Pokémon Go and All That

Facial recognition, smart mirrors, Pokémon Go – is your live event digitally optimised? MKTG’s Michael Brown explores what a new experiential agency should look like if it set up in business right now.

Digitally optimised experience

Last month we hosted a bit of a do at our place snappily entitled ‘Digitally Optimised Experiences’. The name held enough promise about it to suggest that some essential career-enhancing knowledge would be uncovered, and we attracted a stellar line up of both speakers and guests – thanks for coming!
Just in case you were otherwise engaged or your hair had an inescapable appointment with the shampoo, we were taking a look at what has been a kind of slow motion collision between the formerly analogue world of experiential marketing, and the digital asteroid that has knocked planet Experiential off its gravitational axis. A merger of sorts that has the potential to create a yet more dynamic, yet more personalised, yet more measurable and yet more scalable form of live marketing.
We had the joyful folk from Cadbury talking about using experiential to create brand content as a narrative arc for storytelling. They stressed that ensuring content is developed and optimised to the channels in which you tell the story is paramount, particularly with social, and for Digital Out of Home where you have the merest slither of a second to grab that much wanted attention, and no audio to help with that!
We also had those social shakers from Snapchat showing us how their filters are being used to add new dimensions of engagement to live experience.

Smart Mirror

Another highlight was Matt Gee, head of digital transformation at Isobar (currently digital agency of the year in 18 different markets). Matt demonstrated how facial recognition will be used with mobile to make secure purchases, and other variations of Internet of Things technology, that could break into the traditional weak points of a brand experience and improve upon it.  The examples on show forced us to think about experiential in an entirely different way – less of an immersive, linear experience created in a dedicated public space in which a stream of people rock up, take part, and roll out again, and rather as a medium that intervenes in short, sharp shocks in places where it is most relevant, and is closer to the point of purchase.
Particularly impressive was a smart mirror for fashion retail fitting rooms: Try something on, the colour does not quite suit or you need another size up. Tell the mirror and it shall be delivered to the changing room, rather than having to peak around a curtain in your pants and holler at an inattentive shop assistant. Like what you see, no need to go back out to join a queue to pay – purchase it with the mirror, order that it be delivered home and walk out free of carrier bags. With ideas like this you can see how a brand experience may enhance a whole day out, and not just the moments a customer spends with your particular brand. Such an approach will encourage hugely warm feelings in your target audience and may set you on the road to becoming a trusted brand with high loyalty scores.

Blueprint for a new agency

In many ways, our little event was a blueprint for what an experiential agency might look like if they were to set up in business right now, today, this minute!
The first instinct of a new agency might well be very different to the heritage agencies when crafting a campaign strategy. They might prioritise the conception of the digital experience at the ideation stage and then develop the blend between the digital experience and its physical manifestation in a live setting: what might be thought of as a ‘Phygital’ approach to doing things (Happily, the word was not my invention). Or it might simultaneously conceive of a campaign idea as a seamless entity in which your smart device acts as a portal to mesh the touchy-feely physical world with the digital, and so create a new and compelling enhanced experience.

Pokémon Go

Your correspondent was recently a visitor to world heritage site Stonehenge, where a significant portion of visitors where not as engaged with the sacred stones as perhaps English Heritage might like them to be. Instead, they were adding to their experience by playing Pokémon Go! Whether or not this is a good thing is a philosophical moot point, comparable to holding your phone up to film an entire gig without actually looking at the stage, and it is probably a generational argument.
Visibly, the people playing were totally engrossed in their engagement between two worlds – a kind of hyperspace between physical and digital, except this demographic may not recognise it in such terms. Jordan, a 20-year-old student visitor from Cirencester, told me he had come to Stonehenge specifically to play Pokémon Go. He saw no identifiable border between the real world of Stonehenge, and the digital world unlocked by his device, arguing that he was having a better visitor experience than those not playing.
This is entirely subjective of course, and it depends on the reasons people go to Stonehenge in the first place, but to him, visiting the site was merely selecting a new and dynamic game environment. In cynical terms, changing the wallpaper! Jordan’s attitude may have you fearing for the future of humanity or it may not, but in commercial terms, it is to this mindset that any agency in our sector, heritage or otherwise, may wish to shape their approach to doing business in order to stay in business.
Now over to two industry stalwarts to help me describe what a new experiential agency should look like if it set up in business right now.

Hugh Robertson, founder of RPM

The RPM of 1993 would have largely been judged against our competency to deliver an immersive event-based experience for a finite audience.
Today we are involved much earlier, at the strategic level as the ‘live’ element of the campaign may represent a significantly smaller part of the budget or sometimes not at all.  The advancement of technology and the proliferation of social media channels, enable our campaigns to be even more targeted and shared and enjoyed by a far greater audience in an even more compelling and relevant way. The world has actually moved in our favour and ‘experience’ is more important than ever.
However how and where people are having these experiences has changed, as has the context. I would advise any agency to continually look at what services you need to build to meet these emerging needs e.g. Retail, UX, Live, and just as importantly, what services you shouldn’t build, and instead work in a collaborative way with specialists such as tech companies.

