The Rise of Pokémon Go: Opportunities for Brands

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The Rise of Pokémon Go: Opportunities for Brands


In early July, Niantic, Inc. released Pokémon Go, a virtual reality game accessible via mobile devices. The game uses GPS and camera features allowing players to find, catch and use Pokémon that they find in the, seemingly, “real world.” This requires users to visit different sites where they can catch Pokémon, immersing reality into the gaming world.

Pokemon Go Screenshots

Image courtesy of Google

And while Pokémon Go doesn’t offer ads, it will soon be offering something very similar. Currently, Pokémon Go features a map of “locations,” “Pokestops,” “gyms,” etc. where Pokémon can be caught. Forbes noted that John Hanke, Niantic CEO, stated that “sponsored locations” will likely be coming to the game soon, allowing advertisers to pay to have their store location become a Pokestop.


Sponsored Locations & Targeting

Although the “sponsored location” details have yet to be discussed and worked out, we can expect that this feature will allow brands to leverage location-based targeting. Just as brands have the opportunity to target consumers based on previous behaviors, purchases and search habits, it’s likely that Pokémon Go will offer brands the opportunity to target specific consumers through search/location-based data.

For example, if a retailer has gathered information that a specific Pokémon Go user has previously shopped online through their website, and is also in the vicinity of one of the stores, brands can target these consumers to visit their store as a Pokestop. This would give brands the opportunity to target consumers that have previously expressed interest in their brand and/or purchased products through their website. By encouraging the user to visit the store for the sake of the game, brands are enabling consumers to shop, especially if discounts and special prices are promoted for Pokémon Go players.

Catering to Consumer Intent

Pokémon Go requires players to walk, drive, bike, etc. in order to play the game. Essentially, users must be active to participate. Because of this, brands can play into the consumer’s motivation. Along with the idea that “sponsored locations” will allow brands to target users based on location, brands should also target consumers based on intent.

Once these “sponsored locations” become available, it’s likely that many companies will pay to have their store location become a Pokestop. Within a specific radius, users will have several sponsored Pokestop locations to choose from and visit. Understanding why they choose one location over another is significant and crucial.

Brands should track and leverage data that allows brands to understand which consumers are visiting their store for Pokestop purposes and purchasing products while playing the game, as well as uncovering lost opportunities. Ultimately, this will give brands a better idea of their performance with the user base.

Running Paid Search Ad Copy

Although “sponsored locations” are only featured within the video game, brands can still promote their advertising efforts through Paid Search campaigns. By running keywords that relate products/services back to Pokémon Go, brands can create ad copy and keyword targeting strategies that direct consumers to a promotional page.

For example, if a brand that paid for a “sponsored location” within Pokémon Go decided to run a promotional offer for consumers that play the game, they could create ad copy that provided consumers with promotional product pages solely for these consumers, urging them to stop into the store by leveraging the Pokestop feature. This would increase traffic and awareness, not only to the website, but to the store location as well. This will prompt consumers to purchase products while playing the game.

Search Engine Optimization

While the video game doesn’t directly impact search engine optimization (SEO), it may in the future. Just as consumers leverage Google Play and the App Store to rate certain games, users may begin rating and reviewing “Pokestops,” “Gyms” and other locations. Depending on the consumer experience when visiting a Pokémon Go location, reviews could either harm or help a brand’s traffic, sales and overall SEO performance. According to SearchEngineLand, if this type of feature is created, it’ll work similarly to Yelp.

Unfortunately, as we watch Pokémon Go progress, we can already speculate that businesses within multiple industries will be attempting to bid on keywords and buy sponsored locations during specific timeslots to increase foot traffic. Because of this, it’s easy to say that pricing will be hiked up, making it very expensive for brands to buy locations. But overall, this virtual video game will provide brands with serious opportunities to increase traffic and awareness among specific demographics.

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