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.