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So, We Looked Into Pokémon Go…

By: Leon C.

Nintendo released Pokémon Go to app stores last week. In three days it became the United States’ most downloaded app of all time and is quickly becoming one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of 2016. Pokémon Go is an “Augmented Reality” (AR) game. It uses GPS tracking to pinpoint where the player is in the world [SM1] using its own version of Google Maps. As the player walks around the world in real life, so does the character on the screen. The app scatters Pokémon across the map, prompting players to walk distances to reach and catch these Pokémon. The more a player walks around, the more Pokémon s/he will be rewarded with. The player also levels up as s/he progresses through the game, which puts stronger, rarer Pokémon on their screen.

Here’s where it gets social. The app scatters “Pokéstops” around the world, automatically generating them on landmarks. For example, almost every L station in Chicago is a Pokéstop. Users are encouraged to visit Pokéstops, which give the player items that make it easier to capture Pokémon. Players can also buy and place “Lure Modules” at these Pokéstops, which attract Pokémon and make them easier to find for nearby players. This is a huge social aspect of the game;  you’re almost guaranteed to find another player (friend?) at a Lured Pokéstop. 

Needless to say, this game is having an immeasurable impact on the world this week. Naturally, advertisers are innately curious to understand the how’s and why’s of consumers using this app. So we measured the top three brand draws of the game:

1. A new way to experience the world. Nintendo, realizing that smartphones are the future of gaming, has created a game that fully takes advantage of its platform. Combining Pokémon with smartphones’ GPS and internet capability has given the world its first widespread augmented reality experience. This is going to have considerable implications for advertising and media, as people will be interacting with the outdoors more through their smartphones. Screen time is about to take an upward turn (as if it wasn’t already).

2. Business owners have a new means of generating traffic. The Pokémon Go phenomenon is unprecedented, but businesses are already finding creative ways to capitalize on the app. Shop owners lucky enough to have a Pokéstop near their location have already seen an influx of foot traffic. According to Ad Age, an Atlanta cafe adjacent to two Pokéstops is using Lure Modules to attract customers to the area. The cafe offers free food to anyone who shows them captured Pokémon. Other brands, big and small, have populated their social media pages with Pokémon Go.

3. An excuse to explore. Pokémon Go has blurred the line between video games and social media. Players are using the app to explore their cities, with Pokéstops bringing players to places they would never have even heard about. This mechanic has laid the foundation for shares and memes, and has conceived a community of millions of players through various online channels.

So, why do we care? Well, as with any viral media, we believe in staying ahead of the curve. Thinking non-traditionally is an important element of creativity, and advertising through Pokémon Go is just that – non-traditional. Who knows, maybe we won’t need to use the app in a campaign. But if it works, we’ll know and we’ll use it. Because we believe in the importance of leaving no Geodude left unturned.

Found: Squirtle at TDH.

07.13.16   The Biz

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