In less than a week, Pokémon GO has inundated the internet and social media outlets with feverish intensity. In the wake of its debut, Nintendo’s valuation has increased by $9 billion and shares have surged upwards of 20%. How did an outdated 1990s gaming platform initiate such a viral blitz? The app’s prodigious success is befuddling considering Nintendo didn’t execute traditional marketing practices and instead relied on unsolicited word of mouth promotion.
Pokémon GO channels the inner millennial’s youth, evoking the nostalgic pleasure of reconnecting with their past. Using augmented reality technology, Pokémon GO marries real-world visuals with Pokémon characters. Tapping into your phone’s GPS and clock, the game automatically computes which characters to place in front of you. Although the app is free, Nintendo has monetized from in-app purchases, such as Lure Modules to catch Pokémon creatures. At only $0.50 to implement, Lure placements are extremely accessible for users and business owners to capitalize from.
Businesses have leveraged this newfound Pokéconomy by setting Lures to entice customers inside – a true embodiment of the creativity that can be found in augmented reality marketing . The app’s developer, Niantic, said that Pokémon GO intends to create “sponsored locations” that brands can buy into to attract users within proximity. McDonalds is rumored to be Pokémon GO’s first sponsorship which would mean that all McDonald’s locations will temporarily be recognized as gyms.
Pokémon GO’s advertising platform would allow for partners to pay a premium in order to have Pokémon creatures appear in a specified location, like a restaurant or amusement park. From a marketing perspective, the interactive experience of ‘catching’ Pokémon at a physical sponsored location would equate to Pokémon GO users buying whatever product or service the location offers. Brilliant, assuming the app can evolve to maintain relevancy.
Legions of Pokémon GO users crashed the server, and other users have complained about the unrealistic scale of creatures. Pokémon GO’s relevancy is contingent upon Niantic’s technology adoption and ability to respond to the fallacies of the current user interface. We forecast the push towards augmented reality will spur faster innovation from software developers like Microsoft or Google.
Over the past couple of years, Snapchat has improved upon it’s features and capabilities, revamping offerings for users and advertisers. The increased adoption of social video and Snapchat has definitely helped Pokémon GO users find comfort in the seemingly invasive AR experience. However, unlike Snapchat’s recent introduction of Snap Ads, Pokémon GO’s interface is not a conducive environment for popups, consequently enriching any potential marketing opportunities and interactions between a brand and the app’s users.
The big takeaway is that Pokémon GO wasn’t created to engage a user and their phone; instead the cultural phenomenon mobilizes users to traverse their surroundings and connect with the other 21 million daily active users.