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What Pokémon GO means for content marketers

Unless you’ve been sitting under an Onix the past few days you’ve probably heard of (or played with) the new Pokémon GO app, which reached No. 1 on the download charts only hours after going live July 6.

It’s not technically available in many countries (including Canada) yet, but that hasn’t stopped eager gamers from downloading the app by creating new iTunes accounts or sideloading software, just for the chance to catch ‘em all.

Next to this record-breaking launch have come numerous blogs and reports of how businesses can take advantage of the millions of people now wandering the streets in search of invisible creatures that are only visible through their mobile screens. Tips on how Pokemon Go can lure more customers to your local business are popping up more than a Squirtle at a water park.

As a content marketer, there are two exciting possibilities that could emerge from uptake on this app, outside of simply promoting businesses as Pokéstops.

The first is a whole slew of new consumer behaviour tracking and geo-targeting options resulting from an app based strongly on GPS technology. We’re not sure how or when Niantic will release this data, or even if it will at all, but it’s out there somewhere. Integrating these location and psychographic-based data into digital campaign programming would offer marketers new audience sets for promoting everything from phone chargers to electric cars. Combining these ads with interesting and location-specific content would only serve to further increase user interest and the potential for conversions.

The second, more intriguing possibility is the use and mass-appeal of GPS-layered, augmented reality (AR) apps.

AR has been around for a while in the marketing world, but it’s never really caught on with consumers. Seen as more of a novelty, there’s been a lag between the potential opportunities of the technology and its implementation.

In most cases, AR‘s use in marketing has been limited to layering ‘interactive’ digital content within a print execution, which readers can view through a mobile device. These programs have been buggy and offered users less-than-ideal experiences.

It’s the combination of AR and GPS technology that has really let Pokémon and similar apps shine. Yelp’s Monocle Easter Egg displays business information as a real-time overlay on your mobile screen, but it was never highly promoted and it is limited in functionality.

However, given the right idea and a crack development team, GPS-based AR apps can be a boon for brands interested in creating engaging content. From users engaging in an historical city walk sponsored by a travel company, to a car brand sponsoring an urban AR scavenger hunt, the possibilities are only limited by marketers’ imaginations and the public’s comfort with the technology.

So as you pass GO players on the streets over the next few days, weeks and months, don’t just think of them as searching for new creatures to add to their Pokédex; they’re also becoming more familiar and receptive to a technology that offers marketers new ways to engage with potential content consumers in ways we’ve only dreamed of until now.


Michael Rajzman is a digital strategist for Globe Edge, The Globe and Mail’s content studio. He can be reached @mrajzman

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