If you own a small business surrounded by competition, you know the importance of increasing your digital footprint. Whether that means managing multiple social media platforms, running digital ad campaigns, or even building your own rewards app. Small businesses are always looking for unique new ways to bring traffic to their locations. Recently the popular augmented reality game from Niantic, Pokemon Go, announced that they are offering a new marketing opportunity for small businesses.
What Is Pokemon Go & Are People Still Playing It?
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game created by Niantic. “Augmented Reality” refers to the fact that the game requires players to play the game in real life. The game tracks a player’s location, and in order to play the game, they will need to visit hot spots marked on their in-game map. This game saw it’s peak popularity after it’s launch in the summer of 2016. Although the initial buzz died down after a year, Pokemon Go continues to be one of the most popular gaming apps on both iPhones and Andriod devices. More than 60 million players are still actively playing the game, and the app recently boasted it’s 800 millionth download. Part of the way Niantic continues to keep this game is by adding new requested features.
Pokemon Go’s New Small Business Feature
Prior to launch, Pokemon Go was sponsored by Sprint and Starbucks. All registered locations of both brands were added to the in-game map as hot spots for players to visit. Recently, Niantic announced that future versions of the game will finally include user-submitted hot spots. This has been a feature that has been petitioned for constantly over the last two years. Initially, Niantic created the in-game map without user submission and has been slowly removing hot spots due to legal issues. Finally, to combat lost hot spots, players can apply to create new locations and after an approval period it will show up on the map. But this update isn’t just for players, small businesses can now apply for “sponsored locations”.
Pokemon Go’s Sponsored Locations
Niantic is offering this feature in two package deals. For 1 dollar per day, a business will become a “Pokestop”. This in-game location will feature a name, photo, and description that can be altered or updated monthly. For 2 dollars per day, a business will become a “gym”. Similarly, the business will have their name, logo, and description featured. The description and photo can even include special promotional materials that the business would like to run. The reason for the difference in pricing is based on the in-game differences between stops and gyms.
- PokeStops: A stop simply provides a player with in-game resources (sponsored stops provide extra resources, higher quality resources, and specialized in-game tasks.
- Gyms: A gym is a place where players spend much more time. All players are part of 1 of 3 teams. At a gym, players can battle for their team or cooperatively battle in a “raid” which allows them to unlock a rare Pokemon. Without going into the greater details, stops are often passed by whereas gyms are place players will spend 5 to 10 minutes.
Is Pokemon Go’s New Marketing Opportunity Worth The Investment?
So, should your business advertise on Pokemon Go? Well, first you should consider location, userbase, and conversion rate. Pokemon Go’s new feature is unlikely to supplant the efficacy of Google Ads or social media ads. But, in areas that have large populations or small populations, it may be helpful to get your business registered as a sponsored location. Whether you choose the standard or premium package, if used well, you may find more customers in or around your shop.
- Location: By far the best areas to be if you intend to pay for Pokemon Go’s sponsored location feature are cities or suburban areas. Suburban areas have often struggled in-game for not having enough hot spots. The lack of hot spots will mean that local players will be more likely to visit your location. Meanwhile, although cities are full of hot spots, they also are full of players. Creating a sponsored location could increase your visibility. It is also important to note that Pokemon Go isn’t a listing site with an algorithm. All stops are equal to each other and all gyms are equal to each other.
- Userbase: Pokemon Go’s demographics trend to a younger population. It is also important to note that a side effect of having a sponsored location means you may see more teens and young adults around your business. When the game started; churches, historical monuments, and museums petitioned to be removed because of the influx of young people loitering around their property.
- Conversion Rate: Just because more people are near your location it does not mean they will all be paying customers. The game features a 70-meter radius; so someone could benefit from a sponsored location without needing to go into the business. The ideal business for this update is a restaurant, retail location, or other small business that has room for customers to stand around outside. Being creative with your logo, name, and description could encourage more conversions. Both Starbucks and Sprint started by offering a special “PoGo Deal” for players.
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