Sponsored PokéStops and What Else Could Be Next for Pokémon Go Marketing
The news just won’t shut up about Pokémon, and with good reason. Niantic’s runaway critter-trap app has surpassed Twitter in daily active users and is now a more popular search term than “porn.” We all assumed the internet would break itself when that happened, yet here we are.
More interestingly, some businesses have taken strategies similar to the Pokémon Go marketing ideas we outlined last week and ran with them. Poképromotions like themed drinks, discounts for players and group meetups have already become the norm.
Yet, Pokémon Go marketing has yet to realize its full potential. Game updates could change the way we play while adding some interesting marketing opportunities on the side. Also, new apps could crib off of Pokémon Go’s design to offer the next level of loyalty apps. Be warned, Pokéfans, this may just be the beginning.
What? POKéMON GO MARKETING Is Evolving!
The big prediction that everyone had was that soon PokéStops — real-life locations you can get free items for use in Pokémon Go — would be sponsored. In other words, a business could pay money to turn their location into a PokéStop or even a Gym, thereby drawing consistent foot traffic and potential customers.
So far, McDonald’s is the only business suspected to take advantage of such a promotion. Some crafty Redditors discovered the McDonald’s logo in the Pokémon Go app’s source code, and a partnership in at least one Asian country has been all but confirmed.
Niantic also allowed a brief window of opportunity for other businesses to request to become PokéStops or PokéGyms. The idea was to add new locales to rural areas, where finding PokéStops is notoriously difficult. Predictably, everybody and their grandmother deluged Niantic with requests, causing them to resort to take-backsies rather quickly.
However, others are naturally eager to get in the mix. Simon Malls hopes to add even more PokéStops to its rich collection, allowing people to say “Let’s go to the mall!” with enthusiasm for the first time since Dawson’s Creek left the air. JC Penney goes one step further by cross-promoting Pokémon-themed clothing and merchandise to trainers who want to look the part.
On the online scene, real estate site Trulia released “hot spot” maps of predicted rare Pokémon locations, and Yelp has begun listing businesses that function as PokéStops as part of their search criteria.
And, of course, local small businesses are keen to cash in on the attention Pokémon Go can bring their locations, with all sorts of promotions being spotted in the wild, such as the ingenious “use a lure to get discounted food” promotion to the right.
We’re Not in Pallet Town Anymore
Looking forward, Pokémon Go may end up being a flash-in-the-pan fad, but its frighteningly fast ascent has set new precedents in the way digital and physical worlds collide. As other software developers no doubt take note, Pokémon Go’s Altered Reality (AR) game features could serve as the blueprint for apps to come.
Imagine an app that gave customers a discount if they shooed little elves away from every aisle end cap display at a large retail store. Or, an app that provides bonus loyalty status to Starbucks customers who have a drink at every location nearby within a week. These functions were once the dream of mad scientists and shut-in PokéProfessors, but with Pokémon Go as inspiration, we could just see a whole new wave of apps challenging people to be the very best in different ways. Whatever way you look at it, we’re not in Pallet Town anymore.
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