How advertisers can jump on the Pokémon craze

July 18, 2016 | Share this article

You’re either totally sick of Pokémon GO at this point, or you’re planning out how to catch a Charizard. The augmented reality (AR) game has become a phenomenon in less than two weeks, more popular than Twitter and more engaging than Facebook. You either love it or hate it, and if you’re an advertiser, most likely you love it. The game offers several chances for hopping into the action and luring people to your location to catch Pokémon. Media people have suddenly become Pokémon advisors, and many admit it’s a fun change of direction, as well as a great stride forward for AR, which has held promise for years but never fully delivered. Adam Simon, Director of Strategy for The IPG Media Lab, talks to Media Life about advertising through Pokémon, the appeal of AR, and why Google Glass was no Pokémon.

AR has been around for some time. Why do you think it’s taken off now? Is it due to the Pokémon name/brand recognition?

There are a couple of things about the AR angle. The AR feature isn’t actually core to the game play. When you go to capture the Pokémon, it overlays the character onto your live camera, but you can actually turn that function off. AR is partially responsible for the game’s success because it spreads so well on social media–people posting funny pictures, etc.

From a marketing angle it was super smart. I think a lot of reporting I’ve seen out there makes it seem like it’s all about AR, but it’s really not. You can make the argument that because the game uses maps and you have to walk around that’s kind of AR, but really AR is more about overlaying digital objects in the physical space.

As for the “why now,” it’s sort of a reboot of a game the developer already had called Ingress, but re-skinned with Pokémon branding. The older game had a complicated story, but because people already knew what Pokémon was, it definitely goes a long way.

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