Why Pokemon Go Was The Biggest Local Story in 2016

What have been local game changers? My short list includes the rise of MapQuest; Craigslist; Google Local search; Yelp reviews; Small Business Saturday; and Groupon. This year’s candidate would be Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game from a founder of Google Maps that “lures” consumers to local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and parks in search of virtual characters on their phones. I like what Gib Olander calls it: “prompted search.”

Pokemon Go has probably peaked at this point, after driving 10 million worldwide users a week this summer. Twelve percent of all active smartphones — especially those owned by 21-27 year old men — have had the game installed on it. It was also very low cost: the typical cost for small stores to invest in a “Pokecoin” that would help lure dozens of people to the location was $100, which averages out to around $1.19 an hour for the 84 hours of a typical location’s effective usage.

We don’t think meaningful revenue was driven from SMBs in the first go-round. The locations were pre-determined. But sponsored locations are part of the game’s next iteration. Obviously, this is where the potential lies for Pokemon Go and other games — along with new promotions and directories.

Expanding on this further: the reason we’re so intrigued by Pokemon Go’s potential for local is that it suggests a new “gamification” path that — for some things — can take the place of straightforward media and directories. Indeed, it combines an augmented reality-like tech that we first used several years ago placing coupons on maps (mapvertising), directories and videogames.

One thought on “Why Pokemon Go Was The Biggest Local Story in 2016

  1. Aptly written, Peter. The rave was everywhere. In my opinion, Pokemon Go unified the world in more ways that international diplomats could. I’m crazy about Pokemon & always in search of Pokemon coins. Lucky I got 14,500 coins here goo.gl/nJKUT0

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