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Augmented Reality and Sponsored Location-Based Marketing

  • Alyx 

We talk a lot about location-based marketing on our blog, generally in the context of optimizing your location for findability on services like Google Maps. Maps aren’t new, but for many, the idea of optimizing locations for them is. Gaming isn’t new either, but augmented reality (AR) is – and where its applications intersect with gaming and location-based marketing is a new area for most.

When people think of AR-based gaming, the first thing to come to mind is Pokemon GO (and how it’s disrupted the way people think of addresses in GPS terms was something we covered here a couple years ago). Recently, Niantic, the makers of the game, settled a court case which presented issues of the game sending people to homes and other locations where a gaggle of gamers might not be welcome.

The logical next step? Finding a way to send those gamers where they ARE welcome. Today, Niantic announced an open beta for their Sponsored Locations program – in which small- to medium-sized businesses can drive foot traffic by making their location a useful point of interest in the game. Their announcement suggests the program will be a way to reach some valuable demographics:

Additional features include the opportunity to add a scheduled in-game event, as well as to announce promotions. (Sprint and Starbucks were the marquee partners when Niantic began experimenting with sponsored locations – their promotions over the years have included discounts, and even a Starbucks signature drink.)

We see many reasons an enhanced AR game experience can drive more traffic to a retail location. A few examples where we can see this being useful are:

  • Bars and restaurants will get more visitors who are looking for a location where they have an improved in-game experience while they spend time eating or drinking
  • Retail stores may get business over a competitor due to customers who benefit when they or their kids can play as they shop
  • Service locations – e.g., oil changes or the like where you have a lot of idle time – gain an advantage over competitors by giving gamers a better experience

And, don’t forget to work this into your integrated marketing strategy. Some players will immediately notice the new stop or gym appearing in-game at your location, but appropriate signage, creative events, tie-in contests and other strategies can ensure you get the most advantage out of this initiative.

If you’re looking for more creative ways to bring more people into your location – or even if you still need to focus on the basics like location management and reviews – we’d love to chat. Or, if you have a sponsored Pokemon gym at your location, we’d be happy to drop in…