Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Pokémon GO: Every Marketer’s Data Driven Dream

Pokémon GO, released earlier this July, was an immediate hit. Niantic, Inc., a spinoff of Google, partnered with Nintendo to develop the massively popular, augmented reality game. Demand for the app crashed servers around the world and has marketing communities spinning as they figure out how to incorporate Pokémon GO into their brands.

Davis® consultants weigh in below:

Haley L. Snyder, Senior Associate, Research

Death, tracking and taxes: any millennial that is not wise to our complete lack of privacy is fooling herself. And yet, we continue to prefer (false) ignorance to awareness, shrugging it off because the man knows all. Millennials are a part of the machine, whether we like it or not. It was recently discovered that Nintendo’s Pokémon GO app is especially intrusive into our digital lives. The terms of service provide Niantic, Nintendo’s Pokémon GO partner, the legal right to read, delete and send emails from players’ Gmail accounts. This should have been a tipping point that incited outrage — but nah, not so much. This is our generation’s cultural shift — nothing is sacred. We share cars and ETA’s, locations and intimate photos, and even the contents of our bank accounts. We have relinquished control of everything personal and private. The cultural shift was casual. And the Pokémon are worth it.

Pokémon GO tapped into Millennial’s lust for nostalgia at the height of its popularity. It gave generation hermit, who only explores their world digitally, a reason to go outside and interact in a low-pressure way, allowing all participants the opportunity to relate on the same level, regardless of gender, haircut, body type or background. In an ever more confusing and divided world, here we are, leaving our homes, exploring new places, meeting new people and searching for something a little more than the comforting, cute creatures that lead us out there in the first place.

Michael G. Phelan, Associate, Brand

The $14 billion leap in Nintendo’s stock price over the past two weeks might seem monumental, but this jump in price is only the beginning. Nintendo was a power player in the past, but the value of the brand (and its stock price) has not made much of a recovery from the damage done during the recession. Enter Pokémon GO.

Nintendo’s upward momentum will undoubtedly continue once they officially open up the platform to developers. Nintendo and Niantic will take Pokémon GO on a similar route that we have seen behemoths like Snapchat and Facebook navigate. The game will continue to ride the initial nostalgia-fueled buzz, and then slowly implement sponsorship into the game.

The truly beautiful thing about Pokémon GO is the action-based element that forces players to interact with the AR world IRL. Last week, a stampede ensued in Central Park after a wild Vaporean appeared. Now imagine a rare, sponsored Pokémon appearing inside a newly opened Target location. People would show up in mobs. Nintendo has a map of every physical business location in the world, all with sponsorship potential. No other platform has the ability to gather that many people, that quickly into a specific location. Considering a branded Snapchat filter initially cost $750,000 per day, marketers should expect to fork over huge sums of money to get a piece of the Pokémon GO action.

Nintendo has officially made itself relevant again to the tech world, but is now faced with a new brand identity dilemma: is Nintendo a gaming company, or a social network?

Katarina Vermann, Director, Research

Pokémon GO brilliantly bridges physical and virtual reality by leveraging nostalgia, all while providing a unique way to collect data on the enormous user base. Because this game suddenly appeared, it created a shock to businesses traditionally reliant on foot traffic (e.g., brick-and-mortar retail, museums), providing a natural experiment for marketers to understand behavior-changing incentives. The platform also gives them a unique opportunity to re-engage new audiences. Pokémon GO took gamification-based customer research experiments to the next level. Hopefully some of the unforeseen circumstances, like people walking off of cliffs, are reined in before Mario Kart GO is released.

Monica R. Tulley, Director, Business Operations

Pokémon GO is the next step in the evolution of social media and online gaming platforms. Melding the two creates direct, in-person interactions between players and businesses, providing a role-playing adventure in a social atmosphere. Nintendo and Niantic have developed a new, endlessly marketable medium for brands.

In the near future, social media platforms will be integrated with location-based, augmented reality. Person-to-person and B2C interactions will be tracked and analyzed in real time with limitless data mining potential. Pokémon GO is the first app to successfully gamify a location-based, AR platform. Murmurs of sponsored locations within the game are being heard within marketing circles. McDonald’s is already reportedly onboard as a sponsor, with other established brands expected to follow suite.


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