What Can Marketers and Advertisers Take from the Pokémon Go! Craze?

If you’ve been paying attention over the past month, you may have observed a few zombie like groups of millennial youths blindly crossing the street, cell phone in hand, virtually oblivious to their surroundings. If you’ve seen this, it is most likely that they are following the latest craze, err epidemic, that is Pokémon Go!

Earlier last month, Pokémon Go, a free-to-play location-based, augmented reality (AR) mobile game, developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company, was released for IOS and Android devices. So far the app has been so popular that is has currently overtaken Twitter in terms of daily users and has seen people spending more time on its app than on Facebook.


The object of the game is to walk around your surroundings in AR catching Pokémon creatures wherever you may find them (got to catch them all!), upgrade their abilities, and then challenge/battle them against other players at local Pokémon gym locations.

Most importantly, there are also special landmarks (based off real time locations), called ‘Pokéstops’, where players can pick up additional items or set up ‘lures’ to attract both Pokémon characters and Pokémon hunters to that area for about 30 minutes.

Let’s take a closer look at Pokémon Go and explore how businesses and advertisers can take advantage of this latest craze:

Location and In-Store Marketing Lures

Being both a digital marketer and a Pokémon Go player, I instantly saw a few very simple and innovative ways for certain businesses to take advantage and obtain free marketing and PR, as well as potentially reach additional patrons and consumers.

The only caveat is that the businesses need to have a ‘Pokéstop’ at, or at the very least, be within close proximity of their location.

A few of the ways a business can take advantage of these landmark stops are discussed below:

In-Store Specials/Promotions

If businesses have a ‘Pokéstop’ near them, it’s logical that on-foot street traffic should increase in that area as well, especially if a lure is active. For this reason, a smart business should take advantage of the opportunity to promote a sale or daily special that will have the potential to attract customers and possibly increase revenue. A good example can be found in the accompanying photo.

Pokemon Go!

While scuba diving has only a niche market, they:

  • Promote their business using a Pokémon Go advertisement.
  • Provide a free raffle for increased interest targeted at passers-by.

What is not visually available in this example is the fact that this business is in a remote location where there is not much foot traffic coming by. However, by having a Pokéstop at their business location and exploiting it with a related advertisement and special offer they have created the potential for an increase in customers.

Restaurant/Bar Promotions

If a business happens to be a restaurant, café, or bar, ideally it should constantly drop lure modules at the establishment. Since a lure module lasts about 30 minutes, businesses can expect patronage to increase as diners may be more inclined stop by, hang around, have a few drinks, or grab a bite to eat while they hunt for Pokémon.

While lure modules are rare to come by, businesses can obtain 1 for about $1 from the Pokémon app store (or even get them cheaper if they buy them in bulk). However, if the establishment is a bar or cafe, it definitely has the potential opportunity to make additional revenue for the business with this strategy.

Yelp Adds PokéStop Filter Feature

Smart businesses should take notice, because as an added bonus, recently, Yelp, yes Yelp, launched a new filter to help players locate Pokéstops near all of their favorite local restaurants. With that in mind, not only will local companies gain the potential for additional patronage, but they may now have the opportunity get positive ratings/reviews on the business review app as well, (a double whammy!).

Yelp PokeStop Nearby

What Lessons Can Marketers Learn from Pokémon Go!?

Now the big question is: What are some of the key parallels from Pokémon Go that marketers can focus on to ensure a successful campaign?

Identify Your Core Audience

One of the most important things in marketing is to have a defined targeted audience for your product. You would most likely avoid trying to sell a fishing pole to someone who lived in the desert, correct?

This same rule should apply to all successful marketing campaigns. In the case of Pokémon Go, the ideal audience for the game is millennials; the original game was popular when the audience was young so it is natural that the new game’s release would attract the 20 to 30 year old demographic.

The same rule should apply when building out a search marketing campaign: You want to identify your audience to the product you are selling. This should take the form of relevant keywords and ad copy that will correctly portray your product offering. Location (geographic) targeting is also an important variable to consider, as it can help your advertising focus on the areas where you’ll find the right customers.

Mixed Marketing

Smart companies won’t put all of their focus on one marketing channel; most will increase advertising reach across a mix of outlets to ensure maximum ROI. As discussed above, smart businesses are taking advantage of Pokémon Go! using both the mobile gaming app and combining this with their own creative advertising (i.e. promotions, eye catching sidewalk advertising, etc.).

Effective search campaigns should apply similar strategy and use a mixed marketing formula for maximum reach. Search marketing advertisers should combine organic and paid campaigns, and have ad placements across computers, tablets, and, most importantly, mobile devices, which have gained significant traction over the past few years.

Be Proactive – Attract Customers

Like businesses dropping lures at Pokéstop locations to attract additional customers, search marketers should attempt to function in the same manner. Doing research for Google or Bing platform changes/updates can help your cause, as you have the chance to take advantage of being the first to enter a specific advertising strategy. Proactively reaching your customers through additional advertising platforms and channels besides Google and Bing also adds a layer of mixed marketing to your campaigns.

Final Thoughts

Only time will tell the impact Pokémon Go will have on not just gameplayers but smart businesses wanting to take advantage of this latest craze. But one thing is clear: In just one month, Pokémon Go has already made its mark.  Could Pokémon Go end up being one of the best marketing tactics of 2016?

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