Gotta Catch 'Em All—All Your Potential Customers, That Is . . .

Friends augmented reality mobile gamingAre your clients looking for ways to cash in on the Pokémon Go phenomenon? I bet you’ve fielded a call or two in the past week from executives asking how local restaurants and clothing stores become Pokéstops or who to call at Niantic to sign Growlithe for their next dog food commercial. Despite all the buzz that Pokémon Go is creating around your office and across the globe, programmatic monetization to capitalize on the game’s popularity is still in the earliest stages of development. John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, hinted to Financial Times that sponsored locations are coming soon to Pokémon Go, but, in the meantime, there are other creative ways to get your brick-and-mortar clients into the game.

Drive Foot Traffic in the Door

What makes Pokémon Go an in-store goldmine is that it wasn’t created to enable users to engage on their phones alone. It requires players to explore and interact with the physical world in order to advance in the game. This opens up retailers and public spaces to increased foot traffic. Since the game requires GPS-enablement, storefronts can buy in-app tools, like Lures that attract Pokémon creatures, to entice nearby hunters to come inside. At $1 each to activate (or less, if purchased in bulk), Lure placements are extremely cost-effective for quick-service business owners, like ice cream shops and boutiques, to experiment with immediately.

Enrich Your Customer Database

Mining smartphone activities for corporate CRMs is not a new concept. Since Foursquare launched the “check-in” nearly seven years ago, thousands of apps have linked users’ mobile habits to their CRM profiles. Yet, Pokémon Go has surpassed every other location-based application’s ability to capture the behaviors and preferences of its users. While a few have noted Pokémon Go’s policy is broader than most apps—requiring access to not just users’ locations and cameras but also to their Google accounts in some cases—most players are still downloading the game faster than a Rapidash. But until the Pokémon Go mobile app becomes beacon-enabled for third parties, business owners must rely on their own geofencing techniques to capture potential customers hunting nearby. By working with a programmatic media partner, your clients can set up geofences to accurately identify and serve ads to players within a specific radius of their store. Geofencing tools can then segment these potential customers into a custom audience within their CRM. Based on user behaviors in the real world, businesses can further build their extensive database of users, tagging each into specific categories such as “fast food lovers,” “movie goers”, or “truck enthusiasts.”

Power Hyper-Relevant Messages

It comes as no surprise that location-based advertising is going to be a significant portion of the game’s future revenue base. However, we also know traditional pop-up ads would destroy Pokémon Go’s augmented reality environment. Instead, Hanke shared that upcoming location sponsorships will likely be charged on a “cost per visit” basis, similar to the “cost per click” used in Google’s search advertising. Until location sponsorships and other corporate advertising opportunities are available, how can your clients jump on the bandwagon and connect digitally with potential customers hunting in the area? As shared above, marketers can use geo-fences to pinpoint those who enter inside of a defined radius, such as within a few feet of a particular storefront. Then, they can serve up hyper-relevant ads that share content with those users that will educate or enhance the in-store experience. Using the enriched data captured and identified by the geofence, businesses can also retarget those customers after their hunt with special offers, reminders about new product launches, and other messages to drive repeat visits. Now is the time to encourage your clients to get inventive. Play the game on your own. Look for PokéStops or Gyms nearby. Capitalize on the game’s popularity. Use those learnings in combination with advances in geofencing to track users, target new audiences, and share ads that are important to customers’ interests. In the end, there’s no denying that Pokémon Go has nailed the entertainment space. It’s nostalgic, yet cutting edge. It’s addictive, yet playable in short bursts, like on the bus-ride to work. It’s easy to learn, yet the adrenaline rush of catching a Pokémon creature keeps players coming back for more. But it’s still too soon to tell if Pokémon Go’s upcoming branded experiences will also nail the programmatic advertising space.