We're quite sure that by now there isn't anyone who has not at least heard about Pokémon Go - its virality is just that intense. The app, which allows you to hunt and catch Pokémon in the real world, has been downloaded by over 15 million people worldwide since its release.
The app uniquely overlaps the classic game with the normal landscape, making users walk around in real life using Google Maps data. The game’s audience has reached adulthood and is mobile-first, a new demographic compared to the original Pokémon game which appealed to the younger generation. It has been immensely successful with little marketing spend, so much so that its servers crashed across the US and Europe due to the sheer mass of downloads for the app as global demand continued to rise. Pokémon Go's main selling point has been its use of augmented reality and real-world points of interest, a massive opportunity for marketers.
Social mentions and app usage
Brandwatch tracked over 4.5 million mentions of the game across social media between 4th - 10th July and discovered that the weekend in this period saw more than a million mentions of the game each day, with #PokémonGo making 5,982,616,734 impressions. Brandwatch also notes that this global response included places where the game has not yet been officially released.
Furthermore, according to the BBC, in its first week Pokémon Go generated 15.3 million tweets worldwide - notably more than the 11.7 million Brexit generated during the week of the EU referendum.
According to research firm Sensor Tower, the average iPhone user spends 33 minutes and 25 seconds a day on Pokémon Go, which is greater than Facebook (22 minutes), Snapchat (18 minutes), Twitter (17 minutes and 56 seconds) and Instagram (15 minutes).
The Pokémon Go hype is clearly showing no signs of dying down any time soon and there are definitely lessons that marketers can garner from all of this. For instance, reports have shown that US retailers 'have capitalised on their status as points of interest and signposted nearby Pokémon, resulting in greater footfall'. McDonald's may even sponsor the game, potentially allowing all its branches to feature as Pokémon stops. Conversely, there are reportedly no signs of a partnership in the UK.
Pokémon Go can be seen as a reminder that the industry has not yet realised the full potential of location-based apps. Theo Theodorou, location marketing firm xAd's Managing Director, has stated that such apps (including Uber and Tinder) have become a major part of people's daily lives, to the extent that "we [now] understand how fundamental location is to enable the delivery of an experience that's valuable".
Using gamification to boost engagement
Mobile gaming is huge. We have seen companies like Candy Crush spending billions of dollars over the years, and the global games market has grown from $91.8bn in 2015 to a total of $118.6bn by 2019, according to Ukie.
One of the advantages is that gamification can appeal to all ages if executed properly, as seen with Pokémon Go. Email marketing and social media marketing are becoming incredibly one dimensional, as game makers know more and more how to make people come back and either unlock the next level (Candy Crush) or hunt for more Pokémons.
In an interview with The Rolling Stone, Aaron Loeb, President of worldwide studios and live services at Kabam, the publisher of mobile hits such as Marvel Contest of Champions and Star Wars Uprising, said
"it's the biggest viral phenomenon we've seen in some time – really, the biggest ever in mobile. What's particularly delightful about it is that it's so specific to mobile. It requires mobility, GPS, the camera. It's a novel way to use technology you've gotten used to on your phone, like maps and the camera. It takes this technology that has now become mundane to us and makes it magical again."
McDonald’s is another, yet different, success story as they used the classic Monopoly game to increase their product sales. Interestingly, this is an entirely offline activity which gave consumer’s tickets representing a space on the board game every time they bought certain products. McDonald’s registered an increase in sales by 5.6% in the USA in 2010 with high numbers of people engaging on impulse to buy their products to get Monopoly tickets.
As for Pokémon Go, we can’t predict how soon someone will be able to replicate such success, developers will need to be very creative to get into this space.
At Consider this, we believe that this is the future and a snippet of how the next five to 10 years will be. The success of AR apps like Pokémon Go and Snapchat shows how progressive technologies are crucial to engage and entertain customers – a real opportunity for businesses.
Get the latest from Consider This UK
Sign up to our Arts marketing, communication & design digest and get your dose of Marketing, PR and social media news delivered straight to your inbox.