Pokémon Go Finally Gets Augmented Reality Right

We here at Target Marketing have tried to get behind augmented reality on several occasions. I even once said “of course QR Codes are gonna work, it just makes sense!” Scott Stratten said they killed kittens. Turns out he was right. So imagine my chagrin to see Pokemon — a bunch of Bulbasaurs and Jigglypuffs led by an electric rat — role out an augmented reality experience that conquered the world in less than a week.

This is a little heartbreaking, but you cannot request, suggest or purchase a rare pokémon, pokéstop or pokégym — physical places players visit to collect items and complete challenges in the game — for your store location.

The groundwork for Pokémon Go’s mapping was laid by another Nantic game called Ingress. Ingress players visit significant real world locations to open and control portals, and it has a function that allows players to tell Nantic what spots are interesting. It also gathered a ton of data about locations players commonly visited. That data now feeds the mapping logic used to place all this pokéstuff all over the world, and Nantic isn’t taking requests to alter that at this time.

However, there is a good chance you have some sort of pokéstop near you …

4. There Is Still a Marketing Opportunity in Pokémon Go

Many, many storefronts have Pokéstops near enough that players can access form inside the store — stops have a radius of about 50 feet, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be in your store to benefit your store. A lucky few have pokégyms, which are even bigger draws. Some marketers are already taking advantage of these places.

Forbes has an interesting story about Huge Cafe in Atlanta, which actually has access to two pokéstops from inside its coffee shop. The owner spent real money in the game to buy lures, which allow those pokéstops to attract more pokémon, and Pokémon Go players. So far he’s spent $50 on lure, and couldn’t be happier with the investment.

Eater.com has a broader article about how restaurants in general are dealing with the influx of Pokémon players, including some good and bad habits from multiple locations.

Whether you start baiting pokéstops, add a menu item or swag for Pokémon players, or even just hang a sign saying they’re welcome (or that pokémon and the bathrooms are for paying customers only), retail locations have a lot of opportunities to capitalize on this gaming trend.

Using Pokémon for marketing in your workplace is good. Playing Pokémon in your workplace, not so much.
Just be careful about who’s playing it in your place of business.

5. Native Advertising Is Unexplored, but Potentially Huge

Nantic’s games are generally free to play and funded through optional in-app purchases of things like the lures I mentioned above. They don’t do a lot of in-game advertising, and to my knowledge Nintendo has never done in-game advertising.

But wow is there a native advertising opportunity being missed here.

The advertising could take a few forms, and they don’t need to include any in-game sponsorships, which might ruin the player experience. Simply being able to apply to have a pokéstop or pokégym on your site could be a huge money maker for them and the marketers using it.

There’s an even bigger opportunity in being able to pay to have a rare pokémon show up at your location. Pokémon are collectible, and the best ones are hard to find. The chance to tell people they’ll be able to catch one at your grand opening, black Friday sale or other event could bring in a lot of on-demand foot traffic.

The Pokéfuture

There’s no guarantee Pokémon Go will continue to be a hit next year, or even next month. But the concept has been proven. We can have augmented reality experiences people actually want to experience, and they offer ample marketing opportunities.

The only question is, will you be able to catch them all?

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

14 thoughts on “Pokémon Go Finally Gets Augmented Reality Right”

  1. Decades ago I took my kids when they were young to the Pokémon movie — the worst film I have EVER seen. I have never understood the attraction but my kids and all their friends loved it.

      1. It’s dangerous. Young adults walk around or drive at night concentrating on the game and ignoring other pedestrians and cars.

  2. Where did you find a Bulbasaur? I found a Jigglypuff already…

    Seriously though…I do have a Jigglypuff.

    However, back to AR. I have seen some really neat stuff done with it and I love its use in PoGO. I have researched using it in a book recently and found that, if you’re not DIY, the vendor pricing structures are geared toward using it on DM or tracking usage or response. It would be great if there were more flexible pricing structures and maybe you’d see it in a lot more fun, unexpected places. Use it on a menu so the patron can see a special dish being prepared, maybe or a video where Guy Fieri visited your Diner, Drive-In or Dive?

    Now excuse me, I think there’s a Squirtle under my co-worker’s desk.

    1. The menu example is the kind of use case we’ve been talking about for a while, but I don’t think they’ve really taken off. I’ve seen a lot of “cool” things done with it, but I’ve never seen a lot of people actually use the AR experiences offered. In fact I think the best way to do the video menu things is actually touchscreens on tables, not AR.

      PoGo seems to work precisely because it’s a thing on itself, it’s not expanding on something else. It’s adding a different environment and experience that almost all of Pokemon’s customers have always wanted to play in. I think that’s the key.

      1. I agree, the AR option is used but its a bit more obvious your out and about catching invisible monsters. I tend to turn off AR mode because of this exact reason but also easier to be sneaky with it when im places i shouldnt be playing lol.

        I have a feeling once the watch gets released the AR mode will be used even less because you will rarely have to look at your phone to check out pokestops or catch pokemon you already caught.

  3. They did a great job marketing this, bringing old Pokemon lovers back to it, I feel there a lot of those who fell out because they were “too cool” are now grown up and realize they can be themselves are all taking advantage of this. It is too bad that businesses are unable to purchase Pokestops/Gyms though, that would be insane for inbound marketing, plus Nantic can make tons of money this way im sure.

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