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All GO for Pokémon and AR

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We look at what it means for businesses and marketing, as JJers give their views on the app that’s taking the world by storm and our businesses by surprise.

What Pokémon has done for augmented reality


Augmented reality is about to become more mainstream and we can expect that many apps and games will want to replicate this experience.
Bethany Lucas,
Account Executive

Bethany Lucas, Account Executive

As far as I am aware, there hasn’t really been any advertising for Pokémon GO. Its global popularity is thanks to – A. the popularity of Pokémon – and – B. its unique use of augmented reality.

The game encourages a sense of community among those who are playing it. It also offers an alternative gaming experience that’s very different from sitting indoors with our eyes glued to a screen. It’s cliché to say but the game is really ‘brought to life’. Pokémon Go has set the bar for apps and games in the future; augmented reality is about to become more mainstream and we can expect that many apps and games will want to replicate this experience.

The question is – like many apps, will Pokémon GO have five minutes of fame or will it offer a unique enough experience to be a long-term commitment for gamers?

Ben Banfield, Account Executive

I think the key thing advertisers can take from this is that content and context are key for augmented reality. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of apps/brands try and make use of AR, with little real success. In theory, the concept is great for bringing content to life, but it’s always relied on a 3rd party app, a la Blippar, to work, which is a barrier to a lot of people. So many people are unaware of its existence and as not everything is Blippable, it’s actual use is limited. While the content that has been created for it is often good, it’s never been enough to really encourage people to download Blippar and start using it – it’s a cool gimmick.

GO really gives a reason to want to use AR. It employs a brand that evokes fun, nostalgia (especially from the 20-30 age bracket who are the most smartphone savvy/largest user group) and one that encourages to you to collect, meaning you keep wanting to use it. Content gets a big tick – even if it relies more on the brand than the actual game, which is arguably poor. The fact that people want to share their experience is testament to that, and obviously helps drum up more interest. When I was 10, I certainly wanted to be a Pokémon trainer, and this is the closest thing to that – of course I’m going to give it a go.

I think the key thing advertisers can take from this is that content and context are key for augmented reality.
Ben Banfield,
Account Executive

Go is available universally, can be played nearly anywhere and is therefore highly accessible – as long as you have a smartphone. The difference with Blippar is that you don’t need to scan anything.

If it hadn’t been Pokémon but another brand that was attractive to current kids but not others, it’s unlikely it would have got the same reception, at least initially and so quickly. Only something like Pokémon (or maybe Lego) has that draw factor to such a wide audience.

What advertisers can take away from all of this: Content is really important to draw audiences to using AR. Showing a 3D model car in AR sadly isn’t really enough I don’t think – it needs to do more.

Context and accessibility are equally important. There can’t be any major barriers, which the current crop of AR apps all have. Our experience at JJ of using AR is that we had it set-up ready to use at a trade fair which meant we removed that initial barrier and allowed people to start accessing that content straight away.

Toby Shelley, Account Executive

I think that advertisers will be able to use Pokémon Go (and other AR games) in a really effective way. It’s a bit like product placement in real life, as sponsors can effectively place virtual billboards around the town and in a way that is really targeted and driven by data. This is especially big for Pokémon Go considering how fanatical its fans can be, with reports of “trainers” driving around the country to get ahead of the competition.

I think it’s a great opportunity for advertisers. Recently, we looked into geo-targeted advertisements for one of our clients. It gave us the potential to use GPS to locate the user, and then direct them to a certain location and it was able to provide them a whole lot of information about that area and who they could talk to, which made it really personalised. Research has shown that click through rates increase substantially for geo-targeted banners and in some instances double the performance of normal marketing so can have a huge impact on campaigns.

In this instance, Pokémon GO could very easily tie in with geo-targeted adverts and partnerships with local businesses. For instance, if a local shop then became a Pokémon Gym or a Pokéstop, they could simply capitalise on the excess business in the area, and if they invested in the geo-targeted banners they could send a personalised offer to the Pokémon GO user when they’re there. I think personalisation is such a key element to a good campaign as it makes it a lot more relevant, not to mention Behavioural Economics suggests that we’re less likely to do something if it involves effort, and this removes the effort of having to go and find the offer yourself!

Nintendo has shaken the world like a rowdy and tunnelling Onyx and kudos to it. After arriving late to the smartphone party, the brand has gone full Gyarados with Pokémon GO pushing share prices up 70% and honing in on Twitter’s app download figures.

It’s a bit like product placement in real life, as sponsors can effectively place virtual billboards around the town
Toby Shelley,
Account Executive

Some may think it Farfetch’d but the app is benefitting real-world business, with restaurants and cafés setting off in-game beacons to Seel up to a 75% increase in sales – Nintendo is now planning to Exeggcute the systematic monetisation of Pokétown with pay-per-visit advertising, which will see property hit a lofty premium.

The existence and eventual norm of advertising within augmented reality (though Prof. Ken Perlin would rather you know GO is really just “location-based entertainment“) will now Beedrilled into the public mind, establishing new canvases for businesses to Muk about on.

The ability to lay content across augmented space may render our reality an endless billboard – it is a new frontier for advertisers, which is exciting but also Oddish.

As our JJers have already proven, the new app opens up a multitude of opportunities for both small businesses and large corporations. T-Mobile is already jumping on the wagon by offering the incentive of free data for its customers playing on Pokémon GO, and that’s just one example of many.

As with all viral content, if a business or brand wants to profit they must act quickly, but what is interesting about Pokémon GO is that it’s not just the phenomenon that’s disrupting business plans, but the potential it offers for AR.

It doesn’t take a fortune teller to guess that Nintendo certainly won’t be the last to use the technology effectively, but is it also teaching us a better way to use new technology? Instead of acting in haste, Nintendo has waited until it had a real purpose for AR and one that it believed would be ‘popular’ and successful.

Share your thoughts on the game and augmented reality with us on Twitter.

There’s a Pokemon in the barn! Gotta catch ’em all! #PokemonGO #JJ

A photo posted by JJ Marketing (@we_are_jj) on

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