Now that Pokémon Go has become one of the most viral applications of all time, passed Twitter in daily users, reached over 7.5 million downloads, and went live in over 2 continents, it will now soon include advertising. Yes, the app that adults and children alike have loved is selling out. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said, “sponsored locations” is a new feature that they are looking into to provide an entirely new revenue stream, is addition to adding in-app purchases, such as power-ups and virtual items. This way, retailers and companies across the nation will have a paid opportunity to be featured prominently on the game’s virtual map. The companies are hoping to drive customers into their facilities.
According to the Financial Times, the network of virtual “portals” that are mapped to on-street locations will be similar to the ones that are on Ingress, Niantic’s previous game. Brands that pay to create sponsored content within Ingress include Duane Reade, Jamba Juice, and Zipcar. In Japan, where Ingress is most popular, convenience store chain Lawson and Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank also bought similar in-game promotions. Advertisers will be charged similarly to push ads, on a “cost per visit” basis, said Hanke.
Some retailers within the United States have already found that being featured in the game can drive hundreds of real customers into their stores. “The amount of people has been astonishing,” Tom Lattanzio, the owner of L’Inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City, Queens, told The New York Post yesterday. The Financial Times has reported that the Queens pizza stable has seen business increase by 75 percent after buying a $10 in-game power-up that lured Pokémon into its restaurant.
More businesses and organizations have already tried to bring visitors in by emphasizing the number of Pokestops around their buildings. The Art Institute of Chicago, for example, invited everyone to “Catch them if you can” in a tweet. And the fact that Pokémon Go’s users spend more time on the app than they do any other app, gives more incentive for businesses to switch over and start advertising with Niantic.