How Will Pokémon Go Use All that Data They’re Collecting?


Business owners that use targeted display depend on data to make their ads effective, using what they learn from our internet and smartphone activity to serve us ads that are relevant to our interests.

And for the most part, we are fans of this technology. A survey from Bizrate insights revealed that an overwhelming majority – 85% – of consumers have a positive or neutral outlook on targeted display ads.

We like our little conveniences, so when an app asks for permission to use our location or a website tracks our search history, we don’t think too much about it.

Along comes Pokémon Go, the first AR (Augmented Reality) app to really make a splash. My sixteen-year-old son has always been a fan of Pokémon, and is a bit of a screen/video game junkie, so I wasn’t a bit surprised to see him caught up in this new trend.

The first day he played, he got 27,000 steps on his fitness tracker, and admitted that he had seen and talked to more friends in person than he had since summer vacation started. So like a lot of parents, I was a fan. A game that got him out into the world, exercising, seeing and making new friends – sign me up.

In fact, that’s what I did. I signed up and started playing. By the way, I am not a Pokémon fan and believe it or not, I never play games on my phone. (I had to cut myself off after a three-hour Angry Birds binger a couple of years ago.) But I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit that when I installed it and it asked for permission to access my data, I didn’t even read what it asked for. I figured that it was just like all the other apps on my phone that needed my location and maybe access to my camera. No big deal. I clicked “I AGREE” faster than a Rapidash. (I’m told that’s a speed Pokémon.)

By now, you’ve probably read all the news about how the app’s permission requests go too far. This article talks about the security risks, suggesting that the app is a conspiracy and that you should get a second phone if you really want to play.

I don’t know if I buy that. But it did get me to look further into what permissions the app is really asking for. This article outlines how expansive the permissions are for Pokémon Go, and convinced me to delete it from my phone.

With one of the most successful launches in app history, the makers of Pokémon Go are collecting a ton of data. [Pokémon Go more Popular than Twitter, Tinder] So, what are they going to do with it?

More than likely, they’re going to use the data they collect, just like a lot of others do – to sell advertising. With Nintendo’s Wii and their new console, the NX, coming out soon, they’ll be able to use the data they gather from Pokémon Go to deliver highly targeted ads based on more “digital breadcrumbs” than ever. So all this fuss over security may be for nothing.

On one hand, I’m excited about an app that gets my kids eager to go outside and interact with others. I’m excited about what AR means for digital advertising. I think it’s pretty cool. As an early adopter of technology, I want to see the best in it. My mind immediately starts thinking of all the ways local businesses can benefit from this hot new trend and how other apps can leverage augmented reality. Read more about that here.

As for all that data being collected by Pokémon Go, it’s likely that it won’t be used for some sinister plot, but rather to put more targeted advertising in front its many users. Will most people delete it when they find out about the permission request? As my son said when I told him all of this, “Who cares if they have access to my phone? I have nothing to hide anyway.”