The Power of Pokémon GO

Love it or hate it, it looks like Pokémon GO‘s here to stay. The augmented reality game has become a viral sensation – dominating social media conversations, surpassing Twitter in daily users and sending Nintendo stock through the roof (at the cool tune of about $7 billion).

It’s also providing increased exposure to some businesses, which are listed as Gyms or Pokestops on the game’s mapping features, granting them an opportunity to convert the extra foot traffic into potential sales. 

If you’re a business owner, it’d definitely behoove you to download the app; even if just to check in and see if your physical location has been listed as a Gym or Pokestop. If it has, embrace it: throw a sign in the window or a clever sandwich board out front. Players will appreciate that, rather than turning them away, you’ve invited them into your establishment. This sense of appreciation goes a long way in helping a visitor to feel like a valued customer, potential or otherwise.

If your business is not currently listed as a gaming location, don’t fret. The game’s developer, a software company called Niantic, announced today that businesses will soon be able to pay a fee to be included as a “sponsored” location. By paying to be included on the map, your location could not only lure rare Pokémon and additional gaming features, but lure dozens, if not hundreds, of eager gamers to your doorstep. Imagine a coffee shop or bar moving some marketing dollars away from television commercials and other media to free up investment opportunites with Pokémon GO. Instead of having the occasional new walk-in, there’s the potential to fill seats with countless people sipping lattes, drinking beers and catching Pikachu. Pretty nifty, right?

But, as gamer Jason Evangelho explains, in addition to inviting more people to a particular business or public area, these sponsored locations could also result in opportunities for collaboration and increase the gaming experience altogether:

Local establishments that aren’t currently listed in the game as Gyms or Pokestops could potentially be added — and this is crucial right now for the player base and the sustainability of the game in rural areas where these locations are sorely lacking. It could also mean the chance for retail stores to partner up with Niantic to get volume discounts on “Lure Modules” (which attract both players and Pokemon to your location) or other promotional activities based on events, time of day, the weather, or even relevant to the type of product the store is serving up.

Basically, the game’s developers have recognized the rollout of sponsored locations as an opportunity for an additional revenue stream, and that working with the business community should result in a win/win scenario – for the game’s players, for local establishments, for Niantic, for everyone.

As with most things, it’s easy to say that the game’s a fad. That it’ll be replaced in the next few weeks with another craze. Personally, I don’t think so. I can’t even check my email while walking down the street or pop over to the park on a lunch break without someone asking if, “I saw that Rattata.”

In every way imaginable, Pokémon GO is a social and cultural phenomenon. It’s achieved more milestones in a week than Facebook did in three years. It’s wiped virtual reality, something that was being lauded not more than two months ago as the next tech boom, completely off the map. It’s teaching us things about the future of media that we never could have imagined for ourselves.

The power of Pokémon GO is real. We don’t all have to play it, but should all pay attention to it – especially those of us in the marketing and business worlds.