Pokémon Go is Hot, But Augmented Reality is The Big Winner


Pokémon Go is hot. No one can deny that it has taken center stage in the world of all things digital.

And while conspiracy theorist are shouting about the security risks, and criminals are taking advantage of naïve players, there are some very cool things that have come to light.

As a digital advertiser, my first thought was, “Pokémon? Seriously?”

But my second thought was, “Pretty cool how this app got my son to go outside and get some exercise.”

And then my third thought was, “Local Businesses can take advantage of this trend big time!”

Maybe you’ve already read what Pokémon Go means for location-based marketers. Maybe you’ve even seen businesses leveraging Pokémon Go on social media like this restaurant who sponsored a Lure Module to drive in-store visits.


There’s simply no denying that this is the beginning of something big. On one hand, you could argue that the Pokémon brand is responsible for the app’s success. You could point out that it’s sister app, Ingress, which shares a lot of the same features, isn’t nearly the hit. Nor are most apps that use AR (augmented reality).

Pokémon’s popularity aside, we’re likely looking at a surge in the popularity of the technology itself. Riku Suomela of Nokia Research seems to think so, saying, “I have been thinking Pokémon Go could be the product that creates the market for augmented and mixed-reality gaming, and I am optimistic this is happening now.”

I agree. I believe that apps and games are going to use AR in very cool ways, but more than that, it’s going to open up a whole new world of digital advertising.

While Om Malik, an author for The New Yorker, shares how he wants to lift his phone up to a painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in order to get more information about the art, I think in different terms. I imagine holding my phone up as I walk through the cereal aisle at my local super market, and how I expect to see a virtual coupon for 25% off a box of Fruity Pebbles.

I imagine going to my local MLB stadium and collecting virtual coins or baseballs around the stadium, and how each of these virtual treasures is sponsored by a local business. I can almost imagine my little girl saying, “Daddy, we have to get the Salvador Perez virtual autographed baseball, courtesy of KC Chevrolet.” Okay, that part about her naming the sponsor may be a bit of stretch, but you get the picture.

Imagine a restaurant owner who wasn’t lucky enough to get real estate in the hottest neighborhood in the city. He’s just a little off the beaten path and if people knew to walk just a half a block more, his business would be packed. What if he could place virtual signs up in front of his competitor’s locations, proclaiming the virtues of his award winning BBQ or displaying a buy-one-get-one-free deal? Would you consider following some virtual arrows, or maybe something more fun, like a string of blue gems, right to his front door?

How about a lawn guy who is extremely proud of that beautiful green lawn that he mows and fertilizes? Or the painter or roofer who did work on one of the nicest homes in the neighborhood? We’ve all seen those yard signs they place while they’re there doing the work. They last for what, a day, maybe two, before the owner is tired of advertising for them and trashes their sign? What if they could place a virtual sign in the yard, so that anyone employing an AR app while walking their dog or jogging through the neighborhood might see it?

And it’s not just discounts and branding that could be placed on/in businesses in this world of augmented reality. What if GE could post all those wonderful five star reviews they earned while you are comparing new refrigerators? Might that persuade you to buy?

There’s no question that Pokémon Go is a hit. But the real winner is augmented reality. For local businesses specifically, the possibilities are endless. It’s an exciting time to be in digital advertising.