After being in the market for a few weeks now, soaring to unheard of levels in popularity, as well as revenue ($200M and counting), Pokemon Go has cemented itself as a cultural phenomenon. For now.
One of the biggest features of the game and something both the tech and marketing industries are salivating over is Augmented Reality (AR). With AR, users can find and capture Pokemon on their phone’s camera so it integrates the digital world with the real world; essentially the bridge to the all encompassing Virtual Reality.
As the marketing and tech worlds clamor over how to take advantage of, and monetize, the sudden massive popularity of AR, there’s just one question that people seem to be missing. How many people are actually using the AR function in Pokemon Go?
While the AR is an intriguing feature, the more people you see playing the game, the more you realize just how many people have turned the feature off. For one, it makes the game easier to play and in some cases safer (for users that play on a bike or even while driving).
Albeit a small sample size, I polled users on Twitter and Reddit and more than 80% of respondents answered that they never use AR in Pokemon Go. So has the AR excitement been premature or is the new wave of AR Marketing coming sooner than we all expect?
It might be a bit longer, or perhaps even just take minor game enhancements, to get more people on board with the AR and thus open the floodgates for marketers. I’ve heard users complain about the AR making the camera too shaky or even causing the Niantic app to crash more frequently. In the meantime though, marketers can and should expect to take advantage of the massive popularity of the game. With more active daily users than Twitter, it’s clear the attention is there so now it’s just a matter of capitalizing on that attention without alienating users. Companies like McDonalds are getting into the game earlier than most with sponsored Pokestops. You’ll soon be seeing McDonald’s locations that are like Lure’s and Incense on steroids and perhaps even feature exclusive content.
The number one goal of a brick and mortar business is to drive foot traffic and nothing does that better than a massively popular mobile app that legitimately forces people to walk around.
Google (who partners with app creator Niantic) has been pretty tight lipped about how marketers can get involved up to this point. So unless you’re one of those massive brands, you’ll need to rely on “old school” marketing like manually dropping Lures if you happen to be lucky enough to have a Pokestop near your business. Plenty of businesses have jumped on that opportunity already. I’ve seen it at a bar, an ice cream shop and even a hotel offering a discount on your meal. Whether AR is ready to make the jump to mainstream or not isn’t clear just yet, but what is apparent is the huge opportunity Pokemon Go presents for marketers everywhere.