Pokémon Go set the location data and marketing communities ablaze over the summer, making headlines left and right as millions of users downloaded and started playing the game, handing over their mobile location data in the process.
The game got mobile application users out of their homes and into the streets, walking around to catch Pokémon and even strolling into local stores that acted as hubs of game activity called PokéStops or PokéGyms.
The prospect of all this foot traffic and location data generation has had some marketers salivating, but others have been more skeptical. To cut to the core of the story, Street Fight sat down recently with XPlenty CEO Yaniv Mor to get his take on how useful Pokémon Go data really is, and why the game has had tech media in a frenzy.
“It’s pretty difficult to get access to location data,” Mor said. That’s what makes Pokémon Go such a big story for location data companies and marketers. “There are quite a few companies today that are starting to provide products for smaller businesses that will help them take advantage of location data, but at this scale — hundreds of millions of users — that’s something that we haven’t seen yet.”
Furthermore, the data is crowdsourced, so it’s not just the territory of big brands. One of the most exciting aspects of the Pokémon Go story is that any business from a brand to a local mom-and-pop operation could potentially leverage the game’s data set, Mor said. This widespread accessibility could play into the far-reaching interest the app has spawned.
Still, the big question remains: Big brand or single-location operation, what exactly can a business do with Pokémon Go data, and how can it be leveraged most effectively?
The first factor to consider is a business’ proximity to a PokéStop or PokéGym, physical locations where the game’s users can interact and access special features. These areas are hotbeds of game-driven foot traffic, so the fortune of having one nearby can make all the difference in just how meaningful Pokémon Go is for a given company.
Businesses can best take advantage of a nearby PokéStop or PokéGym by using social media to advertise that fact, Mor said. Millennials, especially, seeing as they are more attuned to both social media and mobile gaming apps than other generations of users, could be drawn in by a strong social media campaign.
Another variable more within the control of a business is how location data is visualized and integrated with other data sources. “If you can get access to Pokémon Go data, you want to use it in connection with other data sources,” such as transaction history, Mor said.
For example, a particularly effective location data strategy might target Pokémon Go users who have also visited a business, as that combination of business engagement and location proximity makes for a more likely purchase than targeting every Pokémon Go user who happens to pass by.
Location data visualization and mapping technology are also in play here. The need for an effective way to visualize and draw insights from location data has given rise to a whole industry of location-based marketing apps, and they could have a role to play in helping business to leverage location data collected from gamers.
Beyond the limiting factors of visualization and integration techniques, Pokémon Go data could also lead marketers astray because it is not necessarily reflective of people’s normal movement patterns, Mor said. In other words, marketers should keep in mind that the way a consumer walks around from store to store while chasing Pokémon may not correspond exactly to the consumer’s shopping tendencies when not tied to the game.
Rather than focusing solely on Pokémon Go, marketers can establish patterns of behavior by examining Pokémon Go’s location data alongside more traditional location data like that collected by Telco companies, Mor said.
As for the future of Pokémon Go and games like it, the Niantic game itself “is a fad,” Mor said. As data indicates, the number of active users sticking with the game has already declined since its peak, and the sort of astronomical interest the app drew at its inception was unlikely to be maintained.
Regardless of Pokémon Go’s life span atop the mobile gaming world, games like it are likely to surface in the future. As far as “location-based games and augmented reality and virtual reality” are concerned, “we are only seeing the first stage of probably a very big phenomenon in the coming years,” Mor said. “We will definitely see more games like that.”
Also unlikely to change is the trend Pokémon Go has illuminated concerning consumers’ attitudes toward privacy.
“It exemplifies the trend of zero privacy in this day and age,” Mor said. People are becoming more comfortable with “sharing the data about where they are every second of the day,” and location-based marketers stand to gain a great deal.
Joseph Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor.