Love it or hate it, you can’t deny it. Drones of kids (and adults) walking like zombies, glued to their phones, all in search of one thing – Pokémon. Since its release, Pokémon Go has surpassed Twitter in the amount of mobile users, while setting a new Apple record with the most app downloads in its first week. But the Pokémon Go craze is more than just that. In the marketing world, it’s the vanguard of a brand new medium with limitless possibilities.
Virtual reality has been a buzzword in our industry for a long time, with anticipation of its arrival growing every year. And the wait continues. While Pokémon Go is a step in the right direction, it’s not virtual reality. Instead, Pokémon Go utilizes augmented reality in which a digital element is overlaid onto the real world.
And in case you haven’t heard, Pokémon Go is already making people rich. Apple will rake in nearly $3 billion in the next couple of years from their cut of profits. Nintendo saw their stock soar until investors realized they weren’t the sole creator of the game. The game’s developer and spin off of Google, Niantic, has already said that it would offer advertisers sponsored locations down the road, but few details were given. It’s an obvious move that many brands are hotly anticipating.
Right now, the most beneficial aspect of Pokémon Go is the ability of the augmented reality technology to draw customers to specific, real world locations. It’s a cost-effective way for retailers to brand and market themselves. Within the app, players are allowed to purchase Lure Modules. When one is deployed at a PokéStop, it increases the number of Pokémon that gravitate toward that particular location for 30 minutes, allowing any player in the area to benefit if they stop by — so deploying a Lure Module could lure in more Poké-hungry customers. It’s estimated that it would cost around $1.17 per hour to use. Not too shabby.
But the big question is what’s next? How will marketers take advantage of augmented reality in the coming months and years? Pokémon Go is simply the guinea pig of this new advertising medium. Soon there will be newer and better games that take advantage of augmented reality. There will be new ways to communicate within this new world. And most importantly, there will be new ways to advertise.
And who knows, augmented reality may just be the stepping-stone to virtual reality, like the prehistoric QR Code was to the mobile revolution. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess. But one thing is for certain – an untapped world of advertising has been born in the shape of a weird little ball.
-Sam Potesky, Copywriter and Mindi Kern, Account Executive