Even if you’ve never once entertained the idea of playing any game other than Candy Crush on your phone, chances are good that you’ve more than likely heard about Pokemon Go by now, whether it be on the news, through your friends or social media accounts, or from a multitude of digital media experts.
Just putting “Pokemon Go” into a Google Search ends up giving you thousands of articles, blogs, and statistics on the record-breaking game. The mobile-based augmented reality app, based off of the hit Nintendo video and card game, has taken the world by storm, surprisingly with little to no digital or traditional marketing to speak of.
As your favorite New Jersey advertising agency, Digital Insider is more than happy to take you through not only what makes Pokemon Go so popular, but how its popularity has the ability to change the digital marketing and advertising landscape as we know it.
Pokemon Go is a mobile based application/augmented reality style game created in collaboration by developer Niantic Labs, Nintendo, and The Pokemon Company. Chances are good that sometime this year you’ve heard a lot more regarding virtual reality as an upcoming digital marketing trend. Basically, think of augmented reality as virtual reality’s half-brother. By definition, augmented reality is a live view of the real-world environment superimposed over a computer-created digital landscape.
In the case of Pokemon Go, once the application is opened, it accesses your mobile-device’s GPS or WiFi connection to create a digital landscape of your surroundings. From there, you can locate Pokemon simply by walking around; once found, you can switch the view of your surroundings to a live view, accessed by the camera in your phone – making it look like a Pokemon is sitting on your couch, or in your front yard. Add into the fact that the game also incorporates features of the Pokemon world (such as gyms or Poke-centers) superimposed upon actual real-life parks or landmarks, and it all leads to a believable digital landscape.
The augmented reality style of the game is one of the reasons it’s so popular – it builds upon the nostalgia of the original Nintendo Game Boy game by allowing Pokemon to step out of the digital realm and into reality. And seeing as most of the original players of the game are millennials who grew up with a mobile-device of some kind, it’s almost a natural progression from Game Boy to iPhone.
What’s almost more interesting about Pokemon Go is the lack of both digital and traditional marketing leading up to its release. Besides an initial trailer that was released in September 2015 (which lead to more information being released at this past June’s E3 conference) and basic radio silence from most of the major companies involved, you’ll find that most of the users who helped Pokemon Go become one of the top-grossing apps heard about it through word of mouth. Although Pokemon (as a game) is inherently popular already, instead of an all-out media blitz, Nintendo seemed content to take the “Cloverleaf”/J.J. Abrams approach – with every rumor or unsubstantiated fact spread about the game’s release, the more anticipated Pokemon Go became. And in a world where every new movie or video game has a major trailer release or conference premiere attached to it from day one, the release of Pokemon Go brought back the excitement of the original Nintendo game – again, capitalizing on the overall nostalgia and love of the original concept.
So What’s Next?
Nintendo has already released plans to take Pokemon Go to the next level by previewing Pokemon Go Plus, which is a smart-watch-like Bluetooth device (stylized in the form of a Pokeball, the little red-sphere which helps you capture Pokemon) that will notify the wearer when a Pokemon is nearby within the game, even if the user is not on the app or using their mobile-device at the time.
Also to come? Sponsored locations or sponsored advertising. Although currently, some smart business-owners have gotten players to visit their locations simply by luring Pokemon there (through the purchase of in-game power-ups), it’s been confirmed by Niantic CEO John Hanke in an interview with the Financial Times that “sponsored locations” are next up on the mobile-gaming app’s list.
As a sign of things to come in the digital marketing and advertising world, this is a major decision. Think about it – you’re playing Pokemon Go, only for it to be revealed that for a certain period of time, every Subway sandwich shop will have rare power-ups available for free, or that every Whole Foods Supermarket will feature a lure to catch a rare Pokemon. And with the augmented reality approach of the game already making waves with unintentional real-life business/game-play location pairings, this could lead to more opportunities for digital marketers in the future, especially within in the mobile application industry.
Advertising agencies such as Digital Insider need to stay on top of this feature so they can help their clients take advantage of the massive opportunities. And take it from us – you only have to take a basic look at the number of users playing Pokemon Go on any given day since the game’s launch just over two weeks ago to see how huge an impact sponsored content could have on both large and small businesses across the country.
So before you start thinking of Pokemon Go as “just another mobile-app”, consider this: from a digital marketing standpoint, Pokemon Go also has the ability to show how advertising agencies and businesses could become involved in marketing through not only augmented reality style games, but virtual reality games as well – and once that happens, the possibilities for digital marketing and advertising leap from the present and into the future and beyond.