potential, especially considering the amount of rich audience and location data available.
Many advertisers and the developers of the game themselves have already recognised the opportunity it holds. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” would provide an additional revenue stream, alongside in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items. Sponsored locations would work in a similar way to Google Waze, where advertisers can feature on the app’s virtual or augmented reality maps and are charged on a cost-per-visit model.
What does this mean for businesses?
Whilst this feature is still in the planning stages for Pokemon Go, there are ways in which brick-and-mortar businesses can capitalise on the current hype now. It’s possible to set off “lures” at your shop or business, which increase the number of Pokemon that are available in the area for 30 minutes. If these lures are detonated at peak times, and providing the product on offer is relevant to the Pokemon Go audience, they could lead to a significant uplift in in-store footfall and sales. The Financial Times reports that L’inizio Pizza Bar in New York saw a 75% increase in business after buying a $10 in-game power-up that lured Pokémon (and customers) to its location.
Although it’s still in its infancy, Pokemon Go has the potential to become a serious advertising channel for brick-and-mortar businesses. With already more than 27 million active users in the United States and higher in app usage time than Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat, proactive businesses might well profit from trying to catch ‘em all.