Report: Pokémon Go to Allow Retailers to Sponsor Places on its Map
Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, the smash-hit location-based mobile game, is reportedly planning to allow retailers and other companies to sponsor places on its virtual map. John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, told the Financial Times that “sponsored locations” would provide a new revenue stream where companies “pay us to be locations within the virtual game board — the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic.”
Total Retail's Take: Who knew that Pokémon Go, the mobile game that tasks people with exploring real-life locations to find and catch imaginary monsters, would be the saving grace for brick-and-mortar retailers and malls this summer. As we reported earlier, the app is driving users to stores where many Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops — locations for players to train their Pokémon or stock up on free game accessories like Pokéballs — are located. While up until now the little monsters appeared organically, it appears Niantic is changing its approach and allowing retailers the ability to monetize the foot traffic that Pokémon Go is creating. It makes sense that Niantic would go this route. Brands including Duane Reade, Jamba Juice and Zipcar have reportedly paid to create sponsored portals for Ingress, Niantic's other AR game that involves a similar network of virtual “portals” mapped to on-street locations, in the hope of driving customers to their stores.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.