Chris Dawson, founder of The Field and TED staffing

If I were to start up an agency today I would root it in the very same human to human paradigm that has always been the mainstay of the experiential sector.
We are a touchy feely empathetic bunch us humans! As such we need technology that enhances and deepens our humanity. I don’t think Pokémon Go is that at all and it remains to be seen what will become of that particular phenomenon, but one thing is for sure, the major tech successes of recent decades have been successful because they enable us to connect as humans – to share our human experience together, as opposed to something that is isolating. I
would always recommend that technology is used to help grease the wheels of experiences, but continue to plan your campaigns with the important caveat that if tech is used for its own sake, at the cost of genuine human benefit and experience, it becomes awkward and sub optimal.
We humans ultimately make our own minds up through a process of peer recommendation, which is now almost exclusively digital, leading to trial through experience of the product or service – the touchy feely bit. An agency that can plan and execute seamlessly through this process would be very unique in the market. It’s like everything in life, its ‘why’ and ‘how’ things are used that shape their benefit and ultimate success.
Michael Brown is managing director at MKTG.
Via: Event Magazine 

What Opportunities do Pokémon Go and Changing OOH Behaviour Create for Business?

You’ve probably already heard the global stats – Pokémon Go had more active daily users in its first week than Twitter and was grossing $6m+ per day from in-app sales.
It has revolutionised the mobile gaming industry, some say even created a new category (although Ingress users may have some ‘before it was cool’ claims on AR mobile gaming category). As an out-of-home media nerd, what blows my mind is the way that it has so overtly changed the real world behaviour of the millennial age group audience.
A few weekends ago, approximately 4,000 users gathered on the Sea Point promenade over a four – five hour period as part of an event that was planned for and by a Pokémon Go user group that had popped up of its own accord on Facebook. More are planned across the country in the coming weeks. This is all before the game has even been made available in the South African app stores, so you can expect that we haven’t even started to peak locally yet.
Obviously demographics for the SA user base are not readily available, but here is a great infographic from that gives you an idea of the age breakdown from a study of users in the US as seen in the image above.
I would expect our age profile in SA to be similar, but am yet to be convinced on the gender split.
Pokemon Go was specifically designed to get millennials up off the couch to explore the real world around them. All of the gameplay is built around mechanics that require actions in the physical world, and it is all based on location – where you are, how far you’ve walked, and all in real time. Its success in mobilising 18-29 year olds in the physical world is the overt proof of the effect mobile media can have on OOH consumer behaviour i.e. where they are spending time, when and what they are doing there. Change equals opportunity, so let’s look at a few examples of how savvy businesses and brands have and will leverage the opportunity Pokémon Go creates in the real world.You need to understand a little bit about how the game works for what follows to really make sense, so do yourself a favour and take a minute to watch this video:
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Fish where the fish (Magikarp) are
The event on the Sea Point promenade was a user community gathering where the attendees activated a number of lure packs to attract Pokémon to a specific location. What casual observers didn’t know is that even though the event wasn’t branded, it had been tactically supported by a few brands who were switched on enough to take advantage of the experiential opportunity – The Radisson drew participants to their location with the promise of coffee and snacks for trainers (players) based on their achieved level in the game, and incentivised them to share their experience at the hotel on social media by running a competition for a free night’s accommodation. Richarge, a mobile powerbank brand, was there to rent out their products to trainers whose batteries were running out.
What opportunities do Pokémon Go and changing OOH behaviour create for business?
The tactical opportunity does not end with directly integrated event support. Bigger brands might take a leaf out of the book of a savvy food truck operator who heard about the Pokémon event planned for the Promenade, being the agile business that it fundamentally has to be, made themselves available at the right place and time. They sold out that day.
Large user gathering at short term events are not the only change in behaviour that the game is creating, and is certainly not the only opportunity for brands to engage. Standard gameplay is creating changes in this audience’s location histories over the longer term and ultimately in greater numbers, and we are starting to discover data that can help us understand the where and when of it.
Being the connected, tech savvy consumers that they are, our local trainers have started recording and contributing information on where they have been catching Pokémon. They’ve even made an app called PokeTrack to make the job easier to complete in real time. All this data is then presented as a map, to help other trainers identify and target specific locations. This is what it looks like:
What opportunities do Pokémon Go and changing OOH behaviour create for business?
What you see here is a heat map showing where players have recently captured Pokémon in Cape Town. What we as OOH specialists see is a heat map of millennial hangouts that we can use to plan the distribution of OOH media campaign placements and target activations relevant to the millennial audience. In other words, we can use this new mobile data to identify locations that millennials are more likely to be found “out-and-about” more often and use it to make our clients campaigns more relevant to the millennial audience.
Bring consumers to your door
The really exciting opportunity that “Pokemon Go is arguably a more natural and interactive way to herd customers toward certain locations.”
Activity in the Pokémon Go world is centred around predetermined points of interest that live in the virtual world (Pokestops and Gyms). They are based on locations in the real world and players return to these locations regularly to drop lure packs and capture Pokémon or to take ‘ownership’ of the specific location.
Businesses and entrepreneurs have already started leveraging the opportunity that this presents for increasing footfall (and therefore business) by supporting the experience of consumers in their physical space.
Smaller businesses who have found themselves luckily assigned with Pokestops and Gyms have started paying for and activating lures in the game to make Pokémon available for visitors to their stores and attract more visitors. The New York Post reported that New York pizzeria L’inizio Pizza Bar enjoyed a 75% jump in sales after its manager spent $10 on the Lure Module.
Stores that are aligned with Gym locations have put up simple signage to signal which team currently occupies the virtual ownership of the location.

What opportunities do Pokémon Go and changing OOH behaviour create for business?
McDonalds in Japan have struck a deal with Niantic to convert 3000 of its stores into Pokémon Go “Gyms”. The brand no doubt expects to benefit from the increased footfall of players returning to stores to battle (hopefully in the virtual world only) for ownership of the “Gyms” for their respective virtual teams. There is some debate as to whether the investment from the brand will yield increased footfall over the long term, but my opinion is that this will depend on the support that each store provides to the gaming experience. I would say that we can expect to see digital screens in-store communicating information about what’s happening locally in the Pokémon Go world in real time.
There doesn’t seem to be any word yet on whether similar deals will be available for brands in other countries, but watch this space…
What does the future look like?
Regardless of whether Pokémon Go is a fad, augmented reality (AR) mobile gaming has finally hit the mainstream and is here to stay over the long run. From an OOH point of view there are two key opportunities that we will be looking to capitalise on – data and OOH/mobile crossover.
Data: The more consumers interact with these location platforms, the more we get to know about their aggregated location affinities over time. What this increased insight lets us do is plan OOH campaigns that are more relevant to specific audience groups, and get more creative with how we use OOH media to add value to consumers lives (think exciting, relevant, contextually aware ads from clients, rather than the boring brand-and-brag clutter of today). Which brings us onto our second key opportunity;
OOH/mobile crossover: Consumers today operate between and across their digital and physical worlds seamlessly and continuously. They use their experiences in either ‘world’ to enrich their experiences across both – they share real life moments via online platforms like Facebook and use online platforms like Uber to engage with or control the real world around them. OOH advertisers and agencies should be looking to augment the experiences of consumers in both the physical and virtual worlds, by getting them to speak to each other in real time in the right location. As out of home inventory evolves from static to digital, expect to see more direct integration of the messaging on these physical structures with what is happening in the digital world.
BRUCE BURGESS, Development Director at Posterscope South Africa

Catch Pokémon in the Real World…

Nintendo is working with a team of former Google developers on a new location-based Pokémon game for smartphones.
The game will involve going to real world locations while playing on your phone in order to catch Pokémon monsters.
Pokémon Go will be released in 2016 for iOS and Android, developed in partnership with The Pokémon Company and Niantic, which as a Google subsidiary made the location-based game Ingress.
The game will include in-app purchases, which given Pokémon’s status as a popular children’s game – although it has many adult fans too – could prove controversial.
Nintendo is hoping that the involvement of the Pokémon series’ game director Junichi Masuda will assuage any concern among fans. There is already a freemium Pokémon game available for mobile devices:
The new game marks Nintendo’s second mobile games partnership, following a deal struck with fellow Japanese company DeNA in May to make a series of games based on its characters and brands.
Nintendo had previously resisted calls to make some of its games – whether old or new titles – available on smartphones and tablets, rather than purely on its own consoles and handheld gaming devices.
There’ll be a device for Pokémon Go, though. Nintendo is making a gadget called the Pokémon Go Plus that will connect to players’ smartphones using Bluetooth, vibrating and flashing when a Pokémon is (virtually) nearby, so they can press a button to attempt to catch it.
The partnership is a big deal for Niantic, which spun out of Google in August as an independent company. Science-fiction game Ingress has been downloaded by 12 million people on Android and iOS so far.
“Our partnership with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo is an exciting step forward in real-world gaming and using technology to help players discover the world and people around them,” said the company’s chief executive John Hanke.
Video below:
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Via: The Guardian