If you live in a decent sized city and you have any kind of observation skills at all, you have seen people walking around, zombie-like, with their phones in front of them searching. The people I refer to represents a pretty diverse demographic; overwhelmingly millennial, including women and minorities. In case you have been under a rock the last few weeks, they are playing Pokémon Go, an interactive game that has taken the world by storm. It’s the most downloaded game in history and has rocketed past Twitter, Pandora and Netflix in active usage. As with most new phenomena, there are plenty of haters saying how dumb the players are and blah, blah, blah. I find it innovative, exciting and an amazing catalyst for future development on so many levels!
First, the architecture of the game is built to play in the real world. Parents unite! Your children may come out of their rooms and go (wait for it), OUTSIDE! I saw a post a few days ago made by a friend of mine and she was out on bikes with her 14-year-old son and his friends, playing Pokémon Go! Nice bonding opportunity! And I am certain she was also making sure they didn’t ride off of a cliff in search of a Pikachu. Apparently that has happened. According to a recent Street Fight article, the success is a result of execution and timing. Social and viral components are adding fuel to the fire. In addition, the Pokémon franchise is widely lauded and recognized.
As a marketer, the possibilities are intriguing to say the least. Naturally Pokémon will cash in by eventually launching in-game sponsored ads, as announced by John Hanke, Niantic Labs CEO. In the meanwhile, SMB’s are leveraging the popularity of the game by buying Lures and “incense” to bring Pokémon Go players near and to their locations. I have also seen local businesses offer specials for players, and even pointing out nearby Pokémon and gyms as a way to connect with customers via social media.
The most important aspect of all of this is the fact that the players (in the millions already) have all opted in to GPS location sharing. This is THE key component to location based marketing. Pokémon Go is creating a huge network of people to advertise directly to and it will all be based on their location! The challenge in the future will be to replicate the desire in the user to share their location. With Pokémon Go you can’t play without it. What other applications could be applied outside of the gaming world that would create this kind of connection?
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Also published on Medium.