Pokemon Go Brings Adventure to The Future Of Digital Marketing

Pokemon Go, the mobile game that’s taken the US by storm is garnering marketer’s attention, who are hoping to utilize the game’s massive popularity. Todd Garland, Founder and CEO, BuySellAds states that to understand the game’s true value, brands and marketers need to understand why it’s so popular

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the mobile game Pokemon Go has taken the US by storm. In its first week, it racked up over 10 million downloads on Android alone. The location-based game isn’t just garnering the attention of emphatic Pokemon fans; marketers are all looking at how they can utilize the game’s massive popularity to their brand’s advantage. By only focusing on leveraging the game, though, they’re missing out on the true value its fast rise offers. Brands and marketers should be taking a step back and looking at why it’s so popular.

The game is free to download, yet is able to generate $1.6 million in revenue a day just on iOS. What makes people want to spend money on something that they literally can enjoy for free? It’s the brand experience. Remember there have been Pokemon apps in the past that users panned. Tapping into Pokemon’s brand value alone doesn’t equal success, it’s the attention that the app developers paid to providing a premium experience to users. What users love even more than the brand itself is that this app enables them to be part of the brand experience. The game doesn’t just let you swipe your screen to catch Pokemon, it forces you to go and find them in the “real” world. When you allow people to immerse themselves in the brands they love, they’re willing to spend money to make that experience even deeper.

This is also reflected in the way users have been so willing to provide the app with customer data, a topic that has a sticky history with web users. As it stands now, you have to login, either with a gmail account or a “Pokemon Trainer” account, just to play the game. That means you can’t play without providing some kind of personal information, and yet people are still downloading the game in record numbers. The game’s developer, Niantic, came under fire for accessing too much customer data (they claimed to have fixed the issue), but it’s noteworthy that download rates didn’t suffer.

The big takeaway from this is that brand names mean little if the experience associated with them is bad. The ad blocking phenomenon further proves that. 80% of ad blockers do so because ads cause poor website usability. Countless industry experts say that the answer to ad blocking is ads that don’t hinder the browsing experience, but we should be going beyond that. We should look at the ad experience the way that Niantic looked at the app experience for Pokemon Go and create an immersive environment that customer actively want to be a part of.

Look at Red Bull. Is it even an energy drink company anymore, or is it an extreme media company? Red Bull saw the types of things its customers enjoyed, such as extreme sports and crazy internet videos, and started getting heard by customers through those experiences. They brought customers into their brand by making something them a part of something innovative and unique.

Digital marketers need to take this approach to heart when planning their campaigns. Your goal can’t be to simply get a customer’s attention. That’s not enough. Customers are bombarded with more promotional content than ever, and it’s resulting in content blindness. You need to give people something that they want to go long with.

Gamers — casual and fanatical — wouldn’t be walking into ponds if Pokemon Go didn’t incentivize them with a great experience. The same needs to go for marketing. Don’t advertise a brand; build a world based on that brand’s ideals. Don’t write a slogan; create an idea that people will want to explore with you. People don’t want to be sold something; they want to go on an adventure. That’s the real lesson of Pokemon Go. If you can deliver that, your marketing will know nothing but success.

This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor