Can Small Businesses Benefit from the “Pokemon Go” Craze?
Last week Nintendo debuted a new mobile game featuring their beloved Pokemon franchise entitled Pokemon Go. As you’ve probably heard by now, the game sends players out into the real world to capture Pokemon creatures, train them, and even battle with other players. Since its launch, the game has become a full-blown phenomenon, surpassing Twitter in U.S. daily active users by some estimates and bringing in tons of cash for Nintendo and developer Niantic. Additionally the news has been flooded both with heartwarming stories of people coming together over the game as well as tales of people walking off cliffs, getting hit by cars, or being mugged while playing.
With all that, it’s obvious that Pokemon Go presents an opportunity to make someone money, but how can small businesses get in on the action? In the opinion of Adam Dorfman of Marketing Land, it’s only a matter of time before local businesses can truly take advantage of the Poke-craze (and, no, that doesn’t mean becoming a Pokemon tour guide). However that all depends on how Niantic and Nintendo choose to monetize their creation.
As it stands now a few businesses have been lucky enough to find that their store is the site of a Pokestop (where gamers can obtain free supplies) or gyms (where Pokemon can train and battle) that have lured in new customers. Now, according to TechCrunch, many more businesses will be able to enjoy this perk as Niantic is set to introduce sponsored locations into the game. The company’s CEO, John Hanke, says that these sponsorships would be charged on a “cost per visit” basis akin to the traditional “cost per click” that digital marketers go by. Meanwhile Gizmodo reports that McDonald’s could be one of the game’s first partners in a promotion that would turn the fast food chain’s locations into Pokemon gyms.
This could be a great start but Dorman sees even bigger marketing potential in Pokemon Go. After all getting gamers in the door is one thing but getting them to buy is quite another (as evidenced by some signs that have been popping up). One suggestion he has is that the game introduce the ability for gamers to capture mobile wallet offers from businesses while on their quests for more creatures. As he points out, the beauty of such a promotion is that it’s not overly intrusive and still allows players to enjoy the game without feeling inundated with ads. That could be an important detail down the road as Nintendo and Niantic will need to strike a balance between advertising and gaming in order to retain players.
At this point it may be too early to say exactly how entrepreneurs will be able to market their small businesses using Pokemon Go and reach the game’s highly-engaged audience, but that could change quickly. In the past week since the game’s release Niantic has already addressed security concerns about permissions it was getting from Google as well as announce their plans for sponsored locations. This shows that Nintendo and Niantic are moving at breakneck speed in order to take full advantage of their runaway hit. As a result it would behoove businesses of all sizes to take notice and keep a close eye on what comes next with Pokemon Go.